By Olivia Trussell (Girl Power Guide, Adelaide)
Did you know your happiness levels and self-care rituals have a ripple effect on your children?
Happiness has more meaning than a big smile and laughter – it runs much deeper. It is a collection of wellbeing choices that bring meaning to your life, and these choices differ from person to person. Furthermore, various parenting chapters will dictate the reality of how much time you can spend on your wellbeing too. For example, when my son was a newborn, I barely had time to brush my teeth let alone create a ritual of self-love including healthy food, exercise, meditation and hobbies. We were living in Sydney, away from our hometown of Adelaide, and had no community around to assist. My self-care ritual was non-existent for a long period and I soon paid for that, with feelings of sadness and ill health. My complete and utter focus was on our newborn and soon to be toddler, and it felt very natural to be in this headspace. Eventually, I caught onto the fact, if I do not start taking care of myself even in the smallest of ways, I will be of no help to our son. He is now of school age, and it is much easier to carve out time for myself and add things to my day that increase my wellbeing. What I have noticed – when I am happier and more fulfilled, there is a ripple effect on those around me. Happiness and positivity is contagious!
1. Discover your Happy
What makes you feel genuinely happy? The answer to this is different for each of us, and very quickly parents will often relate this to their children. For example, it is my child/children that make me happy. However, for the wellbeing of parents, it is important to identify what made them happy pre-children and of course this may be different post-children, as we all grow, develop and change our ideals of what brings us happiness, as life circumstances change.
2. Choose your Physical Exercise
There are mounds of research suggesting exercise is an excellent and natural anti-depressant. Even in your busiest of times, adding just 20 minutes of exercise to your day will have a positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing (a walk, run, bushwalk or yoga at home). Even if we have an injury, it is vital to move another part of the body, a part that still functions well. When I tore the meniscus in my knee, I bought some hand weights and exercised my upper body for about 6 weeks whilst my knee healed.
3. In the Zone
There is much research about being in the flow, that state where hours can pass and you do not notice, as you are so focused on what you are doing. This state has a similar effect on our brains as meditation. It took me a long time to discover what this means to me, and I am now 45 years of age. My awareness of what put me in this state only happened recently when I returned to writing and singing. They are my two flow activities. When do you find your flow? What gets you in the zone? It's never too late to do something you love.
4. Seek Time Alone
When we spend time in solitude, we allow ourselves the peace and space to quieten our minds. A quote I love is, “quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” When we are amidst constant chatter, or on the phone texting, on social media and interacting with others, it is hard to connect inwards. If time alone is impossible, I recommend downloading a relaxation App such as Calm. Some of the meditations are only 2, 3 and 5 minutes and will allow the time to switch off from the outside world, even if brief, there will be benefits.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Many of us have extremely high expectations of ourselves that are difficult to sustain. When our children see that in us, they too may model this behaviour. In some instances, this is great, as it teaches a high achieving approach to life. On the other hand, it is also good to practise and model a relaxed approach to ourselves, letting go of perfectionism and allowing ourselves the space to be human, to make mistakes and to let those mistakes go quickly. How would you speak to your best friend? Being aware of self-talk and how we treat ourselves is paramount to feeling well!
I hope my blog has encouraged you to think about what wellbeing means to you as a parent. Please comment below - let us know some of the ways you have discovered to create space for yourself as a parent and treat yourself well.
Love Olivia Trussell, Girl Power Coach xx