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Wellbeing for Parents and Caregivers

By June 28, 2024July 1st, 2024No Comments

For many of us, being a parent or caregiver can mean that we often find ourselves juggling family, relationships, home and work life – feeling as though we are being pulled in many directions all at once.

With the demands of daily life, it can be easy to inadvertently forget to care for ourselves and look after our own wellbeing. Forgetting to mind ourselves can lead to feelings of stress, issues related to sleep, a range of negative emotions, feeling overwhelmed and can also place pressures on our relationships.

So, where do we start?

Perhaps we can focus on what caring for your own wellbeing actually looks like. It is difficult to know what this type of self-care means – or maybe more so, what it means for us personally.

We hope that scheduling regular and consistent ‘self-care‘ time or activities for ourselves will help us to better appreciate our time as well as help us gather strength from within ourselves if or when difficult times arise.

Starting or maybe restarting a self-care routine can feel daunting. By practicing self-care, we give ourselves an opportunity to explore what wellbeing means to us. And deciding on what type of self-care time or activities work best for you is a bit like shopping. You might try on a few outfits before finding one that suits you, suits your needs, as well as what self-care time/activities are most realistic and achievable for you.

With this in mind – here are some approaches, or perhaps beginnings, to managing our wellbeing and increasing our self-care

Naming Needs

This can often be the hardest part of self-care, but it is a good place to start. Beginning this process by acknowledging our wellbeing in an open, explorative and compassionate way can then help us find the strength to give ourselves permission to care for ourselves. This might be where we notice feelings of guilt, or feelings of selfishness; however, doing what we need to do to be the person we wish to be benefits us as well as those around us. Taking a moment for this type of explorative “self-talk” will help us name our needs or areas where we might need extra support for our wellbeing as caregivers.

Compassion Focused

Much research supports a compassion-focused approach in therapy, but it can also strengthen the wellbeing of caregivers. This approach promotes the importance of compassion in our lives – the warmth and tenderness we give ourselves and others, as well as the compassion we receive from others. This approach uses different techniques to build and/or maintain compassion. A useful activity to add to our self-care and wellbeing ‘toolbox’ of sorts is self-compassion meditation. Websites such as Dr Kristina Neff’s offer guided compassion-focused meditations with the overall aim to promote warmth, caring and understanding towards ourselves. This link below will take you to a webpage with guided self-compassion meditations.


Making lists: One aspect of finding realistic and achievable time or activities is ensuring that we are looking after our overall wellbeing. This includes looking after our responsibilities and helping ourselves to organising our to-do lists. Finding ways to help us stay organised allows us to also identify things we would like to do for ourselves, including spending quality time with our families.

Prioritise sleep: Sleep is an important biological tool that allows our body and brain to ‘housekeep’ while you rest – troubles sleeping, both duration and quality, can impact our mental and physical health. Keeping good “sleep hygiene” can support better sleep.

Energy levels: exercise and diet.

The gut microbiome has an influence on brain function and likely mood and behaviour as well. Bodily functions, like neurotransmitters, involved in both mood and appetite likely play a role in finding balance between our digestive systems and our brains. Understanding the relationship between diet, stress, mood and behaviour can benefit how we cope with emotions, and how we care for ourselves. The food we eat can also help us add more physical activity to our lives. Exercise has been shown to improve anxiety, stress, depression, as well as decreases inflammation – and overall regular exercise improves our immunity, and our psychological, physiological abilities. Some helpful links:

Staying Connected & Feeling Supported

Spending time with friends and loved ones; Connecting with self, and passions – finding local groups: art, music, library, exercise; Stepping away from digital life. Saying “no” to unrealistic requests (from others and self). And asking for help.

These are each a way that can help us feel, or find, a connection to loved ones and a connection to ourselves. Caring for our well-being often involves multiple strategies. Finding connection, feeling compassion, and practising mindfulness (focusing on the present), each supports our well-being. Our aim is to feel a deepening in our sense of meaning – or feel that we understand our unique experiences – and deepen our sense of significance and purpose in life.

Key Takeaways:  

Engaging in self-care in support of our well-being involves introducing strategies to our lives that are both realistic and achievable. For example, if you wish to find time for a guided meditation in your day, rather than placing pressure on your schedule for a 10-minute meditation, perhaps finding a free 5 minutes is more realistic and achievable.

Self-care doesn’t have to involve going out or spending money necessarily. What we encourage is finding what could work best for us. So, this means that self-care could include things like simply going into another room to enjoy a treat we’ve been saving, or perhaps listening to calming music or practicing meditation for any amount of spare time available to us.

And remember to focus on:

  • Support systems (friends, family, community, services).
  • Relationship with self.
  • Compassion and mindfulness (focusing on the ‘now’).

Research suggests that focusing our well-being efforts on managing negative emotions and sleep troubles, managing our relationships, and finding a greater sense of meaning can help us move through life with more happiness, joy and feelings of fulfilment.

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