So the kids are at school. You’ve got a bit of time during the day to catch up on your to-do list from summer, but you find you’re faced with a problem: the anxious realization that the holidays are about to hit.
What may be helpful is to take care of yourself first, rather than focusing on the myriad of needs of others first. Now, I know what you’re thinking - ‘Bretton, you’re saying ‘my only job is to take care of my family and everything else takes a proverbial seat in the rear of the minivan.’ Well, you certainly get my nomination for Sainthood - a Sainthood which may arrive more quickly if you keep your stress level up!
I’m not suggesting you drop the needs of others, rather, make and take time to care for yourself first. Think about the last time you were on a flight and the instruction to ‘put the mask on yourself first before putting your child’s mask on’ - there’s a reason for this... you've got to be able to breathe in order to help those people who rely on you.
So enters in the concept of Radical Self-Care, a term coined by DeAnsin Parker, PhD, a renowned psychotherapist based in New York City. Dr. Parker’s concept and methodologies of taking care of oneself first is gaining ground quickly among the overloaded moms here in the US. It’s a concept that Europeans have known for a long time however.
Dr. Parker says that we’ve become ‘neglectful of ourselves’ in this age of over-stimulation. This, she says, has created an ever increasing flurry of activity that heightens anxiety and tension throughout the day, that if not properly addressed, can boil over and cause severe emotional and physical problems. Dr. Parker says ‘The key to understanding what Radical Self Care means, is to first understand that everything revolves around how you start and end your day. That is the first concept of Radical Self Care.’
Dr . Parker recommends the following as a simple starter regimen...
Tips for Beginning Radical Self-Care
Start of the Day
- Take three to five minutes to lie in bed before doing anything. Put your phone somewhere away from the bed.
- Recall your dreams - these are indicators of anxieties you may not be consciously aware you’re dealing with.
- Start with an affirmation like ‘Today will be...’ Very important for creating the day you want.
- Take a break in the middle of the day. Take a walk, read a book, draw, meditate, or meet friends for lunch or tea. Whatever kind of time you can make in the middle of the day to slow things down, even for ten minutes can make a world of difference explains Dr. Parker.
End of the Day
- Pick a time to put your phone away, shut off the computer and turn off the television. Stick to it!
- Let go of any concerns you have. Dr Parker says this is tricky because many people believe that they aren’t supposed to think about their concerns. She suggests letting them enter your thoughts and then consciously let them go in some way, as though they are pieces of paper fluttering away over a hill with the wind. Let the unconscious take over for the night, making way for a refreshing tomorrow.
- Get your senses ‘differently’ involved - take a bath with lavender, listen to soothing music, lower the lights.
DeAnsin Parker, PhD., is the author of the critically acclaimed Yogababy, available at Amazon.com. She has a new book coming out soon titled Unglued. Be sure to visit Dr. Parker’s website at Goodsonparker.