Mindfulness for Parents: Tips to Practice Self-Care
Understanding the biology behind self-care helps us understand how to manipulate different hormones and neurotransmitters to feel better. We can engage in self-care activities to help us feel better. There are hormones and neurotransmitters commonly referred to as “happiness chemicals” in our bodies that help us feel better and manage stress better. These “happiness chemicals” fall into four categories, and certain self-care activities engage these chemicals. Now, of course, there is likely some overlap between activities and how they impact our happiness chemicals, but it’s an important illustration of understanding how certain activities can help you address stress and your needs.
Here are the four hormones, plus strategies to engage these hormones to practice self-care.
Oxytocin is known as “the love hormone.” You may have connection needs; when we receive love and connection, this increases oxytocin in our body, increasing feelings of comfort and happiness. To engage oxytocin, you could do the following self-care activities:
- Play with a pet
- Play with a baby or your child
- Hold hands
- Hug your family
- Give compliments
Serotonin is known as the “mood stabilizer.” You might need to stabilize your mood, and there are certain actions we can take to boost our mood:
- Meditation/mindfulness/relaxation strategies
- Purposefully unplug. Be in the moment during an activity that you enjoy by Disconnecting from your phone.
- Self-talk, cognitive restructuring
- Sun exposure
- Walk in nature
Endorphins are known as the “pain killer.” You might need to reduce pain. We can increase endorphins to help bring some relief to common aches and pains by engaging in the following activities:
- Laughter exercise
- Essential oils
- Watch a comedy
- Eating dark chocolate
Dopamine is known as “the reward chemical.” When you need to reward yourself, you can do the following activities:
- Completing a task
- Eating food
- Celebrating little wins
- Positive affirmations
Below, you'll find a guided meditation on progressive muscle relaxation.
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