THE BLOG

Five Tips to Improve Your Mental Wellbeing as a Parent

21/01/2015 11:51 | Updated 22 March 2015

So, we've had Blue Monday. Did you notice?

Chances are that your life as a parent is too busy to worry about feeling blue, or you're simply so caught up in everyone else's wellbeing that you don't bother about your own. Or maybe you're low but haven't done anything about it because this is the new normal for you.

The fact is, if we don't look after our own mental health, we won't have the mental resilience to cope with our families when the wheels come off the wagon. Which, inevitably, they will do - once you are part of a family you can't get away from the odd crisis. It's how you are able to cope with it, as a team, that can make all the difference.

We at PIP love to make things simple, so here's our handy list to hack your way to spiritual bliss:

1. Actively promote your wellbeing. There is a convincing body of evidence that states with active management of your emotional and physical health in tandem, you can help prevent mental health problems occurring or becoming chronic. There are several DIY options to help with mindfulness, physical activity and basic CBT techniques. John Harper, creator of Rize, a mindfulness app, states "Concepts provided in Rize can be a fantastic supplement for mental well-being, but human care will always remain top of the priority list for the healthy development of the human brain." And that includes parents who hold that burden of care for others.
2. Use your diary. This isn't about being organised or remembering appointments - it's about being in control of your time. If you block out time - 10 minutes here, 1 hour there - to purely concentrate on your wellbeing, you will see the positive effects. Looking after yourself can't be done piecemeal and use the routine in your life to build the positive experiences that will help you to keep going during the rough times.
3. Don't multi task. Recent research has shown that trying to multi task, especially on electronic devices, has a detrimental effect on our ability to complete that task, and makes us feel stressed. The fallacy that parents are great multi taskers can be put to rest: it's best for your mental health to complete one thing at a time.
4. Find and use your favourite stress buster. This could be putting some music on really loud and dancing around the kitchen, going for a walk or another activity that you really love. Once you have found that thing, promise yourself to do it once a week, even if it's just for 10 minutes. Action For Happiness has a great list of positive steps that you can take in your life to beat the blues.
5. Be social, but not on line. It's a strange thing, this social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn can be helpful to connect and reach people for work, social life, or just keeping up with the outside world when you're at home. But if you're starting to feel blue, it's time to turn the screen off and connect with people in real life. By watching the on line highlights of other people's lives you can begin to convince yourself that the grass really is greener and the rest of the world is having way more fun than you. Not true; we all go through the same amount of disappointment, frustration, boredom and questioning ourselves. Impose some screen free or social media free time on yourself as you work through a difficult patch. Phone a friend or just hang out with the dog.