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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Self-care in Mothering (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

                Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers around the globe!  As a toast to mothers everywhere, I would like to talk about an important topic in mothering: self-care.  Self-care is when you attend to your own physical and emotional needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Mothers are constantly bombarded with parental responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, shuttling kids back and forth between extracurricular activities, attending school programs, providing care during illnesses, etc.  This is compounded by other non-parental  responsibilities such as taking care of one’s spouse or partner, finances, social obligations, your own aging parents, etc.  Finally, add the infamous feeling of guilt to the mix and self-care goes way back in the back burner of mothers’ "to do list."
                Having children and parenting brings with it pride, joy, personal growth, and is a rewarding and unique experience. However, it also puts you at risk for emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.  A recent study shows that parents, regardless of gender, are at higher risk of getting depression than non-parents (Evenson & Simon, 2005) .  I feel it is important than ever before to practice self-care because of the constant demands placed on us from our rapidly changing world.  Striking a balance is key in self-care. 
                If you're not convinced thus far, then consider this classic scenario: when you are in an airplane, in case of emergency, parents are instructed to first put on their oxygen mask before their child’s.  If this sounds selfish, then imagine you decide to first put it on your child and in the process you lose oxygen and fall out. This is not good for you or your child. You often hear mothers saying, “I just don’t have the time.”  I say, “You matter, and value yourself to set aside the time, guilt-free.” A happy mother is a great mother!

 10 Ways to Self-care:
1.    Stay connected with your social network (personally, not just in Facebook, Twitter,…!).
2.    Pamper yourself within your means.
3.    Prioritize your values and responsibilities.
4.    Get comfortable with saying “No” to things that are not priority.
5.    Make time for exercise and good nutrition.
6.    Try to find shortcuts to manage time effectively.
7.    Get organized and remove clutter from your life.
8.    Set aside regular time for your hobby.
9.    Cut down on self-doubt and rumination.
10.  Stay physically and emotionally connected with your spouse/partner.

Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. December 2005.

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