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Looking after your emotional health

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Everyone has their own ways of coping, it is important that you accept this and find a way to manage better. Here are some ideas:

Celebrate your successes
Children don?t come with an instruction manual and no one gets it right all of the time, but be sure to recognise that there are things you?ve done really well and that these should be celebrated. Try making a list of all the things you have done in the last week, highlighting the ones that have given pleasure or help to your children ? you may be surprised at what you have achieved.

Look after your body as well as your mind
Eating well and looking after yourself can really boost your mood. Eating well doesn?t have to be expensive.

If you are feeling down or overwhelmed exercise is often the last thing you feel like, but it may be the best thing you can do. It does not have to be something very energetic or take up much time. A brisk ten minute walk or a game in the park with your children can work wonders.

Try not to make your exercise goals too difficult but ease into it gradually so that you can build up the time and effort to suit your own abilities. Look around your area to see if there are any low cost or free exercise classes. It can also be a great way to meet other adults.

Giving up smoking can have huge physical benefits as well as saving money. Quitting can be very hard but, with support, many people do it.

Drugs and alcohol
At times of stress it can be easy to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping. Drug and alcohol addiction can have a major impact on you and your family. If you are using drugs and alcohol to help you get through the day, or you feel you may be addicted to either, talk to someone now.

Do something just for yourself
Looking after the needs of your growing family can take all of your time and energy. Try to get some time to yourself every now and again to recharge your batteries, reflect on things or simply take time to sit and relax for a few hours. All busy parents need some adult time away from children, housework and chores. If you have friends who are also parents perhaps you could trade childcare for an afternoon or evening. The children will entertain themselves and you can return the favour on another day.

Accept some help
Don?t be afraid to accept offers of help and support from family or friends. Even an hour of babysitting can give you time to sit down and collect your thoughts, have a bath in peace or catch up on some housework ? whatever helps you clear your mind. If you don?t have family or close friends nearby, or if you feel more able to talk to someone outside of your family, contact an organisation such as Home-Start.

Meet like-minded people
Some problems are common to all parents and some specific to single parents. Whatever issues you are experiencing you can be sure that there are others out there who are going through similar difficulties to you and who would also find it useful to share their thoughts. You can also come along to our Parent Group programme where you can talk and socialise with people in similar situations.

Get out and about
Look out for free entertainment, activities or educational events in your area for both you and your children. These are just as much fun as things you have to pay for and it gets you out of the house, giving you all a change of scene as well as something to talk about. Events are often publicised in your local library, newspaper or Family Information Service.

Consider a break away
Companies provide holidays just for single parents and their children as well as free or discounted breaks for children away from their parents.

The grass is not always greener
Just as you are probably very good at putting on a smile and a brave face to strangers ? and maybe even family and friends ? so are others. Try not to imagine that everybody is coping better than you are ? it?s likely they?re not.

Every family has its ups and downs and the face people put on in public isn?t always a true reflection of how they feel. Try not to compare yourself to others, and remind yourself that you are doing a great job looking after your children.

Talking can help
Friends and family may be unaware of how you really feel. Talking to someone you trust can really help.

If you don?t have family and friends that you can talk to or you would prefer to speak to someone outside of your family and friends, try social networking websites such as KNBP’s online forums (http://knbp.co.uk/forum/), www.netmums.com or www.dad.info, where you can chat to other parents.

Improve your skills
Improving your skills can give your confidence a boost. If you are planning to go back to work in the future or want to progress at work but do not feel you have the skills you need, look around for free or low cost training to improve your CV or speak to a careers adviser.

Free advice on jobs and training is available from the National Careers Service. You can also search for courses on the website.

If you?re claiming benefits but want some training to help you get into work, speak to Jobcentre Plus about what help they can offer. They may provide support with the cost of training or childcare while you?re on a course if it will help you to get a job.

Get involved in your community
If you?re not working, doing voluntary work for a few hours a week can bring you into contact with people in a way that is satisfying. There are many ways to volunteer. You could try something that will help your CV when you come to look for work, or choose something that has always interested you, or is just for fun.

Source: Gingerbread

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