Self-Help: How Women Can Better Self-Nurture (cont.)

Moderator: Are physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue entirely different, separate things?

Domar: I think they're tied in. It's hard to tease them out. Physical fatigue is if you don't get enough sleep or if you've been running around. But emotional/spiritual fatigue often feels the same.

Moderator: What are some every day things a person can do to nurture herself?

Domar: I have two easy things to do. Every day, at least once a day, when you start feeling stressed out, stop yourself and say, "What do I need right now?" I do that. It may be something simple as to take a two minute relaxation break, or look up a joke on email, or call a friend, or go for a walk, or decide to order a pizza for dinner! But you need to check in with yourself on a daily basis to find out what you need. And every morning, when your alarm goes off, spend 30 seconds to think about what you can do that's nice for yourself that day. Whether it's buying yourself a fabulous piece of fruit, or calling a great friend, or buying yourself flowers, anything!

Moderator: I love the time pie. Explain how I can reorganize my life to have more time.

Domar: The idea is that most of us waste a fair amount of time ... so we recommend that you take a piece of paper and draw a circle and visualize this as a pie. It's a time pie of your average weekday. So, if you cut it into 24 slices, that represents the 24 hours of your average weekday. So, if you sleep eight hours at night, that's a third of your pie. If you work eight hours a day, that's another third, 12 hours a day is half your pie. And then figure out what are all the other slices of your pie, which would include commuting, child care, exercise, phone calls, TV, errands, meals, cooking, eating, cleaning up, etc. See, after you've done the time pie, if there's any way you can rearrange your day to give YOU more time.

Moderator: What the did the women in your workshops discover?

Domar: What I uniformly hear is that they can't account for all 24 hours and they realize they spend a lot of time doing things (like watching TV or long phone conversations) that aren't as nurturing as other things they could be doing.

Moderator: Doesn't it shake up the people in your life when you start to make these changes?

Domar: Well, we suggest that you tackle one area of your life every six weeks so it doesn't shake anybody up. The book is divided into the different areas of your life. You should start with the area you want most to change, whether it's your job, your body, your spirituality, your relationship with friends/siblings, creativity or leisure time, etc. Start nurturing one area of your life every six weeks or so, it won't feel shocking to you or anyone else.

Moderator: I feel so guilty when I say no to my kids. I feel that's the one area where I should never say no.

Domar: First of all, no mother should say 'yes' to her kids all the time. It's not good for the kids. And keep in mind that you can self-nurture with your kids! I dance with my daughter, bake cookies with her, go for walks with her ... these things nurture us both. But, you will be a better mother and a MUCH better role model if you take care of yourself, too.

Moderator: But it seems as if there's nothing in society that supports that.

Domar: Well, I think we have to look at men as role models. Men are much better able than we are to care for themselves. They're much better able to sit down in front of the TV and watch football for three hours and not feel guilty about it! And instead of resenting them for it, we need to model ourselves after them! If he watches sports every Sunday for three hours, then you get to do what you want to do every Saturday for three hours.

Moderator: Why do you concentrate on women when it seems obvious that life is overwhelming for everyone in our society?

Domar: I'm not focusing on women to be sexist. I happen to be married to a man, so I see that men, indeed, have stress in their lives. But, I focus on women for two reasons. One, because several research studies have shown that women report more day-to-day stress than men do. And because I think that women have such a struggle caring for themselves that they need more attention right now.

Moderator: In your book you talk about couples who were able to conceive after trying some of these techniques. Is the data supported or do people feel it's just a coincidence?

Domar: No, I actually published a study this month in 'Fertility and Sterility' that showed that women who went through a Mind/Body group or a Support Group drastically increased their pregnancy rates versus women who just received medical care. I believe that women who are infertile should be in a support group. At the very least, they'll feel better.

Moderator: Why doesn't everyone do this who's going through this problem?

Moderator: Have you been criticized for giving false hope?

Domar: Thousands of times. I'm always criticized for perpetuating a myth, "just relax and you'll get pregnant." And the fact is is that there's increasing evidence that depression may hamper fertility. And the patients who go through my program work their butts off. It's not just relaxation. They incorporate a lot of mind/body skills into their lives. They change their eating habits and what they're doing is decreasing their depression levels. If depression decreases fertility, then when the depression lifts, you'd expect to see more fertility, and that's indeed what happens.