Minding our mental health involves taking care of ourselves to avoid becoming overwhelmed by everyday stresses or sudden traumas.
Managing our responses to these events can help us to cope in our everyday lives.
The demands of day-to-day living can lead to mental stress, which can in turn lead to mental health difficulties and result in parents and carers feeling as though they are unable to cope.
Minding your mind
Poor mental health can result in consequences ranging from sleep deprivation, to anxiety, to long-term diagnosed mental health conditions.
If you are concerned about your mental health, contact your GP for an individual consultation.
For many parents the idea of self-care and taking some well-deserved ‘you’ time can seem like an alien concept.
Often, parents worry that if they take some time out for themselves that they are being selfish.
However, as a parent it is important that you continue to explore and engage with your passions and interests. This can help you to ensure your identity as an individual remains intact.
Taking time out for yourself by choosing to go for a walk, take a bath, catch up with a friend or pursue your interests, sends a very positive message to your child/ren about the importance of taking care of yourself.
Role modelling positive self-care also demonstrates to your child a powerful strategy for managing stress in our lives.
How we react to stress will influence how our children react to stress.
Parental Mental Health
Every parent, as with every individual, can feel pressure from time to time throughout their life.
Having responsibility for a child or children can present extra challenges to a person’s mental health. These challenges may include worry, fear, a lack of knowledge, a feeling of being overwhelmed, loneliness and more.
Social media and how we interact with it can have a huge influence on how we view ourselves.
While many parents find parenting blogs and social media influencers who share their experience of parenting beneficial, some parents may find themselves negatively comparing themselves and their parenting abilities.
Remember that challenges associated with life and parenting can be under-represented by social media and influencers who wish to present content which is purely positive.
Challenges relating to children’s developmental stages
Each stage of parenting will bring its own set of demands.
When children are infants, parents may experience sleepless nights due to teething.
When children grow into teenagers and gain a degree of independence, parents may experience sleepless nights until their children return from discos and late-night socialising.
Some of the challenges which parents can experience at various stages in their childrens’ development include:
- Infants – sleep deprivation, teething, colic, feeding
- Toddler – tantrums, being defiant
- The school years – coping with the pressures of school, peers and developing relationships, setting boundaries
- Tweens / teenagers – the stress of school and social challenges can intensify.
Tips for maintaining good mental health
Get enough sleep
When we are not fully rested, it is more difficult for us to manage our emotions. Our response to daily challenges and things that would not normally annoy or irritate us could lead to us finding it more difficult to cope.
At times of stress, some of us lose our appetite while others to reach for the sugary snacks. This is because stress affects our hormones and this in turn influences what we choose to eat. Try to make healthy choices and eat regularly.
You may be a parent but you are still you. Your role as a parent is just one aspect of your life.
Rest and relaxation is not only good for the body but also good for the soul. For some people this might mean taking some time out to read a book or to meditate.
Exercise releases endorphins, which makes us feel better. People who exercise regularly can experience benefits including a positive boost in mood.
Join a social club
Feeling connected with other people can help us to feel a sense of solidarity. Joining a club may not be for everyone but may you could explore other ways to help you feel socially connected, such as arranging to meet a friend for coffee.
Talk to people who care
There is truth in the old proverb that a ‘problem shared is a problem halved’.
Having a friend or family member who will listen to you and support you can help you to realise that you are not alone.
If you wish to learn more about how to boost your mental health or gain further insight into mental health, check out the links below: