What is self-care?
In a general sense, self-care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. Self-care is different for everyone and changes with moods and situations. It might be about how we deal with our emotions when things are a little difficult. Being mentally healthy and living well is important to every single one of us. It’s about enjoying life and being connected to friends, family, community and culture.
Why is self-care important for family day care educators?
There are three main reasons self-care is important for family day care educators:
- Children learn the importance of self-care by watching and learning from you
- For you to be able to do your job effectively, you need to be looking after yourself
- Educator fatigue can make you vulnerable to stress, burnout and mental health problems.
Family day care educators experience intense daily demands on their time and energy, which makes it easy to forget that looking after yourself if just as important as looking after the children who attend your service.
There are many ways to practice self-care, and there is no one approach that suits everyone. Some examples of self-care activities that people enjoy include journaling, cooking, reading books, being physically active, meditation, spending time with loved ones, being outdoors or taking a bath.
To help uncover the most suitable self-care strategies for you, we suggest:
- Reflecting on what activities help you recharge and relax
- Identifying any new activities or experiences you would like to try
- Allocating specific times or days of the week for wellness activities so they become part of your routine and are less likely to drop off at times of increased work demands or other competing priorities.
Asking for help
Support from your network
Family day care educators wear many hats, which can make it challenging to look after yourself. Remember, you are not alone. Support is always available if you need it.
Your informal support network might include family members, friends, other family day care educators, mentors, or a spiritual or religious leader. Talking to these people can often help you through challenging times. Understanding who is in your network, both personal and professional, is the first step to identifying who you can reach out to when facing challenges that impact your health and wellbeing. A toolkit is available on Ahead for Business that helps you to identify your current networks, making it easier to reach out in times of need.
Sometimes you may need more support than what your informal network can provide. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of running the business side of family day care. If this is the case, it may be worthwhile to consider these options:
- Make an appointment with your local doctor. You can find a GP with an interest in mental health issues through Beyond Blue beyondblue.org.au/get-support/find-a-professional
- Find a psychologist by postcode, issue or name through the Australian Psychological Society psychology.org.au/Find-a-Psychologist
- If you are in need of immediate support contact Lifeline, a 24-hour telephone counselling service (13 11 14).