11 Self-Care Tips For Parents To Manage Stress During The Pandemic

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family with daughter at home

Self-care for parents should be a priority.

I know we're in the middle of a pandemic and it may not seem like there is an end in sight. For some, it means working harder, and for some, working less.

But regardless of where you fall, you don't want to lose yourself in this pandemic.

You're not a machine — you can't keep going without refueling.

RELATED: 4 Essential Ways Busy Parents Can Practice Self-Care

One of my favorite simple self-care techniques is to stop and take 10 deep breathes. By doing this, you're slowing down your central nervous system.

If you don't slow down, you will burn out.

The good news is that you can prevent this with a self-care plan.

Here are 11 self-care tips for parents to manage stress during the pandemic.

1. Get moving.

This means you need to schedule some time for exercise. You can go to your favorite cardio class at the gym, go for a swim, or simply go for a walk. The more the better.

Get your heart rate up. This is good for your physical and mental health.

Go to a yoga or Pilates class. If you can’t make it to the gym, then watch a video. It doesn’t have to be a long one.

Start with 10 minutes. You will notice a difference almost immediately.

You may feel like you don’t have the time, but you do. It will eventually become a habit. Exercising regularly will also help with sleep.

Since many of the gyms are closed right now due to the pandemic, there are many classes available to attend online or outdoors. Make good use of them.

2. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water.

Stay away from processed foods. It’s easy to pick up something on the go, but you aren’t getting the nutrients you need.

Make sure you're eating lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates.

You also want to make sure you have some healthy fats. This is how you feel full. It will also help reduce cravings for foods high in sugar.

Make sure you're hydrated. This is another way to prevent cravings. Carry your water bottle with you and keep it filled with water.

You also need to set aside time for meal prep. This means chopping up fresh vegetables and preparing lean protein early in the week. Then, it's easily available for meals.

3. Spend a little money on yourself.

You buy for the children, your partner, and the home. When was the last time you bought yourself something just because you wanted it?

That’s right, you didn’t necessarily need it — you just wanted it. Maybe that dress or necklace made you feel pretty. A day at the spa away from home can make you feel amazing.

The effects of spending a little money on yourself can go a long way. You don’t always need to be so frugal.

4. What is... is.

Learn to breathe and let go. Sometimes, you have to accept things how they are.

You need to stop pushing yourself. Stop trying to wade upstream at high tide.

If you don’t stop, you will exhaust yourself. This can lead to burnout.

You can’t go back and you can’t predict the future. This means you can’t control everything.

When you learn to let go, you will feel better about yourself. Your family will notice and appreciate this.

5. Sleeping isn’t an option — it’s a requirement.

All too often, you put sleep at the bottom of your priority list. Your body needs sleep to recharge.

Your brain can’t function when you don’t have enough rest.

Start getting into a routine of going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time.

RELATED: 6 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Some TLC When You're A Busy Mom

6. Self-care does include having regular check-ups.

This may sound small or simple, but it does make a big difference. Make sure you have a check-up every year with your doctor and dentist.

I’m surprised at how often I hear people aren’t doing this. Studies have shown you will live a healthier and longer life by visiting your doctor regularly.

Please don’t tell me you don’t have enough time. It doesn’t take that long, and you're worth it.

7. Surround yourself with positive people.

Start by reviewing the people you're closest to and take a look at your top five people.

Are they supportive? Are the positive and optimistic, or are they negative?

The people that surround you have a direct effect on your emotional health. They should not be creating more stress in your life. They should be positive and supportive.

If necessary, work at developing an adequate and appropriate support system.

8. Stay away from bad news.

When you turn on the news, it's usually bad. This will affect your mindset.

You will start questioning things and having a hard time trusting. You will think negatively about the world you live in and the world you're raising your kids in.

We are prone to focus on the negative, especially when it's in front of us every minute of the day.

Limit the news to half an hour a day. Then, start to look for the good news.

Be a "good news" junkie. Talk about it with your friends and family. Share it on social media.

After a while, it will become a habit and you will begin to feel better about yourself and the world you live in.

Find one good thing that has happened to you as a result of the pandemic.

9. Approach each day with a purpose.

Start by outlining a daily structure. Each step is important to reach your goal. No task is too small to feel good about. This is where your inner critic can get in the way.

Learn to be kind to yourself with your inner voice. Remember, small steps lead to big steps.

10. Avoid being self-critical.

Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to see that there are always choices. This will prevent you from feeling trapped and help you to feel optimistic about the future.

Use positive self-talk. This will help you feel better about yourself and your choices, and will also start to rewire your brain.

Positive self-talk is something you will need to practice daily. Remember, the brain is a muscle and it needs to be conditioned.

11. Practice mindfulness.

You can start with 10 minutes a day. Set up a time that will work for you, and practice mindfulness at the same time each day.

Mindfulness involves using deep breathing techniques, body scans, and mindful check-ins. This is good for your central nervous system. Practice whether you feel stressed out or not.

Take it one day at a time. You and your family will get through this.

This is the new normal. It's best to have healthy techniques to cope with it.

A self-care plan will help you with that.

RELATED: 15 Ultimate Self-Care Tips To Feed Your Body & Soul Today

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on Lessons for Love to learn more about her services and expertise.

This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.