Dads – Looking after your emotional wellbeing

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initative

This information sheet provides information specifically for dads about looking after their emotional wellbeing.

Balancing work and life

Having time for work, family and yourself can often seem out of the question. But if you think about priorities, you can plan time effectively. When you feel you have the balance right, it will reduce stress and anxiety and give you more time to do things you enjoy with your family and by yourself. This will improve or maintain your health and relationships, and help you manage your responsibilities without burning out.

It’s important to have hobbies and interests outside of work and home so you don’t feel ‘boxed in’.

What you can do

  • Create an activity log to see how you spend your time (open resource to see example).
  • Track your time over a few days and review how you spent it.
  • Decide if you’re spending enough time on the things you value most.
  • After this assessment draw up a schedule to use your time more effectively.
  • Make enough time for your interests or find a new one like gardening, woodwork or fishing.

When introducing changes, consider the time you spend with your children, how you are involved in their everyday routines and your contribution to the household. You might combine your own needs while spending time with you children, eg. going for a bike ride or doing family chores together or preparing the family meal. Every family is unique, so work out what’s important to you and meets your circumstances. This is essential for a balanced life.

Managing emotions

Being aware of your feelings and thoughts, and how they affect your behaviour is important for positive relationships. Having a positive feeling about yourself (healthy self-esteem) and managing conflict such as anger and stress effectively can be learnt or developed. These valuable skills will have a positive impact on your children, partner and community. If they’re lacking, they’ll impact negatively.

If you need help to manage your emotions, find someone to confide in—a friend, professional or family member—for emotional support. Being isolated from friends and social support is associated with higher levels of depression, and higher levels of diseases. You need to stay connected with friends and loved ones for your own wellbeing.

What you can do

  • Share regular meals and outings with family or friends or stay in touch by calling often.
  • Create a ‘third place’ other than work or home, like a social club or group.
  • Attend a ‘Mens Shed’ to work on projects of your own or with other men without pressure; or have a yarn and a cuppa.
  • Find your local shed on 1300 550 009 or visit www.mensshed.org
  • Join online social networks mensline.org.au (discussion forum) or theshedonline.org
  • Start a journal and write about your thoughts, feelings and activities.

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