Being a parent, guardian or caregiver of a child with epilepsy means monitoring your child’s health, scheduling appointments and keeping track of medications. Not to mention the additional responsibilities you may have at home and at work. All of this can be difficult to manage and leaves you with little time to take care of yourself. July 24 is International Self-Care Day and National Parents Day. Use this day to prioritize your well-being and use these 5 self-care tips to help you take care of yourself. A parent or caregiver who takes care of themselves will be able to take better care of those around them.
1. Maintain healthy habits
A simple way to prioritize your self-care is to establish healthy habits. If you have a few minutes in your day, learn how to cook a new recipe with some of your favorite foods. Choose an easy recipe that only requires a few steps and can be prepared quickly. This will minimize stress and help you have more time for other tasks throughout the day.
Creating a good sleep schedule is also extremely important for a parent or caregiver of a child with epilepsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, one-third of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep can be even more difficult for a parent or caregiver of a child with epilepsy if your child is at risk of having a seizure at night. You can sleep in your child’s room, your child can sleep in your room, or you can get up several times a night to check on your child. Consider using a seizure alert device that will wake you up if your child needs help during the evening. Also, consider setting up a schedule with another family member to help watch your child during sleeping hours. Sleep can be a big challenge for families affected by epilepsy. Doing your best to regulate your schedule as much as possible can help you get the rest you need.
2. Try meditation
Meditation is a great practice for parents or caregivers who don’t have a lot of time in their day but need help minimizing stress. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), “Some types of meditation involve maintaining mental focus on a particular sensation or on a repeated word or phrase. Others include the practice of mindfulness, which involves keeping attention or awareness in the present moment without judgment. Meditation and mindfulness can help you reflect on positive thoughts and deal with daily challenges.
3. Make time to exercise
Yoga, light jogging or taking a walk are just some of the ways you can take care of yourself through exercise. You may spend a lot of time focusing on the health of your children or other family members. However, physical activity can help improve your own health by lowering blood pressure, improving mental health and cognitive function, and reducing the risk of stroke. Some parents or caregivers may not feel comfortable leaving the house to exercise, or even exercise in a room too far away from their child in case the child has a seizure. In this case, make a schedule with a friend, family member, or other trusted adult to watch your child while you take the time to exercise.
4. Talk with your friends and family
Connecting with friends and family, virtually or in person, is a good way to decompress if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you are experiencing caregiver overload, talking to another parent or caregiver of a child with epilepsy can offer you additional guidance.
5. Do something you love every day
Maybe you have a hobby that you don’t get to do often. Set aside a short period of time each day to participate in something you enjoy doing. Paint, read, journal, garden, cook, volunteer, or try something completely new! These hobbies may seem small, but they are a way for you to focus on improving yourself and participating in something fun. Your free time can also be used for relaxation rather than pursuing a hobby. Watch your favorite comedy show and laugh with your family, play a board game, or create a playlist of your family’s favorite songs and listen to it together. Doing something fun with loved ones can be just as rewarding as pursuing a solo hobby.
The most important aspect of self-care is to remember that it means something different to everyone. Finding what works for you is key to maintaining your physical, mental and emotional well-being. You can use these suggestions as starting points for your self-care journey.
Find help and support
If you find you need more support or are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, please consult a health care provider.
The Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline has trained specialists ready to provide you with help, hope, support and access to national and local resources.