Hey there, parents, caregivers, family members, welcome back! We often discuss the topic of teens struggling with things like anxiety, depression, and stress. We typically focus on the teens’ needs which is a super big area of concern. This time, I’m going to switch up my focus. This blog is going to take that topic and focus on YOU- the parent and/or caregiver of a teen struggling with anxiety. If you’re reading this, you’re probably well-acquainted with the whirlwind that is raising a teenager. You might find you have focused so much on your anxious teen, that you haven’t considered how to support yourself. This might sound counter intuitive. Why focus on ourselves, when our kids are suffering? Read on and I will share 5 reasons why to take care of yourself, and 5 easy ways to try out ASAP.
Why Practice self-care? Imagine you’re on an airplane, and the flight attendant gives that spiel about the oxygen masks dropping down in case of an emergency. What’s the first thing they say? “Put on your own mask before helping others.” Why? Because if you’re gasping for air and turning blue, you’re not going to be much help to anyone, especially your anxious teenager.
Now, I’m not saying parenting is as life-threatening as a plane crash (though the mess in the living room might make you think otherwise). But the idea holds true: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Here are a few reasons why parental self-care is essential:
- Role Model Extraordinaire: Remember, your kids are like sponges, soaking up everything you do. When they see you prioritizing self-care, they learn that it’s not only acceptable but crucial. You’re teaching them a lifelong lesson in maintaining a healthy balance.
- Stress Snack vs. Self-Care Snack: In times of stress, we often turn to snacks for comfort (cue the tub of ice cream). While that’s perfectly fine occasionally, too much stress-snacking can lead to unwanted consequences. Self-care, on the other hand, gives you healthier ways to cope and recharge. Whether it’s a jog in the park, a bubble bath, or belting out your favorite tunes, these activities nourish your soul without the guilt.
- The Superhero Syndrome: You’re amazing, no doubt about it. But you’re not superhuman. Trying to be everything for everyone without taking care of yourself can lead to burnout faster than a matchstick in a hurricane. Self-care is your shield against the villain known as “Parental Burnout.” When you’re well-rested and rejuvenated, you can face the challenges of raising a teenager with more resilience and grace.
- A Stress-Free HQ: Think of yourself as the CEO of your household. CEOs need a clear head to make wise decisions. Taking time for self-care clears away the mental clutter, allowing you to approach parenting challenges with a fresh perspective.
- The Law of Attraction: Ever notice how when you’re in a good mood, things seem to go smoother? It’s like the universe responds to your positivity. Well, self-care fuels that positivity engine. When you’re happy and centered, your family is more likely to feed off that energy, creating a harmonious home environment.
Practicing self-care isn’t just about lounging in pajamas all day (although that does sound tempting). It’s about recognizing that you matter too, and taking care of yourself is like a gift you give to your family. Taking care of yourself is crucial, especially when you’re navigating the ups and downs of parenting an anxious teenager. Here are five self-care activities tailored to parents in the trenches:
- Solo Nature Escapes: Nature has an incredible way of soothing frazzled nerves. Take a hike in the nearby woods, have a leisurely stroll by the beach, or simply find a quiet park bench to sit on and breathe in the fresh air. These moments of solitude amidst nature can be like a reset button for your mind.
- Creative Outlet Sessions: Remember those hobbies you used to love before parenting took center stage? It’s time to dust them off! Engage in a creative activity that brings you joy, whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, crafting, or even experimenting in the kitchen. It’s not about perfection; it’s about the process and the joy it brings.
- Tech-Free Time Travel: Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” close the laptop, and embrace some quality tech-free time. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, immerse yourself in a jigsaw puzzle, or even have an uninterrupted chat with a friend over a cup of tea. Disconnecting from the digital world allows you to connect more deeply with yourself.
- Mindful Moments: Mindfulness isn’t just for gurus on mountaintops; it’s for parents too. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditate, or simply take a moment to savor a cup of coffee without any distractions. These tiny moments of mindfulness can make a big difference in reducing stress.
- Unleash the Laughter: Watch a funny movie, binge-watch a comedy series, or gather with friends who make you laugh until your sides hurt. Laughter is indeed the best medicine, and it releases those feel-good endorphins that can instantly lift your spirits.
If you are struggling to cope as a parent and finding it hard to set healthy boundaries that allow you to prioritize self-care, consider turning to therapy for extra help. Therapy can give you the tools you need to survive parenting challenges that accompany teen anxiety, as well as assist you in finding ways to rediscover yourself and thrive in your role as a parent, and beyond. I’m here at Outside the Norm in Temecula, CA, ready to assist! Your family’s story is unique, and by supporting your anxious teen and practicing self-care, you’re writing a tale of resilience, love, and understanding that will be passed down through generations. Anxiety might be a formidable foe, however, just remember to take a moment to breathe, keep laughing, keep loving, and keep being the parent your anxious teenager needs. I am here to support you if you need it!