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Self-Care Sunday

April 7, 2013

More and more we are realizing that in order to facilitate healing in our children, we must prioritize health in our parents. “Self-Care” has become a bit of a new-agey buzz word that seems to be both building steam and losing credibility, all at the same time. Often times

when I talk with parents about self-care they respond with exasperated sighs and uncomfortable shifting on the couch. Parents are frustrated with the idea that “going out for a few hours with my girlfriends” or “catching a game of golf on Sunday” will magically fix their parenting woes. Parents WISH it was that simple. And I tell you what- I do too.

The truth is that a few hours out with your girlfriends or on the green isn’t going to fix anything. The truth is ALSO that those things may still be important. Keeping a foot in “me”-ville while you mostly hang-out in “them”-ville is important, if for no other reason than once you’ve completely vacated “me”-ville, it is exponentially harder to get back. More truth is that self-care is bigger than going out with the girls (or guys). Self-care is a broader commitment to maintaining mind/body/spirit health. Self-care keeps you grounded. Self-care doesn’t fix your children. But self-care does help you weather those trauma tornadoes more efficiently.

Self-Care Sundays are going to be my attempt at reminding you of the importance of self-care, supporting you on the journey, and focusing on my OWN self-care. Although I do not live in the trauma tornado, I visit it often while helping families and children. My work can be so consuming and ‘leaving it at the office’ is actually impossible. Well, maybe not impossible. Maybe if I believed it were possible I’d be further along my own self-care journey!!

Self-Care Sundays may sometimes miss the mark. I will work hard not to give you surface-level suggestions that make you feel I absolutely have no idea what it is like to raise a kid affected by trauma (although truthfully, I really don’t. I can make a good guess at it. But to live inside that tornado? I really don’t know what that’s like). I hope you won’t roll your eyes, though sometimes you probably will.

Self-Care Sundays will also chronicle my own self-care.

Mind/Body/Spirit Approach to Self-Care

When I think about Self-Care, I think about how important it is for each of us to prioritize these different categories of health.

Mind– Keeping our minds healthy. Practicing mindfulness is an excellent place to begin. The benefits of mindfulness are tremendous, and have been documented by Daniel Siegel, MD to be directly related to empathy, insight, morality, emotional regulation, response flexibility…just to name a few. Mindfulness aids with stress reduction. Mindfuless helps you live in the present without perseverating on the past or worrying about the future

Body– Keeping our bodies healthy. Exercise and physical activity. Good nutrition. Sharing loving touch with someone. Exercise and physical activity has been proven over and over again as a crucial component of health. Physical activity releases serotonin!! Nurturing our bodies with healthy foods is another component of self-care. When our body isn’t fueled by high quality food, it works too hard to process toxins. Give your body a head-start by feeding it healthy foods. As humans, we are designed for physical connection with others. Hug, kiss, hold hands. Get a good massage. Enjoy a hot bath with pleasing scents. Remind yourself daily that your body is wonderful and deserves to be loved by experiencing loving and gentle touch.

Spirit– Keeping our souls healthy. Embrace a spiritual life. Participate in leisure activities. HAVE FUN! Connect with others. Play. Laugh. Insert happiness into each and every day. Do things that have no purpose except to bring fun and enjoyment into your life.

My Goals for Self-Care

Mind– One of my 2013 goals is to improve my mindfulness practice. I recently loved reading “Rewire your Brain for Love” and plan to work through the “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Workbook.” I will also work to nurture my mind by having ‘work-free’ times- specific times of the day when there is NO WORK ALLOWED.

Body– In 2012, I ran two half-marathons. This was a huge accomplish for me, as I previously had never run more than five miles at a time. Since 2013 began, I’ve let my mileage drop off, due partially to a foot injury but mostly due to distraction. I’ve let other things become more important. Hitting 20 miles a week is crucial for my stress-management and I’m working to return to my regular running plan. Using my body in a way that pushes it to its limits helps me feel powerful and confident! I’m also working to nourish my body with healthier foods. In general, I make pretty good food choices. But, I can always do better.

Spirit– I need more fun in my life! I will work to include more playfulness and leisure into my day-to-day life. I will read fiction books (literally everything I read is related to attachment, trauma, parenting, or adoption). I will spend more time having fun with my family.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. What are some ways you can actively work to improve your mind/body/spirit health?

~

 

 

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Regan Agness permalink
    April 7, 2013 8:49 am

    Love this! Thank you! I was just talking to a Mom in my Russian group about this and she rolled her eyes saying where is the time. In the next breath she talked about going on medicene. In our fast fix society we forget the old fashion ideas are often the best ways. A walk, a coffee with friends etc… You are spreading the word. Regan

    • April 9, 2013 4:33 am

      Thanks Regan! I know it’s hard to imagine doing something that feels so trite when life is sooo hard. And certainly those small activities don’t make it all better. But what’s worse is when we lose ourselves completely.

  2. April 8, 2013 7:56 am

    I, too, struggle with that idea that “oh, going out with the girls won;t fix anything” but yes keeping aspects of the self from pre-motherhood is a good way from becoming defined by just one aspect of selfhood, which can lead to a stifling of self-growth

    • April 9, 2013 4:35 am

      Kathy- me too! Never ever has going out with friends helped me feel rejuvenated for parenting. But it still keeps me connected with friends and helps my spirit remember that some things are just for me. I had to lower my expectations for self-care (it doesn’t necessarily immediately make you feel better!) and remember that it’s about the bigger picture.

  3. April 8, 2013 9:53 am

    Robyn,

    I often write about self-care, and talk about it sessions as well. We have created an interesting dynamic in our society, where there are so many expectations of how time will be spent that it feels challenging to fit in self-care. I think many people are still wrestling with the idea of self-care being equal to selfish. Great reminder that true self-care includes all dimensions of our self. We have recently re-joined the community fitness center and they offer kids classes. That means I can help my children develop a fitness habit while I get some mom-time in a class of my own. That one is a mind-body-spirit win for me!

    Warmly,
    Ann

    • April 9, 2013 4:37 am

      Yes, doing family friendly self-care is also a great option! My son has recently gotten old enough to ride his bike along with me while I run. We are connecting, having fun, moving our bodies, getting a dose of serotonin, and working toward my weekly mileage goal. WIN in all categories!

  4. April 10, 2013 10:18 pm

    One of the biggest things that has helped me is the concept of choosing joy. I post about it here: http://marythemom-mayhem.blogspot.com/2013/01/finding-joy.html

    • April 11, 2013 5:15 am

      What a great article, Mary. I love the outlook that self-care is certainly a journey, a lifestyle, not a simple one-time manicure. Lots of great thoughts in that article!

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