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Anxiety is one of the most common mental conditions affecting people across the globe yet without a doubt, specific situations can make anxiety a bigger issue for some, rather than hours. These can include a lack of available support from friends, family or a partner. In fact, one recent study found that the stress of bringing up children alone can result in poorer health later in life. The research, carried out by scientists at Harvard University and published in the Journal of Epidemiology, analyzed the responses of over 25,000 women from various countries, finding that the risk was greatest for those living in England, the United States, Denmark and Sweden. Of course, men who are raising children alone face the same stress factors, so it is vital to keep stress and anxiety at bay as much as possible through positive lifestyle choices. Some of the most successfully proven ways to keep anxiety at bay as a single parent include:

  • Understanding      What Anxiety is: When we are in the throes of an anxiety or      panic attack, it can seem as though we cannot breathe, we are about to      faint, or we are going to have a heart attack. At this precise moment, our      body goes into full ‘fight or flight’ mode: stress hormones rush through      our system and we begin to take in too many short breaths, flooding our      system with oxygen and suffering from a range of symptoms which include      muscle pain, a rapid heart rate, etc. For some people, simply knowing the      underlying facts behind a panic attack, can help them calm down. They      know, for instance, that deep breathing is one guaranteed way to lower the      heart rate, or that when hyperventilating, breathing into a paper bag will      help bring oxygen levels to normal. The first step towards stopping      debilitating panic attacks, is knowing that despite their seemingly severe      symptoms, ‘this too shall pass’ and ultimately, an anxiety attack is your      mind tricking you into thinking you are actually in danger when you are      not.
  • Taking up Yoga      or Mindful Meditation: Far from a hippy pastime, yoga and      mindful meditation have been officially recognized in numerous recent      studies, owing to their ability to reduce stress hormone levels. Yoga is      now used in a variety of settings, including eating disorder centers, drug      rehabilitation centers and centers for the elderly. Its power is believed      to arise from a combination of pranayamic (or deep) breathing, the      concentration involved in performing various poses, and the strong      mindfulness component of the activity.

Mindfulness meditation, meanwhile, is considered so successful at battling stress because it encourages us to accept difficult/sad/stressful thoughts and emotions without trying to inhibit, conquer or evade them. We acknowledge these thoughts and feelings, and allow them to come and go, like waves, slowly observing them as they change and eventually disappear. When we are calmer, we look into these thoughts and emotions and find a positive way to respond to them.

  • Time Spent in      Nature: We      all tend to use a little more technology than we should these days –      children as well as adults, it seems, are glued to their screens (tablets,      phones or television sets) for hours daily, ignoring our vital      relationship with nature. Experts say that by distancing ourselves form      nature, we open ourselves up to a host of health conditions (both physical      and mental), including obesity, Type II diabetes, difficulties with      concentration, etc. Studies have shown that Nature has a power effect,      improving performance both in the workplace and at school, and lowering      levels of stress hormones.

The next time a bit of bonding with your child or children is the order of the day, make it a point to head for a beautiful natural area. Scientists say that as is the case with yoga, one of the reasons nature has such a powerful effect on us, is that it gently cajoles us into a mindful state. Teach children to really enjoy ‘the here and now’ of their experience in nature by pointing out the sights, sounds and textures they encounter in the trees, leaves and wildlife.

  • Manage Time      Optimally: There      are wealth of excellent reads, both for purchase and free (online), which      will help you be more productive than you ever imagined. It all has to do      with time management – organizing yourself well so that you can be more      productive at work and happier at home. Sometimes, all it takes are just a      few small changes. It is also important to stop trying to attain      impossible standards of perfection and to focus instead on making a few      important changes. Honing your time management skills is highly      recommended if you are a working single parent.

This article was contributed Single Parent Advocate, and its community and supporters by Helen Maxwell.

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Airplane flying 101.

“Put your oxygen mask on before assisting anyone next to you”. My favorite metaphor for self care that can usually elicit
an eye roll or a list of tasks that are “more important” than taking some time
to indulge oneself. This response is especially true with my single parent
clients. This notion of self care takes a back seat to the day to day tasks and
chores that fall solely on your shoulders. Let’s also not forget that it takes
a lot of time and money to engage in the typical self care like a massage, spa
day or a night out. So what do we do when something seems out of reach? We
don’t prioritize it. Instead we make time for the more tangible self care such
as eating unhealthy food, a couple glasses of our favorite beverage, and
cancelling on social plans to stay at home in comfy clothes. When we don’t tend
to our own needs, but consistently prioritize other’s, is the breeding ground
for anxiety, depression, anger and resentment. Prioritizing healthy, regular
self care is necessary for you to live a more joyful life and it is also an important
skill to model for your children. If you can’t take the time to prioritize and
take care of yourself, how can you teach this skill to them? Re-defining what self care looks like to
better fit your life style is key to actually engaging in it. Below are some ideas and tips of how to make
self care work for you!

 

Do the boring stuff.


Self care isn’talways about pampering and indulging. Sometimes the best form of self care is organizing and
completing the tasks that we least want to do. Everyone has their certain chore
or engagement that they put off until the very last minute or blow off all
together. This can be paying bills, going to the doctor, sending thank you
cards or going grocery shopping. The common mantra of “I’m so tired I’ll do it
_____ (insert: later, tomorrow, next week, next month, never)” allows us to do what
feels comfortable with our time off such as sitting in front of the tv, eating
take out, having another glass of wine or shoving laundry into a pile. This
practice of avoiding mundane tasks can give us immediate gratification, but if
this becomes a common practice, can lead to increased levels of stress and
anxiety. Crossing the tough stuff off the to-do list regularly can be an
immediate source of gratification and accomplishment. I don’t think anyone has
ever had clean sheets on their bed or all the bills paid on time (or early) and
felt more stress afterwards about doing it. Setting a specific time to do
whatever you typically put off and holding yourself accountable to do it is
self care at its finest.

 

Ask for help.

We often put the expectation on ourselves that if we don’t get X,Y and Z done
independently or without assistance than we are less than or a bad mom/dad.
There tends to be a lot of shame around asking for assistance from friends or
family so we avoid it leading to packed schedules, a feeling of being stretched
too thin, and harsh self judgement. A good form of self care is asking for
help. Whether it is asking another parent to give your kiddo a ride to soccer
practice or home from school, reaching out to a close friend or family member
to come over and watch the kids one night, or taking that co-worker up on their
offer to bring you lunch one day. Help and support is an absolute necessity for
self care and decreased stress and there is zero shame in asking for it.
Chances are, friends and family will be more than willing to help you help
yourself.

Be kind to yourself.


We are our own worst critics. That little voice in your head that is constantly
judging or critiquing your every move, mistake and success can be absolutely
draining. A simple, but very challenging, technique to increase your self care
every day, is to increase the amount of kindness that you give to yourself.
Making time to reflect on something positive you have done, letting go of a
judgement you have placed on yourself, or affirming yourself can lead to an
instant increase in mood. Positive affirmations are a simple way to work this
type of self care into your daily routine. Positive affirmations can feel a
little funny at first, but there is plenty of research to show the positive
effects they have on self esteem and mood. Next time you find that voice in
your head being critical or when you are not feeling good enough, try replacing
that thought with one of these affirmations: “I am enough” “I can handle what
is put in front of me” “I am at peace even when life gets crazy” “I am doing
the absolute best I can” “I am a really good mother/father”. Even if you
struggle to believe what your telling yourself, say it anyway.

 

Get creative!

Self care doesn’t have to involve large amounts of money, getting away from long
amounts of time or needing child care. Get creative with what makes you feel
like you hit the reset button. Make homemade spa masks with your kids and have
a “family spa day”. Create a fun and cozy “reading corner” then take 15-20 to
curl up and read by yourself or with your little ones. Go for a long walk. Have
an at home dance or sing along party. Have a gardening day or a cookie baking
contest. Take what works for you and find a fun way to make it kid friendly.

Last but not least, if you can take the time to get a
massage or a night out with friends, take it with no guilt! Remember, if you
aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to give your best self to
your kids and those who you love around you.

By Stacey Ojeda

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #100694

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Time is fleeting, especially for single parents - and their kids. Single moms and dads work both ends against
the middle with time and money in a valiant effort to give their children more than they can truly provide alone. In fact, if you break it down, this effort causes a certain amount of self-neglect. Many single parents go without self-care:

Self Care

1. Physically: Healthy Nutrition/Vitamins, Exercise, and Rest

2. Spiritually: Quality Time with God, Family, and Friends

3. Mentally: Education and Empowerment

For those of us who are single moms and dads, or who are passionate about helping single parent families, it is so important to remember and OVERCOME this.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day present a perfect opportunity for single families to enjoy the gift of time together. If you are an employer of a single parent, or a neighbor, or family member, or even a minister, you can give the gift quality
time with family, or time for rest – or better yet BOTH!

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day also present a perfect opportunity for Empowerment. Both parents and children often need help in “gifting” in a single family. It can be awkward to help your own child recognize you when you are parenting alone.


Kids need to be empowered with ways to express their love and gratitude to their parents. Parents themselves often feel undeserving, or as if they are broken. I really think it is important to acknowledge that being a single family is ok. It may not be what was planned – but it does not mean that single families are broken. There are many paths to single parenthood and it is time to acknowledge that Single Families are not necessarily “broken”. Recognizing single parents by collecting and providing cards and/or restaurant gift cards, movie passes, or other ways for the families to get together is a great way to engage the community to support families who can be very low and feeling incomplete – or worse yet, inadequate.

In order to empower single families during this time, Single Parent Advocate hosts a Mother’s Day Banquet and provides empowering speakers to help remind single moms of how precious and full of promise and potential they are. We also provide crafts for the kids to make and carnations to give. It is always a special time for all of us.

For Father’s Day, in the past Single Parent Advocate has hosted BBQ/picnics and provided sponsor donated raffle prizes that include tickets to local sports events, movies, and other activities that fathers can enjoy with their kids. We have also hosted self-defense workshops and honored fathers at a benefit concert with certificates of recognition and
thanks. Dads are tough to get out and be a part of these things – but it is so important. If you are single dad, please plug into a local single family group

If you are a single mom or a single dad and you are reading this,  please give yourself an honest break alongside your children, and your single family friends – enjoy the gift of time this year. Quality time to rest, play, pray and recharge inside and out as individuals and as a family or community. Remember you are irreplaceable and invaluable in the lives of your family.

 

self care promise for single parents

Often single parents ask me about “being mother and father”. I really don’t follow that mentality. I always looked at God as my spouse in our household during my time as a single mom. That is His promise and His place in a single family. So, even though my son’s father was absent, there was rarely (if ever) a spirit of grief or resentment there - because God made a way. He always filled our hearts and hopes, and He always made a way.

Ok, so here are some words of wisdom from others who inspire me – I hope you will write these on your heart, post them on your fridge, and teach them to your children. Guard your comings and goings with thanksgiving, hope, patience, grace, and above all else – love.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Days Everyone!

 

 

 

Psalm 68:4–6 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him wh rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing…

 

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside
of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” - Earl Nightingale

 

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. -Thomas A. Edison

 

A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time
to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give
up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil?

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human
heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while
they live.

13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it
and nothing taken from it.

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Advice for Single Parents as we get BACK TO SCHOOL!!!

 

School Supplies (check) - Support System (loading...)

 When you think of self-sufficient you would say it means being able to do it all on your own, without help from anyone. Take a second to look at your daily routine. Is that really realistic? Even the most successful people rely on others for support, from parents who are willing to babysit, to friends who are willing to teach you how to change the oil in your car. You're doing it all on your own, it can be challenging to figure out how to build a support system for yourself and your kids.

As you prepare for the school year, take a look at a few starting points to help build your circle. Think of the people who come to mind who will be able to help or point you in the direction of another resource, even if they aren't able to help themselves. 

Packing backpacks Single Parents helping Single Parents

Who Do You Trust?  

If you had to leave your kids with someone right now, who would you call? The answer provides a pretty good indication of who you trust. Most likely, this list will be family members who live nearby, as well as your closest friends and neighbors. With school starting soon this would be the person you would call to help with pick up if you are running late from work.

Who Do You Respect or Hold in High Regard?

There might be people in your life who you don't know very well, but who you have a lot of respect for. These individuals might be excellent sources of help. This person maybe able to help you make decisions that you otherwise wouldn't be able to make based on your level of stress.

 

Who in the Community Might Be Able to Help?

Is there a church or support group nearby?  How about other single parents in your children's class or neighborhood? These people will be willing to support you just make sure to be clear and willing to help them in any way as well. 

Guess what?

You've begun to build a support system. Start contacting these individuals as soon as possible to share your need and even if they can't help you themselves at this time, they may be able to point you in the direction of others who can. Stay connected with Single Parent Advocate. Check out our closed Group created as a message board for Single Parent to communicate and give advice.

 

Single Parent Advocate is actively gathering school supplies for registered single parent families in the DFW area.   Would you support these families?   There are 3 ways to help:

1.  Click Here and join donors by making an online financial donation today

2.  Click Here to Volunteer at our backpack stuffing or distribution gatherings in August

3.  Purchase and deliver suggested supplies at one fo the locations below

2015 Back to School Supply Drive for Single Parent Advocate2015 school supply list

Together we can make a big difference!  Thank you for your support!!

 

 

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