What does self-care mean to you? Here is a definition I found on PsychCentral. “Self–care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.“ I thought it was grabbing a piece of chocolate? Seriously though, during this busy winter season it is important to remember to take time to recharge and renew because it is when our reserves are low that we are most susceptible to colds and stress. So, self-care is not a luxury, it is a vital and necessary part of a balanced life.
What recharges you? Researchers have discovered that as little as 15 minutes in nature is enough to recharge the brain, lower stress levels and increase feelings of well-being. Or maybe you prefer a cup of tea, a good book, a nap, a 10-minute meditation or some music. Whatever makes you happy. Find something (a few things) that give you that “recharged” feeling that you can use every day. Do you have a hobby that can be easily picked up? Whatever it is, it is important to give the brain a break to regain some of its energy. There is also reducing stress, getting a good night’s sleep (adults need 7-8 hours….not 6), being active and eating healthy. If you struggle with ADHD, it is even more important to take time to recharge daily.
Help your child with ADHD recognize what makes them feel good too and instill an understanding for the importance of eating healthy, getting enough sleep (8-11 hours), and exercise in order to recharge their ADHD brain. Cultivate their interest in something that excites them and that they are good at to rebuild the self-confidence ADHD can sometimes whittle away.
Kids are working so hard at school, especially if they have ADHD. The constant stimulus and distractions can use up their physical and emotional reserves so that by the time they get home, the tiniest thing may send them out of control (or at least be more of an outburst than would be normal if they were at their best.) The brain uses the most energy of any organ in the body and those with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine, the “feel good hormone” needed for thinking and emotional stability. As soon as they get home it is time to refuel and recharge. Do not hit the homework before taking a 30-45 minute break for some active fun, and a protein snack.
Help your child discover the little things they can do to calm and recharge in a short amount of time. Going outside, building, coloring, shooting some hoops, or drinking a hot cocoa with marshmallows (yes, a bit of sugar and caffeine calms the busy brain). Notice TV and video games did not make the list as they tend to stir up the wake-up hormone, serotonin, rather than acting to calm. We want them calm and capable of managing their emotions before they start homework. They are more likely to be able to handle the problem solving needed when their emotions are in a good place. Stress and frustrations should not be part of doing homework.
Setting aside time to take care of yourself sends a positive message to your children that it is important to take care of yourself so you can be the best parent you can be and they should do the same. What a happier world we would live in, if everyone took time to take care of themselves.