Dr. Lingley-Pottie with a coach from the Stongest Families Institute images

Be kind to yourself

Infuse your daily routine with self-love for a happier, healthier heart

By Jill Chappell

We’ve all been at the boiling point of parenting. It can be a signal (especially to those within hearing range) that you haven’t been giving yourself the same love you’ve been sharing with your children.

“As adults and/or parents, our lives can be chaotic as we try to balance priorities,” says Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie. “We often don’t take time to look after ourselves. We can be hard on ourselves. Sometimes our expectations are too high or unrealistic. This pressure can cause increased symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, affecting our mental health.”

Lingley-Pottie is president and CEO of the Halifax-based Strongest Families Institute, a non-profit organization that delivers evidence-based mental health programs to children, youth and families through innovative coaching by phone or via the Internet. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is proud to provide financial support to the nationally and internationally recognized charity, with services throughout Canada, Finland, piloted in Vietnam, and will soon be available in New Zealand.

“Good mental health is important for everyone,” says Lingley-Pottie. “Self-love means making an effort to be kind to ourselves. Praise the effort you put forward, no matter what the outcome. Say kind things to yourself. Talk positive about yourself and love you for who you are; ‘I am a nice person.’ ‘I am kind to others.’ ‘I tried my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.’”

This is just one technique the Institute suggests parents and children adopt in its skills-based programs. When individuals learn to deal with the symptoms that cause anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, they become more capable of coping with the triggers that cause frustration and anger to boil up in the first place. Lingley-Pottie says a simple way to start practising self-love is by making time every day to “Take 10.”

“Treat yourself by doing things you enjoy such as reading your favourite book, taking a walk or a relaxing bath,” suggests Lingley-Pottie. “It can be hard to find time in our day but booking 10 minutes a day for your personal self-care goal will improve your overall mental health and mood.”

Infusing the practice into your daily routine can reap big rewards. It ensures you’re nourished, energized, and capable of providing that rich, unwavering love we all want to give to our family. It also has the added benefit of modelling the behaviour for your children.

“As parents, we can set an example by helping our children learn the importance of using self-love and self-care skills,” Pottie-Lingley says. “Use positive self-talk around them and encourage them to be kind to themselves. This will equip them with skills early in life to help build confidence.”

Perhaps February should be the month you stop putting self-love on the back burner. Consider taking the plunge by practicing self-love goals each day. Before you know it, your life just might be steeped in peace, patience, and a more positive you.

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