Family is said to be one of our greatest blessings in life. It brings us happiness and comfort. However, the world can be very complicated, and raising a family can be challenging at times.
Responsibilities and all the other pressures in life can be overwhelming that we forget to check on ourselves. Perhaps you might be thinking that being a good parent and at the same time prioritizing your mental health is impossible. But it should not be the case.
Data shows that among the people who suffer from depression, 68% of the women and 57% of the men are parents. The time of pregnancy is typically the highest peak of their depression. Parents of children with special needs, such as ADHD and autism, are also found to have higher stress levels than other parents.
The mental load of being a parent is no joke. You are responsible for providing for your family, so you work for hours and sometimes even get a second job.
At the same time, parents are supposed to be with their children as they grow up. They should discipline and guide their child to become good people. Constant effort to balance these responsibilities can be overwhelming and exhausting.
Good Parenting Starts With A Healthy Mind And Body
Some parents may think that taking a moment to evaluate and re-align your mental health is a waste of time. We are always so caught up with how to become a good parent, find a better job for our family, secure a promising future for our children, etc. But often, we fail to notice that parents’ mental health status may have critical effects on the children.
For one, there is an association between bad parenting and depression. Depression can make a parent hostile, ill-tempered, and disengaged. Most of the time, the parents themselves are not aware of the deep-seated issues causing them stress.
In effect, children of parents with depression tend to have poorer physical and mental health. It could harm the child’s temperament and influence the development of various behavioral and psychological problems in children later on.
These children tend to have more deficient interpersonal skills, maladaptive stress response systems, and a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
Keeping Your Mental Health In Check
Knowing the gravity of the parent’s mental health and its effect on the parent themselves and the children, what can we do? What are some of the ways you could do as parents to keep yourself and your family’s overall well-being in check?
Becoming a parent makes your situation more complicated, but the essential practices of keeping a healthy mind are still applicable to you.
Have A Safe Outlet For Your Thoughts And Feelings
Most of the common reasons for different psychological problems root from long-suppressed feelings. Leaving our feelings unaddressed is a recipe for a breaking point in the future. When we push our feelings under the bed, it does not go away. It seeps into the surface in other and possibly more toxic forms.
Having emotions, however negative, is part of being human. Being a parent is not supposed to make you immune from having bad feelings. What is important is that we process it, we express it in a healthy way from which we will try to resolve it.
You can keep a diary or a journal to write about your feelings. Writing can be liberating and reflexive. Through writing your feelings, you can gradually understand where they’re coming from, and it can serve as a buffer to your emotions and irrational bursting out.
An outlet can also be a friend whom you can trust and are comfortable sharing your feelings with. Lastly, seek professional help to better address your emotions.
Find An Activity That Makes You Feel Good
When we become parents, we do not stop being ourselves. Despite the busy schedule and the mounting responsibilities, we still deserve some ‘me’ time. Not being able to do so may negatively affect our well-being. So, no matter how challenging the situation is, try to schedule your week to squeeze in a day or a few hours dedicated to yourself.
Try not to stop doing the activities and hobbies you enjoy before becoming a parent. For example, you might be a music enthusiast and you used to play a lot, or maybe you are a fitness geek and you work out regularly, or an artist and you enjoy painting or drawing. Find time to do it even just for an hour.
A simple break such as this can be a helpful breather to clean off your mind from time-to-time.
Healthy Body: A Healthy Mind
This concept may not be new to you, but as we all know, maintaining good physical health influences our psychological well-being. On the one hand, physical discomfort and pain can negatively affect our mood and temper; it can either make us feel sad or easily irritated.
While on the other hand, a problem in our physical health can be a sign of a psychological problem. Some of these examples are having a headache, muscle pains, low pain tolerance, and fatigue. These symptoms can be a physical manifestation of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Aside from addressing the root causes of the psychological problem, if there are any, keeping an active and healthy lifestyle would help alleviate this problem. Proper exercise and proper sleeping and eating habits significantly improve your mood and ease your anxiety.
It is true when they say that to be able to love others, you must first love yourself. Being a parent can mean having a tantamount of work and household chores.
We direct all our efforts to become a good parent, but we must remember that to be a good parent is to first be good in ourselves. Maintaining your mental and physical health is caring for your family.