Self-nurturance is quite simple. It means seeking out pleasurable activities that are self-satisfying. Yet women in our society feel quite guilty when they take time out of their schedule for personal development or satisfying activities. Why is this? Perhaps many women receive the message from family, friends, spouses, coworkers and/or bosses to be highly productive. This is often equated to personal success, which in turn affects self-esteem. To be highly productive often means working long hours, and then trying to cram into your personal time a meaningful life with some pleasure. Personal time for many women means housekeeping, laundry, cooking, groceries, child care, and other care taking responsibilities and not much time for relaxation, reading, visiting friends or family, or hobbies.
Before having children, women often dream of the time they may have off from work to be with their child(ren). They fantasize, then they will have some control over their schedules. However, waiting and putting off self-nurturing activities could have a profound impact on one’s self-esteem, sense of peace, and physical and mental health. Women are prone to depression and anxiety when their circuits are overloaded, or their schedules are too full. Ask yourself:
• Are you and your spouse both working outside the home?
• Are you the one that plans most social engagements?
• Are you sharing in the cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard
and house maintenance?
• Are you the one that remembers everyone’s birthdays and
holidays, including his family? Is this taking too much of your time?
• Were you brought up to be selfless, nurturing toward others
before your own needs were met?
• Do you feel your life is in balance?
One of the most important aspects of self-nurturance BEFORE PARENTHOOD is that it puts you in the routine to allow yourself personal pleasure after a child joins your life. Motherhood takes an immense amount of self-sacrifice, and saying good-bye to time you may have had for yourself. Trying to carve out time is more challenging for mothers so establishing this now and giving yourself permission to self-nurture is highly important for your health and well being. When mothers do not take time out for themselves, separate from their babies, spouses, etc., they may end up resenting their long awaited child. Babies, children and teens need incredible amounts of attention and devotion. To be there for our families, we must have time regularly for ourselves.
Positive moods are a direct result of feeling good about your life and yourself. They enhance our immune system. Positive moods are often a direct result of strong social support from family, friends and partners, as well as joy experienced through pleasurable activities, such as exercise, dancing, reading, writing, painting, classes, massage, aromatherapy, or naps. Our health and well being depend on giving yourself time for personal pleasure. It is telling yourself you can take care of yourself and deserve to do so.
Women who have experienced infertility sometimes feel they are spending so much on treatment they cannot afford “to take time for relaxation or self-pleasure”. They feel a continued sense of urgency and anxiety that does not cease. Try to remember that if anyone deserves to be nurtured you do, and that giving yourself permission to indulge in your passion or interests will make treatment less stressful and give you something else to focus on besides your time schedule. Also this is true for women waiting to adopt and wondering when they will ever be mothers. Incorporating these techniques will help make you feel good about your sense of self and your self worth as you approach motherhood.