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Practicing family self-care

There is no doubt that the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be somewhat overwhelming and stressful for families. Although that is not the intention, we need to learn to take care of ourselves to improve overall health.

Have you thought about practicing family self-care? Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to nurture mental, emotional and physical health needs. When we are deliberate in self-care, it has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety. It helps build good relationships and can make people better parents.

Before You Begin:

When practicing family self-care, keep these rules in mind:

• Be active. Choose your activities and be deliberate in your planning.

• Be conscious. Document what you did, how it made you feel and what the outcomes were.

• Begin with the basics. Start with a few basic techniques — add or drop as you go.

• Do at least one relaxing activity per day.

Activities for the Whole Family:

Self-care activities can be divided into six categories: emotional, physical, mental, practical, spiritual and social. With seven days per week, planning each category into one week should be easy. Here are some simple ways.

• Emotional — watch a good family movie, write a letter to one another, talk about your day, draw self-portraits, find new ways to say “I love you,” tell jokes or do a new craft together.

• Physical — host a dance party, go for a walk (yes, even in the cold), play in the yard, play games on the gaming machines, visit an indoor trampoline park, do yoga, go roller skating or have a pillow fight.

• Mental — read a book together, take a painting or pottery class, look for shapes within the clouds, go on a scavenger hunt, do a puzzle together, host a game night or color together.

• Practical — take care of your everyday household chores by cleaning up, decluttering old toys, make a grocery list, discuss wants vs. needs by making a Christmas wish list or making a meal together.

• Spiritual — develop a gratitude list, volunteer at a community service organization or event, call a relative who you don’t see very often, help a friend in need or attend a faith-based activity.

• Social — visit someone who maybe lives alone, invite friends over for a potluck dinner, host a family slumber party complete with a handmade fort and take in a community social event.

Practicing self-care takes discipline, but in the long-run promotes productivity, boosts your immune system, builds compassion and fosters family bonding. You owe it yourself and your family to be active participants in self-care.

Happy Holidays!

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Carrie Kube is a Director for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board.