“To be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself so that you can have the physical and emotional energy to take care of your family.” – Michelle Obama
The parenting juggle is hard enough, but throw in a global pandemic and stress levels are bound to skyrocket. You may find yourself wearing many hats: nanny, cleaner, cook, entertainer, whilst also juggling a full time job! It’s no wonder that self care has slips to the bottom of the to-do list leaving you feeling tired, deflated and plain old worn out.
As parents it’s important we try to prioritise time for ourselves to recharge and re-set, both physically and mentally. Whilst it is often hard to put ourselves first, research has shown that self care helps reduce stress, increase productivity and inspire feelings of happiness.
So why not fill your cup from some of the suggestions below; self care doesn’t have to be extravagant or pricey but it does have to be all about YOU!
Social media is wonderful in many ways but the desire to constantly stay connected also has a negative effect on mental health – so why not schedule a break? Step away from the scrolling and step into the moment by committing to switching off from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for a whole day once a week
Getting outside and taking in the natural surroundings leads to significant health benefits; luckily we live on a beautiful island with a climate that allows us to get outside, exercise, and appreciate nature everyday. Take a walk, run or cycle around your neighbourhood or even better head to the beach for a walk or a swim and really get those endorphins flowing! NHS UK states that a brisk daily walk for as little as 10 minutes has lots of health benefits including boosting your wellbeing and mood, helping to reduce stress and lowering anxiety. Gradually work up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week and reap the benefits of all that Vitamin D – just don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
We could all do with a bit more zen in our lives so roll out your mat and take a class at one of Cayman’s yoga studios such as Body Works or Cayman Yoga Club. Or check out an online class, we recommend the Yoga Studio app or Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. The practice of yoga encourages the connection between your mind, body and breath which aids relaxation, improves flexibility and strengthens your muscles.
The very act of looking after your skin is comforting and soothing. Le Visage in Camana Bay is packed full of incredible skin care options suitable for all skin types; why not talk to their knowledgeable staff about what options are best for you. Turn your routine into a ritual by scheduling time once a week to really focus on your skin: Wash your face with a cleansing balm and use an exfoliator to remove any dead skin. Next, apply a mask, lie down, close your eyes and relax for 10 minutes. Remove the mask with warm water and finish by applying eye cream, a serum and a night cream. Stresses will melt away and you will enjoy the added bonus of brighter and more radiant skin!
For the ultimate in relaxation, take some time out to enjoy a long soak in the bath. For added indulgence pour in some bubble bath or essential oils and light a scented candle – Le Visage have a range perfectly suited to this. You might choose to unwind to some music, follow a guided meditation or even treat yourself to a glass of wine. Emerge feeling like you’ve been to the spa and prepare to fall into a deep slumber.
Escape reality by losing yourself in a good book. Head to Books & Books in Camana Bay and choose a title from their vast selection. Whatever genre you are interested in: murder mysteries, romance, autobiographies or dystopian thrillers, they have something to suit all tastes. Then simply sit back, relax and let the pages transport you to another world.
Meditation and prayer provide the opportunity to clear your mind of all the chaos and refocus on what’s really important. Meditation has many benefits both physically and emotionally: It reduces stress and feelings of depression, manages anxiety and connects you to your inner self. A journey of self discovery through meditation increases emotional intelligence and self awareness, igniting feelings of gratitude. We recommend trying the app ‘Headspace’ for a gentle guided meditation.
Open yourself up to feeling challenged by trying a new hobby or learning a new skill. Keep it fun and enjoyable without putting too much pressure on yourself and revel in your sense of accomplishment. It could be immersing yourself in a new language or having a go at a sport outside of your comfort zone – the possibilities are endless!
Research has shown that one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and improve your overall well-being is to write a list of the things you are grateful for. At the end of each day spend 10 minutes recording your appreciation; it can be as general or specific as you want. In time this practice will start to shift your outlook towards the positive.
Whilst travelling to and from the Cayman Islands is still problematic, now is the time to become a tourist on your own Island! There are an abundance of hotels, condos and cottages to enjoy a break at and escape the daily grind, you may find somewhere you didn’t even know existed! Choose from the five star hotels on Seven Mile Beach with their decadent spas to a desert island escape of dreams in Little Cayman. Perhaps you prefer the rugged beauty of Cayman Brac or the stunning vistas of Cayman Kai. Re-create the best parts of a good getaway without straying too far from home: no packed schedules, no clutter, a change of scenery and a pristine space to return to at the end of the day. Take the opportunity to unplug, book a spa treatment at The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, or simply enjoy the beauty of the Cayman Islands without any demands on your time.
Getting your hair done is a real confidence booster and a great excuse to sit down and unwind for a few hours! Who doesn’t love a hair wash and relaxing scalp massage? Uniko Eco Salon offers a wide range of services to help you look your best including haircuts, colour and blowdrys. Or why not book an additional treatment such as Hair Botox which takes the frizz out of hair, perfect for Cayman’s humid weather! The salon uses plant-based colours and carbon neutral hair lines so you are also doing your bit for the environment. Uniko Eco Salon also offers men’s haircuts and grooming services.
Sleep is an often overlooked part of self care, we all want more yet we don’t invest in it. Daily stresses, multiple night wakings from children and falling asleep scrolling through our phones translate into an empty tank. According to Matthew Walker, author of ‘Why We Sleep’, we need at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep for our DNA to regenerate and between seven and nine hours of sleep for optimal mental and physical health. A good place to start is by instilling healthy sleeping habits: keep to a regular sleep schedule, step away from all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, avoid heavy meals or stimulants in the evenings and keep your room cool and dark. A good night’s slumber will recharge your parenting powers (i.e. patience!) too so don’t scrimp on the snoozes, prioritise sleep!
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is carve time out for ourselves, away from family and friends, to invest in ourselves. It can feel self-indulgent and guilt ridden but our mental health should be seen as a priority. The next time somebody asks you to do something for them just as you are on your way out to a yoga class or the phone rings as you are sitting down with a good book, think to yourself: can I put myself first here? Give yourself permission to say yes and reap the benefits.
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