Self Care - How to Parent Yourself
For many of us this is something we only learn, once we become parents ourselves. Our children become our mirrors, showing us where and what we need to heal, and the areas where we need to learn how to parent ourselves. If you happen to come from a difficult childhood where perhaps you didn’t receive the type of guidance, modeling or mirroring that you really needed at the time, then this blog post will give you a general overview of where to start.
In order to learn how to parent yourself, you need to treat your inner child with the love and care they truly deserve, by taking a holistic approach to your whole being. For some these might seem really obvious, but that is because you have more than likely been shown these things naturally as your grew up, for others these are tools we often have to learn later in life, just like I did.
Start by looking at your Sleep. Do you get a solid 8 hours of sleep per night? You need this in order for your body and your mind to function to it’s full potential. * A healthy night’s sleep lasts about eight hours, and is divided between REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep, in which the brain is as active as it is when its owner is awake, and NREM (non-REM) sleep, a deeper sleep state that predominates in the first half of the night. Both of these states (and there are further sub-states within NREM sleep) serve a multitude of purposes. NREM sleep, for example, is crucial to memory retention, and to acquiring and refining our motor skills. REM sleep plays a role in our abilities to overcome negative feelings, read other people’s emotions and solve problems. *(more here)
We are living in a society where people feel proud and almost boastful about surviving off little sleep while accomplishing more, but at what cost to their health?!. There is an amazing podcast on ‘Why We Sleep’ which dives deep into this, I highly recommend you take a listen or you can read the book - Why We Sleep - Dr Matthew Walker. If you do happen to suffer with insomnia or any type of sleep issues, start looking into the different types of sleep meditations to help your mind switch off. Insight Timer is an amazing free app which was a whole section dedicated to SLEEP. I also created a specific guided meditation for healing any childhood wounds, so if you would like to begin your Inner Child work you are welcome to Listen for Free Here.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day — Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.” - Matthew Walker
When I was in my first year of college I didn’t know how to cook anything, not even Pasta. The world of cooking was all knew to me. So I had to start with basics. I went to my local library and picked up some simple recipe books and began by cooking more dishes with vegetables to keep me energized throughout my days in college. Slowly I began to cut out heavily processed foods and started introducing fruits instead of sugary snacks, more green fresh veggies instead of tinned or packaged vegetables and eating less bread and more rices and pulses.
Get curious about the food you put in your body as this is the fuel you are feeding your body. Good clean fuel = long lasting energy. Rather than going full throttle into cutting out all ‘BAD’ food or creating ‘cheat days’ where you overindulge, start small. Start by:
Introducing one vegetarian dish a week into your diet
Start by picking up less packaged processed food in your weekly shop (circle the outside aisles of the grocery store, this is where all the fresh healthy produce will be)
Cook big batches of food you can freeze or have for lunch
Learn to season your food so that it tastes nice. Eating steamed broccoli or carrot sticks with hummus isn’t exactly going to rock your world and in time will send you right back to your sugary fix so learn about seasoning and spices. Nutritional yeast is such an amazing topping, wonderfully ‘cheesy’ and full of all the vitamin B’s. Bragg Liquid Soy Seasoning goes on just about any veg or tofu and tastes amazing, without all the bad stuff in Soy sauce.
Transition from milk chocolate to raw dark chocolate - it curbs the cravings after the smallest amount and is actually good for you.
Can you cut back on dairy, even a little. Switch out your cows milk for a nut mylk.
Buy nuts and berries to use as quick healthy snacks for between meals
Cut out your late night snacking to give your digestive system a break. I’ve written a blog post on this as part of my Summer Reboot.
My best advice is introduce small new habits around food and over time these will naturally expand. Allow your palette time to adjust. Also know your WHY - if you know why you are eating the food and what it offers your body in terms of nutrition/vitamins, that in itself will be a driver for you to continue.
Learn how to look after your health, by not ignoring it and choose to spend your money on your health. By the time I was a teenager I had more fillings in my teeth than I care to admit. Dental health was not a top priority in my childhood household and as a result this is something I now have to take care of as an adult. The good news is, that once addressed everything can be fixed in some way, or at least made better.
So go to the doctor with ‘any’ ailments you have that have been ignoring.
Schedule a dental check up and make a plan on all the dental work you may need, and make a plan that you can afford to do over time.
If you suffer with back pain, hip pain, knee pain or any sort of pain - investigate alternative therapies (Acupuncture, Thai Massage, Reiki, Bio-Energy healing, Amatsu, Osteopath, ) that can help you and then go. It might be intimidating at the start but you will walk away from it feeling so much better having empowered yourself and ‘parented’ yourself.
Get your Vitamin levels checked out by doing some blood tests, this way you can see where you may be running low and supplement to balance them back. This can often help with fatigue or weight gain. Pro-biotics are a great place to start.
Learn how to manage your money so that you feel confident and secure in your current situation. Being able to rely on yourself in the case of an Emergency will eliminate any sense of fear or dread about the future. Becoming financially healthy will bring you huge peace of mind and will also break any previous family patterns around money issues, programs which may be running in your sub-conscious mind.
Knowledge is power but wisdom is knowledge in action.
Check out my Step by Step guide on Gaining your Independent Financial Freedom and Health Here.
Move your body in some way every single day. If that is a 15 minute walk each evening after you finish your dinner, or choosing to walk to the shops instead of taking the car. Find the time in your day without having to schedule it in, or make it to a gym.
Plan a cardio workout for your heart and body health at least twice a week. Whatever that looks like for you. Something that you can enjoy, maybe it’s a spin class, or a zumba class or a tennis game with your friend in your local neighborhood courts. Find what works and then pick two days a week to move your body and get your heartbeat up.
Variety is the spice of life. Learn to find exercises that compliment each other. If you love running for example, then stretching is going to be really important for you, so taking up Yoga will really benefit you for the physical stretching and for the breath work, in learning to slow down - body and mind.
So at this stage, you have learned the foundations of self care: Sleep Well. Eat Well. Look after your health. Manage your money. Exercise daily. Now let’s touch on mental health. This is a huge part of parenting yourself and I will create an entire series on this, but for the purpose of this post, here is a brief overview of where to start.
To assess your own mental health you can ask yourself the following questions:
How do I speak to myself internally in my own mind?
Is it in a positive or negative way and what exactly are I telling myself throughout my day?
How do I react when other people upset me?
How often do I get angry and how do I show and cope with my anger?
What are the patterns in my relationship history, both romantic and platonic?
If you have any form of trauma from your childhood or even adult life, at some stage you are going to have to address it. By bringing it up to the surface, you are releasing its power over you and by acknowledging it and working through it, as painful as it can be, it will give you the freedom that you deserve to live a more fulfilling peaceful life. Remember Trauma doesn’t have to be some huge event that happened, it can be anything that upset you so deeply that you repressed that emotion as it felt like it was too much to handle at that time.
You get to decide how you want to do this. There are so many forms of help and it’s really trial and error. If your car broke down you wouldn’t try and fix it yourself, you would take it to the garage and get a mechanic to look at it. So why then when you have something you need help with, would you not go and seek the trained professional who will provide you with the tools to make you better? There is strength in seeking help and following through with this. For me I found talk therapy helped me deal with so much and release some serious grief I was holding, by finding a person I didn’t know (a Therapist) I could speak with openly. I found C.B.T. really beneficial for my anxiety issues. I found Yoga, the physical practice phenomenal for finding strength, trust and confidence in my body at first, which then translated by gaining confidence inside of myself. My absolute secret weapon for banishing any deep self-limiting belief is Meditation, in particular Yoga Nidra.
We live in a world that is always on. It’s busy. It’s loud. It’s demanding. It’s exhausting. Meditation is a safe space, that you can switch off and be with yourself, reconnect to the real you, your true essence, your Soul Self. It can be really difficult for some people who are going through a lot and have a very active mind, to sit still and ‘Meditate’, that is why I suggest starting with Yoga Nidra. It’s a guided meditation where you lay on your back, and the objective is for you to fully surrender, while being guided through systematic layers of the body and brain to help you let go, release old programming and patterns and trauma from the body and mind. It is wildly powerful.
Richard Miller, a Yoga Nidra Master has proven that Yoga Nidra Meditation can heal Trauma in the body. Miller worked with Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the United States Department of Defense studying the efficacy of iRest Yoga Nidra. The iRest protocol was used with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More here
Remember that life is meant to be fun and that you are human. We are all human and we are flawed. Care less about other peoples opinions of you and start to get to know what makes you ‘truly’ happy. What do you enjoy doing that makes you smile and can you do that at least once a week? If you suffer with feeling like a fraud or even have ‘Imposter Syndrome” like I did, you can read my blog post on this here.
How are you bringing in more joy to your life? Are you spending time building a connection with people you enjoy spending time with in your life, People who love and support, people you can laugh with.
A good sign of friendship is somebody who can not only be there for you when the going gets tough but who can be waving the flag of pride for you in celebration when things are going good. Celebrating all the good in your life.
As a Mom I know that it’s so easy to place my own needs to the side, prioritizing my families needs first, but the truth is that I am a better mom when I look after my self first.
Self care is not Selfish - It’s Selfless.
It makes me a better person as when I feel full, I have more to give to others too. So plan out time in your life, in your week , in your day where you are just having fun. Not trying to accomplish anything, prove anything or succeed. The objective is to smile and feel so fully present. Having fun releases stress from your body and increases the release of Dopamine (your happy hormones) from you brain, making you feel better. Just like exercising releases the happy Endorphin hormones.
Define what success means for you, maybe Success once meant getting that specific job, reaching that salary, owning that car, getting married, buying a house etc and maybe these things brought you joy BUT can you redefine success so that you can widen your experience and happiness during this lifetime. Outside of wealth and materials or what we are marketed too as meaning ‘Successful’.
What if success meant you laughed until your belly hurt while hanging out with friends during the weekend?
What if success meant you had an exceptional relationship with your partner where you felt connected , supported and loved in an intimate loving growing relationship?
What if success meant you got to experience new adventures with your family each week by spending time outdoors away from it all?
I hope that you found something in the above as a starting point in your own journey to loving yourself by becoming your own parent and creating a solid foundation for your own growth and success in this lifetime.
Sending you love and support.