Being a parent is so rewarding—but it can also be so HARD! Even in the best of times, parenting-related stress can affect your overall well-being. Parenting during a global pandemic has taken an even greater toll. So, this Valentine’s Day, take a beat to focus on your own mental health.
Pandemic parenting has worn us out. One recent study found that 71% of parents reported an increase in parenting-specific stress from before COVID-19. Another found that 54% of parents say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
Our role as parents is to guide and support our children through uncertainty—and to help them find healthy ways of managing their emotions. But being there fully for your children means taking care of yourself, too.
Be Your Own Valentine
Your kids will always be your favorite little valentines, but this Valentine’s Day, take some time to show yourself some love. Take a step back and appreciate the work you do each day to support your children and your community. Then, do something just for you to help refill your tank and improve your overall well-being.
Need inspiration? Here are five ideas to help you be your own Valentine.
It’s thought that people have been practicing meditation as far back as 5,000 BC. These days, it’s commonly practiced for relaxation and stress reduction. Meditation is simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t require any special equipment. Even meditating for a few minutes each day can give you a sense of calm and reduce the impact of negative emotions. This Valentine’s Day, strengthen your feelings of kindness and connection to others by trying this Loving Kindness Meditation.
- Go for a Walk.
There are so many great health benefits to taking a simple walk! Walking increases your blood flow and circulation to your brain and body, which helps boost your mood. Walking regularly can also help ease chronic mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. So, this Valentine’s Day, pop in your ear buds to listen to YOUR favorite tunes and head outside for a walk to improve your well-being.
- Do Something that Makes You Feel Special.
Do you have some fancy soaps that you haven’t used yet? How about those special crackers or expensive cheese you found at the market? Are your grandma’s fine dishes sitting in a box? Is your grandfather’s watch gathering dust on your dresser? It’s your special day, so do something that makes you feel special! Open the expensive bottle of wine. Pull out the fine dishes. Wear the watch. Use the fancy soaps. Find that special thing that makes you smile and feel important—because you are!
- Embrace Self Affirmations.
We spend so much time telling our children how special they are that sometimes, we forget how special we are as parents! Remind yourself by writing affirmations to yourself and sprinkling them throughout your house. Leave affirmations to yourself on your refrigerator, on sticky notes next to your computer, and on the bathroom mirror to help start your day with a positive mindset. Here are some aspirations you can use for inspiration!
- Spend Time with Your Partner or Friend.
Living during a pandemic is isolating—especially for parents sometimes. Humans are social creatures, and we need interaction. This year, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to check in with your loved ones. Reach out to an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Invite the neighbors over for a Valentine’s Day happy hour or desert party. Call a sibling or a cousin. Taking some time to reconnect with the adults in your life will improve your mood—and your overall well-being.
After you’ve given yourself some love, you’ll feel refreshed enough to spend time loving on your kids. You can try some mindfulness activities with them and also try these fun Valentine’s Day craft ideas you can do as a family.
Valerie Kirk is a freelance writer and mom of a teenager and a tween who lives in Gambrills, Md.