Self-care for parents & students

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Parenting

By Tora Bueno, Parent in Carlsbad Unified School District

It’s challenging in life to push aside frustrations from unmet expectations or unresolved problems and be a consistent, present parent for our children.

In the book, The Body Keeps Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, the author describes how the body has a memory for stress. Allowing for recovery from traumatic situations, or even the day-to-day happenings outside our control, is essential to maintaining a healthy balanced life.

We may have been suggested to try self-care, but have no idea where to start. Here are some suggestions for that may help you start a small, daily practice that can help you or your student.

Spontaneity helps.

Not all activities need to be organized. Allow time for play and incorporate activities like dancing to loud music, drawing, baking, throwing a ball. Taking part in any low-stakes fun with your loved ones is a form of self-care.

Take care of the basics.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule with eight to nine hours of sleep, stay hydrated, strive for a healthy diet, incorporate movement into your day (walking is excellent), get outside, cut down on screen time, value and strengthen social connections, and lastly, find a reason to laugh. 

Practice gratitude.

Share “three good things” either at mealtimes, in the car, or when your family is all together. Each person lists three good things that happened that day and also “happy and crappy” (or whatever words your family is comfortable using) in which you acknowledge both good and bad that happened, making space for both and making sense out of it all.

The Roman philosopher Cicero called gratitude “the mother of all virtues.” It helps to remember the good in our lives and, maybe even more powerfully, the good that we do. Andrew Huberman, a neurologist and ophthalmologist at Stamford University, cited gratitude studies in scientific literature which showed that when the good we do is mirrored back to us by third parties our wellbeing is significantly enhanced. Try switching up the gratitude practice by acknowledging good done by others and see how it feels.

Find your why.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’,” wrote psychologist Viktor Frankl in, Man’s Search For Meaning. Frankl’s Logotherapy theory suggests that meaning is the motivating force that drives humans to pursue connection, education, wealth, and more. But in school, education is often a ‘one-size-fits-all’ and students may not always leave with an understanding of their ‘why’. Scott Schimmel’s YouSchool aims to help fill in the motivation gap and guide people of all ages with a special focus on teens and recent graduates to build a meaningful life.

Try a break from the news and social media.

Reliving the horrors of war in Ukraine or a minute-by-minute account of a mass shooting is a sort of trauma by proxy. It takes us out of our current moment, our bodies, and our reality. Try a total phone detox or check the news once, briefly, and then turn it off for the day. After experimenting, find a routine that works for you and stick with it. There is nothing like a detox to show how strongly something is affecting our well-being.