5 Emotional Self-Care Examples For Moms Of Neurodivergent Kids


With so many examples in pop culture, self-care can feel like a joke. Putting another thing on your to-do list is more likely to cause burnout than healing. 

If you want to be able to keep up with a hectic schedule, you need emotional self-care examples — ideas of how you can truly and holistically support your brain and body, no matter what happens. When so much of your life is outside of your control, self-care is more important, even if you feel like you don’t have time.

These 5 emotional self-care examples aren’t about what you do, they’re about how you feel, and ultimately, that’s all that matters when it comes to self-care.

So, busy mama, check in with yourself for a few moments. It’ll save you pain and exhaustion in the long run.

5 Emotional Self-Care Examples

Self-care is less about specifics and more about the intention behind what you do. Five minutes of truly taking care of yourself is more helpful than going on a walk because your child has so much energy. Self-care is not an action — it’s a state of being. Take these emotional self-care examples as ideas, not rules. We trust you’ll be able to find what your body, mind, and soul need.

  1. Cultivating Mindfulness in Daily Routines

In its most basic form, mindfulness is about focusing on the now instead of all the different possibilities that the future might hold — a vital skill for an overwhelmed parent. Mindfulness and meditation are rooted in neuroscience, reducing stress by activating the body’s relaxation response, lowering stress hormones, and improving neuroplasticity. 

You can practice mindfulness in the moment or during a scheduled time of day — that’s one reason why it’s so powerful. Try to meditate for 10 minutes a day, even if that’s while you’re driving, going to the bathroom, or lying in bed at night.

Mindfulness does not need to mean sitting in silence. It could be anything that grounds you: a shower, kneading bread, putting your hand on your heart, a few deep breaths. Prayer is also a form of meditation. Alternatively, you can try a more conventional approach with the phone apps in the “Health and Fitness” section of your App Store. 

Be kind and experiment with what works for you.

  1. Do What You Have To Do To Elevate Your Mood

Your mood is generally the number one thing that is stopping you from doing the things you want to do. So, whether this happens when you want to teach or help your child, or when you want to go to the gym but don’t feel like it… Do something to change your brain chemistry at this very second, even if you feel like you can’t.

Come up with 2 or 3 things that you know immediately make you happy or energized, and do them whenever you need to, in order to be able to do the rest. It could be chocolate, dancing, singing, shopping, seeing friends, yoga, reading… anything that will get out of the grey cloud and allow you to show up. 

Self-care starts with the permission to do the small crazy thing that you love but that your family probably doesn’t like or understand. Do it for you, so you can be better for them. 

  1. Celebrating Small Achievements

Breaking your self-care goals into smaller, manageable steps makes them more approachable and less intimidating. Examples of small achievements could be as simple as taking 3 deep breaths when you’re frustrated with your child, spending 5 extra minutes alone getting ready, or adding a nutritious side to a meal. 

When we achieve even small goals, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, learning, and motivation. This creates a positive feedback loop that motivates us to repeat the actions that led to success, and we are more likely to continue working towards the larger goal.

  1. Redefine Success

If you define your success based on the ability your child has, then you’ll never be satisfied. You’ll always think, there’s more that I can do, there’s more that my child can do, and you’ll start questioning if you’re doing enough. This can quickly spiral to unneeded stress and eventually burnout.

Instead, redefine success based on what you can do, not your child. 

For example, if you want to teach your child to walk independently, you can measure success by setting the goal, “Today, I’m going to play and teach my child about walking.” Then, if that day you work with your child on walking (even if your child ends up having a meltdown instead of taking a step), you know you’ve accomplished your goal.

This puts success back in a place that you can control.

  1. Breathing Therapy

Have you noticed that whenever you’re stressed or feeling negative emotions, you take quick and short breaths? But when you’re relaxed, you take slower, deeper breaths without realizing it? Over time, your brain learns to associate slower, deeper breaths with a more relaxed state of mind. So, by forcing yourself to take longer breaths, even if you’re overwhelmed, you can regulate your brain waves and feel calmer and more relaxed.

Try the 4-7-8 breath exercise. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7, and release through your mouth for 8. This works for both kids and adults.

For more exercises, try the “Breath Hub” App that offers guided exercises. Or read more about it in our blog post here.

Next Steps For Emotional Self-Care

Integrating emotional self-care practices into daily life is key to working with your child’s neurodivergency, promoting independence and meaningful relationships. Dive into ways to support your brain on the good and bad days with the How To Heal From Burnout Guide available here.