When we are parents or carers, self-care often flies straight out of the window because we are always looking after someone else You can’t brush your teeth or go to the bathroom alone, let alone get to a hot yoga class!
People always tell you to rest when the baby is sleeping, but of course you never do. We were so desperate to have some ‘me time’, to make a phone call or clear up the mess so we could think straight, that we never sat down and hardly slept. It was all too easy to be overwhelmed and slip into a depleted fog, with a flashing neon exit sign that read ‘WINE’. We would sprint through the day trying to get everything done and then crash with a glass of wine in our hand.
New mums so often find themselves in this situation. Often, we are so concerned with being a good mum, and wracked with guilt that we are not doing enough, that our mental health actually takes a battering and it’s at this point that it’s important to acknowledge our need for support.
As they get older, we have the school runs, the teen years, the hormones. If we have extra needs in the family, you can ramp this up to the power of ten. Getting the 'village' of support is sometimes another full time job. Check out our Podcast with Penny Wincer, author of 'Tender - The Imperfect Art of Caring'.
We women are so often trying to do it all and the bar is set impossibly high. Enlist your partner, grandparents, friends, family, or pay for some childcare, even just an hour, if you can possibly afford it. Put the wine budget towards a babysitter if necessary. This will give you a bit of time to process what you need – to go to a class, get out for a run or walk, or simply sleep, meditate, or rest. Having short breaks like this means you can come back refreshed and able to Having short breaks like this means you can come back refreshed and able to engage with and enjoy your kids at this precious time. It’s not a sprint after all, it’s a marathon!
CARE FOR CARERS IS ESSENTIAL
We need to ensure we apply routine self-care strategies in our lives, as well as getting skilled at heading off an emergency call from the Wine Witch when things get too much.
Triggers happen when we go into fight flight or freeze response and in our overwhelmed , frazzled states we are often in this survival mode. The addictive voice will kick off when you are dysregulated. Here are some basic settling techniques for your nervous system from Irene Lyon, a nervous system expert.
Gabor Mate's incredible video on the biology of stress and why caring for the carer is absolutely essential, is need to know if you still have any lingering doubts about whether you deserve to put yourself first and ask for support.
How self-care can help on your sober journey
In sobriety, especially in the early days, you will need to build some robust strategies around your self-care needs. In terms of emergency, or reactive, self-care, you need to learn how to:
• read your wine triggers
• recognise when you need to apply emergency strategies to
get you past wine o’clock, or deal with a trigger or a strong craving (see page 109).
In terms of routine, or pro-active, self-care, you need to identify which regular practices:
• help boost your overall wellbeing
• help keep your physical and emotional life in balance
• ensure you are as happy and prepared as you can be for
what life throws at you.
• Build your capacity to deal with stress by helping you process stress more effectively.
Some of the basics may include staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting some fresh air, noticing your mood, movement and sober support group.