How Women Can Better Self-Nurture, with Alice Domar

By Alice Domar
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Dr. Alice Domar will discuss her book 'Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Effectively as You Care for Everyone Else' and focus on how self-nurture can improve a woman's health.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live's Mind and Body Auditorium. Today we are discussing How Women Can Better Self-Nurture, with Alice Domar, Ph.D.

With her outgoing, down-to-earth personality, Dr. Domar has been featured on national TV shows including The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dateline, CBS and NBC Nightly News, and CNN. Dubbed the "fertility goddess" by the media, Domar's research on the effects of stress on female well being shows that the practice of self-nurture can treat a host of women's health problems.

Dr. Domar, welcome back to WebMD Live.

Domar: Thank you.

Moderator: What exactly does self-nurture mean?

Domar: I'd say it means to care for yourself and put yourself amongst your own list of priorities. A lot of people, women, think when I talk about self-nurturing, that I'm talking about being selfish. And there are a lot of books out there on self-care, and they talk about selfish behaviors like 'don't call your friends back' which I don't think makes sense at all. But all the suggestions made throughout my book, half involve self-nurturing with other people. So it doesn't mean a half hour bath or jetting off to Paris for the weekend.

Moderator: Can self-nurture solve or prevent most health problems, in your opinion?

Domar: Absolutely. Stress, right now, is the number one problem cited by American women, mostly because balancing work and family is so hard. And when we juggle them, we leave ourselves last which takes a huge toll on our mental and physical health.

Moderator: In your book you talk about the mother/daughter connection. How does it work?

Domar: A lot of people live in fear that they're going to become their mother. (laughs!) And yet a lot find themselves acting like their mother without even trying. I do a lot of couples therapy, and one of things that's so hard for people to understand is that we tend to learn behaviors after using our parents as role models. So the things that pir mother could do, we also can do, and vice versa. So, there are lots of ways to self-nurture, in terms of your relationship with your mother, ranging from doing something with her to get out of your normal routine, all the way to doing 'cognitive restructuring' to challenge your own negative 'self-talk' when it comes to your mother. I'm 41 years old and my mother is 80 and I still find myself wanting to please her, which I think is a thing so many women find hard to shake.

Moderator: Women are connected to our bodies in a love/hate way. How do we get off this merry-go-round?

Domar: I think it's generous to say 'love/hate'. I can't think of a single woman I know who loves her body. A few years ago, Vogue did a story about me and because of that, celebrities wanted to come and see me. And by everyone's standards, they were gorgeous and physically perfect. Yet they'd sit in my office and list things they hated about themselves. The average woman stands in front of a mirror and points out the things she doesn't like! Men don't do that.

Moderator: Why don't men do that?

Domar: Men are less judged by their appearance, I know that. I read an article a few years ago that asked 'who do you think is more overweight, Roseanne or Jack Nicholson?" Most people said Roseanne, but the fact is that they're equally overweight. Women are definitely judged by their bodies much more so than men are. There are actually many more male actors right now that are overweight than female actors. You get to the point where you don't want to watch these, like Ally McBeal. ALL of them are skinny now! The influence of the media is horrific as far as presenting unrealistic body types to the masses.

Moderator: How important is one's childhood in determining how capable she is of self-nurture?