Educational Psychology

Looking after yourself as a parent and teacher in the time of Covid-19

During this difficult time, when stress and anxiety levels are heightened, looking after yourself becomes essential, not a luxury

By Dr. Sally Eccleston on 29 Apr 2020

Remembering that prioritising your own wellbeing benefits not only you but your whole family.

As all of us spend more time indoors and with our families, looking after ourselves becomes a luxury as we tend to the needs of our children, cook meals, attempt learning at home and maybe even try and work from home too. But during this difficult time, when stress and anxiety levels are heightened, looking after yourself becomes essential, not a luxury.

Here are 5 reasons we need self-care:

  • To help us cope in the moment and to respond more appropriately at the most testing times,
  • To help us restore and replenish physically, emotionally and mentally,
  • To support our resilience and energy supply,
  • So we can access the kind of parent we all want to be – kind, supporting, loving and so on,
  • So we can empower our children with the toolkits for a lifetime so they can become compassionate and resilient adults.
    (With credit to Suzy Reading)

Here are some top tips:

  1. Try and keep some time for yourself, and set some boundaries around this
    Ask yourself how you can be intentional and boundaried around having some time and space to recharge and decompress, whether that’s in the shower, taking a walk alone, designated time to read or simply chill out after the children have gone to bed. This might be boundaried with a family agreement in place, or a conversation with your children about why you need alone time too.

  2. Healthy habits
    A nutritious diet, enough sleep and including physical activity into your routine are all components of self-care. This does not mean treats or your favourite foods are banned! It simply means trying to ensure that a heightened level of stress isn’t leading to habits which might feel good at the time but don’t support your health in the longer term. It’s well known that exercise and movement are good for our physical and mental health, and there are numerous apps and YouTube videos which make exercise from home accessible.

  3. Being realistic
    It’s not realistic to keep up full-time working hours and a full-time parent at the same time. This is the time for forgiveness and self-compassion. There’s no guidebook on how to do what you’re doing. If you strive for perfection you risk burn-out, so keep your expectations realistic.

  4. Set boundaries with friends and family
    It’s important to sustain a sense of connection, but with so much worry and uncertainty present, ensure that other people’s worries and concerns aren’t being absorbed by you. It’s OK to distance yourself from someone if they are persistently sending you Covid-19 related worst scenario news. Let people know you are having a break from worrying news, you can always re-connect later.

  5. Reconnect with a sense of joy and old hobbies
    Maybe this time for you becomes the time when you pick back up an activity you once enjoyed, or start a new hobby. Time at home can be a great time for art activities, baking bread, knitting, practicing a new language or an instrument.

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