Karen Hurworth visits New Mother’s Support Group together with Evie from Sleep Consultants to raise awareness on the importance of mothers & fathers mental healthMothers group proposal
Karen Hurworth, counsellor for children, teens and adults at US therapy, joined with moms, dads and babies at The Hollandase Club to offer tips and suggestions to parents for self-care and self-compassion while in a caretaking role.
Often the challenges of parenting can cause thoughts of “I’m not good enough”, or “I’m not cut out for being a parent”. These thoughts create feelings of inadequacy, stress, overwhelm and sometimes depression.
Karen suggests taking time to recognise what you need and then giving yourself permission to meet your needs. It’s important to take time for yourself to do the things that bring you joy such as listening to music, dancing, hanging out with friends and exercising. This is self-care and will not only enhance your life, but it will also recharge your batteries so that you can care for those who need you.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get the time we want to address our needs. The problem with many self-care strategies is that they need to be done “off the job” when often we’re “on the job”. Karen suggests practicing self-compassion breaks and soothing touch since these practices can be done anywhere at anytime.
Having self compassion entails naming your suffering, acknowledging that it’s part of the human condition and that you’re not alone in what you’re feeling, and then saying a phrase to yourself that comforts you in your situation. Some examples are, “May I have patience”, “May I recognise that I’m enough”, or “May I accept myself as I am.”
A second strategy, offering yourself soothing touch, activates the parasympathetic system, which calms down our nervous system in stressful times much the way cradling an upset baby can soothe them. Try adopting a touch that feels comfortable to you. Some ideas are, placing both hands on your heart, placing one hand on your heart and the other on your abdomen, or placing both hands on your face. You might also try crossing your arms and stroking your forearms in a downward motions with your hands. Our skin is an incredibly sensitive organ and research indicates that physical touch provides a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions and calms stress. Once you have found a comforting touch, take 5-10 slow, deep inhales and long exhales.
Being a parent is full of struggles, but also full of joys. All emotions are valid and are a part of the human condition. Practicing self-care, self-compassion and self-soothing can help regulate our emotions during times of suffering.