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Self-Care Tips for Dads

By Dr. David S. Gruder

Do you manage your time effectively? Do you keep your life in balance? Do you maintain optimum physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness? Do you take care of yourself the way you should? Or, does the story below relate to you?

Dave never got enough sleep. He was lucky if she got 3 to 4 hours of sleep each night. There was just too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all. Lack of sleep turned out to be the tip of the iceberg for Dave. It did not matter to him how many work hours he had to put in, whether in the office or at home. Dave was always drained, perpetually scattered and alone. In time he confessed virtually every available wall in his amply sized executive home office had stacks of papers, files and books propped up against it, always on the verge of teetering over.

His social life was nearly nonexistent. And, his kids were always complaining that they don't get to spend quality time with their dad. Why? Because he didn't know how to manage his time and balance his life. Dave had an under-energized, self-neglectful relationship with self-care in all aspects. He suffered from insufficiencies in:

  • Inner Self-Care — This resulted in exhaustion, irritability, weight problems, chronic stress, physical imbalances, weakened immune system and gluttony.
  • Environmental Self-Care — Dave tolerated home and work ambiences that drained him. People began to undermine his wellbeing, self-esteem and leadership abilities. Crisis and melodrama became part of Dave's lifestyle.
  • Logistical Self-Care — This resulted in complete disorganization. Dave was stretched too thin. He had imbalances between work and play and between spending and saving. He even fell behind with home maintenance or errands.

Healthy self-care is a key foundational element in all forms of integrity: self-integrity, relationship integrity, societal integrity and leadership integrity.

What is self-care? Self-care is far different from self-centeredness. It is also far more than merely good sleep, nutrition and exercise habits. Our bodies are complex machine. We cannot sustain our energy unless we are supporting our spiritual, our psychological, our physical and our energetic aspects of our whole being. Self-care is about keeping your...

  • Energy strong and balanced
  • Mind calm yet alert
  • Body capable of supporting you in all areas of your life
  • Environment nourishing
  • Life logistics under control

Follow these tips and you will manage your time and balance your life:

  1. Maintain basic physical health habits. You need to get enough quality sleep for your body's needs and movement. You also need to add a high-quality nutritional diet to your energy system balancing.
  2. Add time to soothe, recharge and play. Engage in soothing habits that make you purr, such as a massage or a bath. Take time out to restore your inner juice with activities, such as watching your favorite sitcom, gardening or just about any truly creative endeavor that gives you energy. And, don't forget to participate in activities that bring out the kid in you.
  3. Quiet your inner voice. Participate in relaxing activities that allow you to enter inner silence and take a vacation from constant mind chatter. Some people use prayer to quiet their mind. Others will meditate. You can also do Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga and simultaneously take care of your daily need for physical movement and internal quieting.
  4. Arrange your surroundings so that they most deeply nurture you. This includes not only your physical environments but your people environments as well.
  5. Know your optimal blend between "alone time" and "people time."
  6. Master goal setting, time management, file management and money management strategies. Balancing work with play, spending with saving, and making sure that your job and financial choices support your needs for creative self-expression and your ability to spend quality time with those you love while still having energy left over to be of service in the world in ways that call to you.
  7. Streamline your chores and tasks, including home maintenance and errands. Self-care is unavoidably a daily practice. No amount of rest, passion or acts of service can substitute for it. True self-care is simply "enlightened self-interest and service for the higher good."
Psychologist and integrity expert, Dr. David Gruder, Ph.D., D.CEP., provides self-care education keynotes, training, and consulting for the past 30 years to busy dads just like you.
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