Adult Self-Care as Prevention
As parents or caregivers, our own lack of mental health can unintentionally cause the kids around us to experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
SO... taking care of our own mental health should be our first priority.
RED FLAGS IN A PARENT/CAREGIVER'S LIFE:
- substance abuse
- suicidal thoughts and/or intense depression or anxiety
- inability to be both physically and emotionally present in your kids' lives (for whatever reason: taking care of an elderly parent, working too many hours, addiction, single parent, mental health issues...)
If you're experiencing anything on this list and you take care of kids, STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND FIND HELP NOW. If the help you need requires you to leave the household (like rehab), explain to the kids that you need to get healthy so that you can take care of them correctly.
KINDS OF HELP AVAILABLE:
- counseling through a professional counselor
- safe, free, childcare
- addiction treatment / 12-step programs
- mental health resources online
- mindfulness meditation
IF YOU DON'T MEET YOUR OWN NEEDS, YOU CAN'T MEET YOUR KIDS' NEEDS.
Learn to recognize when you're "HALT" (a 12-step program acronym meaning "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired") and meet that need ASAP.
Build connections with others who prioritize mental health.
Read & listen to as much information as you can about mental health, local and national resources & programs available to you, ACEs, and PTSD.
Develop healthy personal boundaries. Check out Boundary Boss by Terri Cole.
Recognize your body's messages that you need a rest, and take that rest. Sometimes sitting still in a room alone for a few minutes is enough. Sometimes you need to get a pedicure or massage. Sometimes you just need to take a walk & ground yourself in your five senses.