Self-Nurturing Tips from OHSU Expert Give Women the Tools to Make it Happen

04/08/03    Portland, Ore.

The OHSU Center for Women's Health Conference centers on self-nurturing for women

Women need to care for themselves. We've all heard that refrain. But how? When? Who has the time?

Paula Acker, L.C.S.W., has been using much of the information from Alice Domar's book, "Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself As Effectively As You Care for Everyone Else," with her patients in her professional counseling practices. Acker, clinical instructor in obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine, counsels women in self-nurturing techniques.

"Self-nurturance is used in my practice for all patients who feel vulnerable and challenged by their life events, even positive events can be very stressful," she said.

The following tips are brief, but useful, she said: Give yourself permission to say no to activities that are stressful, overwhelming, sad or uncomfortable. An example would be to not attend baby showers, if they are difficult for you while experiencing infertility.

  • Self-nurturance can be fun. Treat yourself to one fun activity every single day. It can be a hot bath, good book, painting, movie, new recipe, or taking up a desired hobby.
  • For frustration and anxiety: nurture yourself. Write your thoughts in a journal. Write it out, and get it out of your system. Keeping a journal stores negative thoughts so they are no longer invasive to you. It relieves anxiousness and can help problem solve too.
  • Rest is important. People need at least eight hours of sleep a night and maybe more if they're going through a difficult or stressful period. Sleep is healing and rejuvenating for your mind and body.
  • Learn to meditate. You may not think you can sit still, but you can do it, and you may find it to be the very best stress reducer and nurturing activity that you have ever done. Meditation, however, is not concentration, blanking your thoughts or contemplation. Learn an actual meditation technique from a trained teacher, and you may lower your blood pressure and remain calm for longer periods of time. You may find your mind is sharper also.
  • Volunteer if you have time. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences in life and is bound to bring you new experiences and friendships. It can give you a new purpose in life and help to alleviate isolation and depression.
  • Evaluate your life and how you are doing. Give yourself permission to do nothing and not feel guilty for taking the time to relax.
  • Exercise is good, but don't be hard on yourself, and don't be an extremist, particularly if you are a Type A personality and tend to want to be the best, the fastest, the smartest. You can still get moderate and regular exercise without adding the stress of overachieving. Taking care of your body is self-nurturance.
  • Don't stay depressed or sad too long. All of life has ups and downs, sadness and disappointments. If you feel too low for too long, seek counseling as soon as possible. Having a confidential place to take your problems and cares can release you from the burden and help put you back on track.
  • Nutrition is important. Eating a balanced, vitamin-enriched diet can make you happier and healthier, and live longer. Try some new recipes, and dare yourself to explore new eating patterns and ideas to see what fits your lifestyle.


The eighth annual OHSU Center for Women's Health Conference, "A Celebration of Health," is planned for Saturday, April 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The keynote speaker, Alice Domar, Ph.D., author of the national best-seller "Self-Nurture" will present "It's Time to Take Care of Yourself." Domar is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School; and director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.