Still, you’re expected to be sociable and entertain guests who want to tell you how beautiful the baby is and how happy they are for you. Meanwhile, there are times when you probably wish they would just go home already, and maybe take the baby with them, so you can take a much-needed nap.
Welcome to fatherhood. It gets easier, but to really take the best care of your new bundle of joy, you’ve got to start taking care of yourself. Good self-care practices help us to be healthier and happier so we can be better parents.
You Owe It To Yourself… And Your Baby
Put yourself on your to-do list. You’re going to shower. You’re going to eat cooked food off a plate at the table. You’re going to talk to another adult for at least five minutes in person or over the phone. You’re going to get 30 minutes of exercise, preferably outside in the fresh air. You’re going to laugh. And you’re going to do these things every day. This is basic self-care 101. As you get used to prioritizing your own well-being, you can get more creative. Join a single-parent support group, take up journaling, or enroll in kickboxing classes to burn stress. But for right now, focus on sleep, food and movement.
A Good Night’s Rest
Studies show that sleep deprivation is correlated with depression and mental illness and can even contribute to heart disease. Going without it can hamper our performance in the same ways drinking alcohol does. You wouldn’t drive your baby around while you were drunk, would you? Of course not, so accordingly, you’ve got to prioritize your sleep schedule. Squeeze in a nap whenever you can by sleeping when the baby does. Also try to remember that this (sometimes agonizing) period will end someday soon — your baby just needs a little time to find a normal sleeping routine that will keep her zonked out through the night.
The research is clear: what we eat can have important implications for our general physical and mental well-being. You need to make sure you’re eating nutritiously and drinking plenty of water. Know your calorie requirements (have you visited your primary care doctor lately?), and make sure those calories are coming from healthful choices, such as complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies show that a lack of healthy lipids correlates with depression and anxiety, so make sure you’re eating enough healthy fats as well.
Exercise For Your Body And Your Mind
Our bodies need exercise to maintain mobility and good health. Failure to exercise leads to muscle atrophy and a host of health issues. It’s associated with higher levels of mental illness as well as heart disease. Low-to-moderate levels of regular physical activity are enough to extend your lifespan and improve your overall health. Consider adding a home gym for easier access throughout your day. You can also take walks around your neighborhood with the baby in a stroller. Even 20 minutes of outdoor exercise can improve concentration and lift your mood.
If you need help staying on top of how often you’re moving, fitness trackers and smartwatches can do the work for you. Many watches, including the Apple Watch SE, also keep track of things like your blood oxygen levels, along other vitals.
Ask For Help When You Need It