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 added responsibilities you may have at home and at work. All of this can be tough to manage and leaves you with little time to look after yourself. July 24 is International Self-Care Day and National Parents’ Day. Take 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 that practices self-care will be able to better care for those around them.
1. Maintain Healthy Habits
A simple way to prioritize your self-care is by establishing healthy habits. If you have a few minutes available in your day, learn how to cook a new recipe with some of your favorite foods. Pick an easy recipe that only takes a few steps to make 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 incredibly important for a parent or caregiver to a child with epilepsy to establish. 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 may sleep in your child’s room, your child may sleep in your room, or you may get up multiple times a night to check on your child. Consider using a seizure alert device that will awaken you if your child needs assistance during the evening. Also consider setting up a schedule with another member of your family to help monitor your child during sleeping hours. Sleep can pose a great challenge for families affected by epilepsy. Trying 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 do not 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 keeping mental focus on a particular sensation or a repeated word or phrase. Others include the practice of mindfulness, which involves keeping attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments.” Meditation and mindfulness can help you reflect on positive thoughts and cope with day-to-day challenges.
3. Take Time to Exercise
Yoga, light jogging, or taking a walk are just some ways you can practice self-care 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 lowering your risk of stroke. Some parents or caregivers may not feel comfortable leaving the house to go exercise, or even exercise in a room that is too far away from their child in the event their child has a seizure. In this case, set up a schedule with a friend, family member, or other trusted adult to watch your child while you take time to exercise.
4. Talk with Friends and Family
Connecting with friends and family either virtually or in-person is a good way to decompress if you are feeling overwhelmed. If you are experiencing caregiver overload, talking to another parent or caregiver of a child with epilepsy may offer you some additional guidance.
5. Do One Thing You Love Each Day
You may have a hobby that you don’t have the chance to do often. Set aside a short period of time each day to participate in something you love to do. Paint, read, journal, garden, bake, volunteer, or try something completely new! These hobbies may seem small, but they are a way for you to focus on self-improvement and participate in something fun. Your free time can also be used to relax rather than pursuing a hobby. Watch your favorite comedy show and laugh along with your family, play a board game, or make a playlist of your family’s favorite songs and listen to it together. Doing something fun with your loved ones can be just as rewarding as pursuing a solo hobby.
The most important aspect of self-care is remembering that it means something different for everyone. Finding what is right for you to preserve your physical, mental, and emotional wellness is key. You can use these suggestions as starting points on your self-care journey.
Find Help & Support
If you find that you need more support or you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, please consult with a healthcare provider.
The Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline has trained specialists standing by to provide you with help, hope, support, and access to national and local resources.