Why do we need self help, types of self-care and practical tips

The need for self-care

Life in service and remote working families is hectic and at times, stressful. Promoting self-care can support their ability to cope and increase resilience.

When thinking about self-care the analogy of the oxygen mask on the plane. There are good reasons why parents need to fit their own masks first, so they are better able to assist their children. This often goes against a parent's instinct to put their child's needs above theirs.

What does self care look like?

During stressful times, self-care is essential but difficult to do. Self-care includes:

  • mental health,
  • physical health,
  • personal grooming
  • spiritual health (this may be religious for some or about being in touch with nature, their culture and family for others)
  • social health, and
  • emotional health.

Wellbeing is more likely to be achieved when we are well nourished, well-loved, well-connected, well supported, well-rested, in touch with nature, and able to exercise. During high stress, we may need to timetable these things in our lives or ask someone to help us.

Woman, Mother, Child, Parent, Motherhood

The need for touch

Some people deal with grief by detaching themselves from others. Be aware that this can happen and recognise the positives of the human touch that families can often give. Human touch (and even cuddling animals such as our pets) releases oxytocin and serotonin. There are no age barriers to this need. Many people also enjoy having pets to provide this comfort.

Pets can also be a great comfort to children, but they are another responsibility.  Having a dog often makes their owners continue with an exercise routine. You may want to encourage families to consider borrowing a pet for a while or to offer to mind a pet for a friend when they are away.

Dog, Woman, Owner, Pet, Companion

Multitask to make it easier

Physical health will be necessary, and this will help with mental health as well. This can be tied to social activities like walking groups, gyms, and sports teams. Combining activities may prove to be beneficial in many ways. 

Ongoing counselling is recommended, and it is good to remind parents and carers that it's okay to access community counsellors by getting a mental health plan from your GP.  Some people find certain counsellors better for different parts of their journey. They may want a defence-specific counsellor at first but then want to use a community counsellor afterwards, or vice versa.

Film, Negative, Photographs, Slides

When adults are feeling down - here are some good tips to share

  • Choose a memory that raises your mood. Writing the memory down can help. This can be a very effective mindfulness strategy.
  • Download a mindfulness app to guide you. Smiling Minds (a not-for-profit app) can be helpful
  • Message some friends about something funny or ironic that has happened or a photo of the children. Their feedback might cheer you up.

Recommended book

‘When life is not peachy’ by Pip Lincoln Murdoch books is a really good book to use. This can be bought at chain stores like Kmart, Big W, and most bookstores.


When Life is Not Peachy

'An exquisitely illustrated, gentle guide to navigating tough times that makes the ideal gift for a friend in need.
A warm hug in book form 'Warm, wise and brilliantly practical. Pip Lincolne is exactly the woman you want in your corner when your chips are down.' - Clare Bowditch When life has taken a difficult turn, our heart is aching and we're only just holding it together, it's easy to question everything. Who even am I, and how will I keep going? We need someone in our corner to travel this journey with us and help keep our spirits up. This book is a gentle guide for navigating loss, grief, or other sad times - a resource both for those who are downhearted and those supporting a loved one. With thoughtful advice on dealing with friends and family; healthy tips for eating and exercise when you don't feel like it; and a just-keep-yourself-going '101' for when you're feeling very low. It's the bolstering force we need to feel a bit closer to ourselves or find a bit of peace. For years Pip Lincolne has had a dedicated readership through her blog Meet Me At Mike's and Frankie magazine. She wrote this book during some tough times of her own, in the hope that what she learned might help someone else feel a little better some day'.

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Last modified: Friday, 15 March 2024, 3:21 PM