This Valentine’s Day, Let’s Talk About Self-Love

By Dr. Asal Azizi, Licensed Psychologist February 14, 2018

It’s February…. the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air! Throughout this month (and especially as mom’s, throughout the year) we make sure to give sweet gifts and express our love to our family and friends in many generous ways. However, the best gift we can give our loved ones, as well as to ourselves, is the gift of self-love. As loving parents, we often forget to stop and take care of our own overall health, which very importantly includes our mental health. So why not take a few moments to consider how you may want to, or need to, take care of yourself emotionally and mentally. Ask yourself, how are you feeling? Are you coping well with the constant demands of being a parent, whether stay-at-home, or balancing a career and household? As a newer, first-time mom with a professional career, I too know that there is hardly much time left over for taking care of ourselves!

Many parents often feel overwhelmed physically, emotionally, and mentally. They may feel like they are not managing the endless responsibilities of parenting very well, which may result in psychosocial difficulties affecting their mood, sleep and interactions with loved ones. Parents often do not talk about this with other parents out of fear of being judged or perceived as “bad parents”. They may be thinking to themselves, “I’m the parent…I’m supposed to have my stuff together!”. They may also believe that as parents we must always be strong. The truth is, most of us do not always have our stuff together and we do not always feel that strong. Additionally, we may buy into the false stigma that as parents we are not the ones that need help, because we are supposed to be the ones helping our children. 

As a psychologist I often hear a variety of jokes or comments regarding my field of work when others discover what I do for a living. There is misguided humor about "those crazy people", awkward moments when someone tells me they once saw a “shrink", but "it didn't work", or remarks about how difficult it must be to listen to sad stories all day. In response to these stigmas, I would like to help clarify a few things.

First, those "crazy people" are not in fact crazy, just regular folks like you and I who have experienced emotional distress and challenging hardships in their lives. Second, trying therapy one time with only one therapist is like going on a test drive, not liking how the car feels, and vowing to never buy a car again. Lastly, witnessing clients gain necessary insights to overcome behavioral or emotional setbacks, resulting in healthier and happier lives, always trumps the perceived difficulty of listening to the experiences of emotional pain.

It always fascinates me that as a society we are quick to go the medical doctor to cure our physical ailments, but we tend to have strong reservations about seeking support or treatment for our emotional health. The stigmas I mentioned above, and many more, often prevent people from getting the help they need. Then you add parenthood into the mix, and it’s easy to see why the mental health of first-time, sleep-deprived, exhausted, and overwhelmed parents are often neglected. 

Reducing the many stigmas of mental health services is necessary to help individuals receive the benefits of therapy. Psychotherapy, provided by licensed mental health professionals, offers everyday people, like you, the opportunity to identify and process the thoughts and feelings related to your life stressors and difficult circumstances. A knowledgeable and professional therapist can allow you to feel safe in a confidential setting, validate you through empathetic support, and empower you through the non-judgmental feedback they provide. It is also essential to reduce the unhelpful stigmas that we as individual’s and as a society have about parenting. Perhaps this would help reduce self-judgment and allow parents who are struggling to admit that they are and that they need support!

Many of us experience everyday situations in life that lead to troubling emotions or behaviors. Supportive mental health services, such as therapy can provide the opportunity to work through these difficulties and reach the happy, healthy lives we all wish to live. Parents are especially vulnerable to stress and would greatly benefit from such support. After all, a little bit of much-needed “me time” is the ultimate practice of self-love and self-care. However, if we give in to the negative portrayal or stigma of emotional difficulties and mental health services, we deprive ourselves this great opportunity. In other words, let’s talk about it!

Dr. Asal Azizi, Licensed Psychologist
Phone: (858) 215-4578