Monday , May 25 2020
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An Open Letter to Parents Who Aren’t OK Right Now

All you need to focus on right now is moving forward, one teeny, tiny step at a time.

But move forward with purpose. Your reserves are low. Your capacity is nil. So take what little you’ve got and invest it in the things that will rejuvenate your soul, renew your mind, and replenish your waning energy.

Here are a few simple, yet practical, things you can do to prioritize your physical and mental health during this difficult time.

Stay hydrated

It goes without saying, but hydration is key to physical health, and your physical health has an impact on your mental health. When you aren’t drinking enough water, you’ll feel sluggish, bloated, and foggy, and your mental health will suffer too.

One simple thing that helps me drink more each day is to keep a glass by my sink. Every time I walk into my kitchen, I stop, fill it up, and sip it.

Having the glass out is a physical reminder to pause whatever I’m doing and take a minute to hydrate. Stopping to sip my water is a great opportunity to breathe and be mindful of how I’m feeling.

Spend time outdoors

Sunshine is a great natural source of vitamin D. When you’re feeling anxious and worried, your immune system isn’t at its best. Giving it a boost with a little fresh air and sunshine is just what the doctor ordered.

Another benefit of getting out in the sunshine is that it helps establish a good circadian rhythm. This can help resolve that stress-induced insomnia you’ve likely been dealing with each night.

Plus, being outside just plain feels good. There’s something about nature that soothes the soul. Sit out on your front porch to drink your coffee. Kick the ball around with your kids in the afternoon. Take an evening walk with the family. Whatever you do, get your daily dose of the outdoors. The benefits are worth it.

Move your body

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise plays an integral role in maintaining your mental health. Indeed, physical activity is not only good for your body, it’s good for your mind as well.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Simply put, endorphins make you happy. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap these rewards either. Something as basic as a beginner yoga video on YouTube or a walk around the block is enough.

Along with time spent outdoors, exercise is also ideal for regulating your body’s sleep cycle. A good workout is a solid prelude to a great night’s sleep!

Get plenty of sleep

I keep coming back to the topic of sleep because there is a very real link between sleep and your physical and mental health. Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night can positively impact your body and your mind in a major way.

In one 2005 study of nearly 800 people, those with insomnia were 10 times as likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression and 17 times as likely to be diagnosed with clinical anxiety than people who get adequate rest each night.

While it’s often easier said than done, a bedtime routine can greatly improve the quality of sleep you are getting each night.

What I’ve found works for me is making sure my kids are in bed early enough that I have quiet time to wind down without the constant chorus of “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” ringing in my ears while I’m trying to relax.

I also find it helps to turn off the TV, take a hot shower, and spend some time getting lost in a good book. Doing these things sends a signal to my brain that it’s time to rest and helps my body relax enough so that I fall asleep with relative ease.