I’m an Enneagram Type 2, which means I’m a giving person. I’ve been a giver since I was a little boy. Whatever my family or friends needed, I was right there to provide it. When I became a dad, I amped my giving side up. The kids became my top priority. I believed in order to be a good dad, I had to sacrifice every part of me to give them what they needed. Sleep, my body, my time, and my self-care were placed on the back burner. In fact, I don’t know if I ever really understood what self-care meant.
A couple of years ago, after many years of putting myself way down on the priority list, I hit rock bottom. I was depressed and anxious. If I was going to heal, I had to bump myself up on the list. That didn’t mean I had to remove people and things off the list. It meant that I was highlighted on the list.
I started out by carving out 10 minutes of my day to sit in a quiet mode. During that time, I would pray or meditate inside my room. It was a great start, but I found that even during the quiet moments, I was planning my day and not focusing on myself. And then I began running and documenting my running journey on Instagram. While running, I listened to music or a podcast and it helped clear my head as I paced one foot in front of the other.
Along with running as part of my new self-care routine, I also began dabbling with yoga. I looked up yoga videos on YouTube and tried my best to emulate what I saw. While on vacation, I took part in yoga classes. Those things gave me the foundation to turn off and tune out while stretching my body and listening to what my body was telling me. I try to do at least 30 minutes of yoga every day. When I do yoga, my kids know that it’s my time and I need to be left alone.
The time I give myself has helped me to be a better dad and a better person. In order to be a better parent, I needed to be away from my kids. I’ve been up front with my kids about what I need in order to be better there for them. After a run or quiet self-care time with yoga, I feel more present and my stress lessens. I’m more empathetic to those around me and grace is more easily given.
I’ve long been a fan of Dove Men+Care and the support they give men. Dove Men has partnered with Headspace, a website whose mission is to heal people through mindfulness and mediation. Headspace offers subscribers mediations, sleep sounds, yoga routines, wind-down exercises, courses, and much more. You can receive 3 months of Headspace Plus for free by buying a Dove Men+Care product and upload a photo of your receipt.
Headspace meditation programs can help reduce stress, improve focus, increase compassion and decrease aggression; as found in this study. Compassionate parenting, radical self-care, and letting go of stressful moments and memories are incorporated into my life because of a dedication to self-care and mindfulness. That’s something all of us parents could use more of. Read here to sign up and learn more about how Dove Men+Care and Headspace can help you.