September 30, 2006

Importance of Self-Care for Parents and Caregivers

David D, a nurse consultant specializing in suicide and self harm, shares about his practice for processing the extreme situations that he engages at work:
My wife and I both often come home straight from some hospital trauma, have done throughout the more than two decades we've had kids. We've always made straight for each other like homing missiles and encouraged each other to unload, and the kids fully expect us to be standing or sitting together quietly rambling on for a while...! Then, romping around with the kids and the dog for a while and being as childlike as possible myself is great for switching my brain into different mode. Also, I tend to jump into trainers and go for a run, dive into the gross physical for a while, breathe fresh air and generate some endorphins. Its also made daily spiritual practice compulsory rather than an option I can drop.... Hey, occupational trauma can have lots of benefits, come to think of it.....
In parenting groups we talk at length about self-care and how we can't give to others what we don't give to ourselves. Often parents' highest wishes and intentions are to be present for, nourishing and supporting their children. And yet if the emotional tank is empty in relation to oneself, it is not possible to genuinely be deeply emotionally present for another. David's post gives concrete examples of ways to refresh and replenish
  • Make contact with other humans and release excess emotional content
  • Model for children the necessity of this process (self-care) and create routines where children can expect this to be the norm
  • Get active and step into experiencing life that is happening now -- with the kids, the dog, the fresh air, etc.
  • Play, be childlike
  • Recognize what is essential for sustaining such degrees of information input (i.e. spiritual practice becoming compulsory)
David also says that he appreciates this work because:
It s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s me until I end and widens the horizons of being beyond any notion of me. that's what living is all about, eh?

1 comment:

ashley said...

Another comment from David Duffy:

Just to add to the thoughts I expressed, its long been known that, rather than collapsing in front of the TV or suchlike after a stressful day, its often better to actively engage in something which exercises us in other ways to our main stressor. Peter Drucker, the management guru, used to advise his top business men to take up a wholly different activity once they left the office -change the suit and become a great stamp collector or bird watcher or expert on roman coins... Nowadays, we'd think in terms of re-balancing, wouldn't we? However much we enjoy our job(family, hobby, sport, whatever)we can have too much of it and burn out. Rather than do less of it, though, maybe its good to do MORE of something else, and thus find ourselves re-energised and de-stressed...
David Duffy