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#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 3: Self-Care for Moms Shouldn’t Be Optional

#AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal | Ep. 3: Self-Care for Moms Shouldn’t Be Optional

Watch episode 3 in our special #AskTheExpert series for International Women’s Day 2022, tackling mental health issues that continue to plague women today. Our expert is none other than psychiatrist Dr. Joan Mae Perez-Rifareal.

[What follows is the complete episode transcript]

Kai Magsanoc: Hello. Welcome po sa third episode dito po sa series ng #AskTheExpert with Doc Joan Rifareal, our special series only for International Women’s Month. Syempre para sa mga kababaihan, and the first two episodes, sinamahan tayo ni Doc Joan para pagusapan ang PTSD, recovering from trauma. And episode two, we spoke about the effects of sexual harassment. So kung namiss niyo po iyong episodes na iyon, please make sure to look at the videos tab at our Facebook Page, so you can watch our previous episodes in this series na talaga namang makatutulong sa inyo. So Doc Joan, this time around, ang kakausapin naman natin ay moms like us.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Wow, yes. Hello mga moms! Yes, thank you Kai for having me once again, for episode 3.

Kai Magsanoc: Thanks, Doc. Episode 3 syempre, ito iyong parang meat and potatoes ‘no, syempre ‘di lang babae, nanay pa ,’no doc. Sa atin kasi parang culturally, kapag sinabi nating self-care, I;m not sure about you ha, but ako, para bang paginuna mo iyong sarili mo at babae ka, parang they frown upon it. Parang culturally, we were raised to have that sense of servitude, and putting ourselves last. But our statement here is that slef-care, especially for moms, shouldn’t be optional. Why do you think that should be the case, Doc Joan? Why is self-care important?

It’s really very important for all the moms to take good care of themselves first. Bakit? Please remember that as moms, we cannot pour from an empty cup.

Dr. Joan Rifareal

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh yeah, that’s a very good question. It’s really very important for all the moms to take good care of themselves first. Bakit? Please remember that as moms, we cannot pour from an empty cup. Kung i-vivisualize natin, may kape tayo, may cup tayo pero kung hindi siya puno, walang laman, then we cannot give what we do not have. So, mas maganda po na alagaan muna — let’s take good care of ourselves first as moms, as ladies, kung ano man ang ating mga roles ginagampanan ngayon, as titas, lolas para for us to be able to share ourselves later on and take care of those under our care — our kids, family members, friends, and colleagues. Always ang nireremind ko sa lahat, with that cup ngayon, we cannot pour from an empty cup kaya kailangan alagaan natin ang sarili. Mas maganda na fill our cups until they run it over, para iyong nagspispill na siya, sumosobra na siya sa cup, then i-sshare na natin iyon. We can share ourselves to our family, loved ones, colleagues, to everyone who would need our help.

Kai Magsanoc: Okay, so ang naalala ko kanina Doc Joan while you were answering, diba iyong sinasabi na happy wife, happy life. Laging sinasabi ng mga ano, pero iniisip ko, kung siguro kung happy woman, mayroon din siyang ano to family, happy mom din siya, magiging happy partner din siya, magiging happy officemate rin siya, tama ba?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, tama. Of course, it will extend kung ano iyong emotions and feelings, of course, it will really start within us. Kasi nga, iyon pa lang, doon siya magmamatter always paglowbatt tayo, when we feel iritable kasi kulang pala tayo sa tulog, or feeling natin na nauubos na tayo, nalolowbatt na, nawawalan na tayo ng energy, then definitely, it also affects our functionalities sa ating roles as moms, sa ating role sa trabaho, sa ating role sa ating mga opisina, or sa ating roles sa ating mga friends, so talagang mayroon siyang impact. So, it will always have that ripple effect kung talagang sa atin pa lang kulang, and we are not able to fill that — that happiness within us.

Kai Magsanoc: So, what happens Doc Joan when self-care is not being practiced or even prioritized? How does that manifest iyong mga simple acts of self-care, how do they manifest in our physical health or something? Parang do they have these kinds of manifestations?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, oo. When we say health kasi Kai, it’s always an interplay ng physical, mental, emotional health and well-being. So kung wala iyong self-care natin, it can manifest in mga symptoms, it can manifest through our physical health. For example, kung wala ang self-care, hindi tayo nakapagrelax, recharge, wala, kulang tayo sa tulog, then it can affect our physical health like it may push our stress hormones, stress hormone levels. It may push them to levels na talagang beyond the norm. It can have an impact sa ating blood pressure, sa ating blood sugar, it can affect ‘yung mga other hormones sa ating katawan. Another naman is mentally or emotionally, kapag walang self-care, pwedeng iritable tayo ‘pag kulang sa tulog, paggising sa umaga parang we feel cognitively, nalilito tayo, we feel confused, not focused.

Our attention span is short, we get to be very irritable and irritated sa ating mga kasama sa trabaho o sa bahay. And socially, pwede also kung kulang tayo sa self-care parang ang manifestation niya ay there is this tendency to just isolate ourselves, parang nawawalan tayo ng gana to mingle, to foster iyong relationships with our family members and loved ones. Of course, mayroon talaga siyang impact, and, again, it’s always an interplay of all of these mga elements of health — physical, mental, emotional, social health and well-being.

Kai Magsanoc: Yeah. Thank you, Doc Joan. We work with a lot of women, and in the case of the women I work with, I always hear na, diba kunwari during the day, middle of the work week, and then you tell them, pahinga ka muna. ‘Di bale sa Friday pupunta naman ako sa spa, ‘di bale sa weekend pupunta naman ako.’ Is that enough, Doc Joan? Parang weekend warriors for self-care doesn’t have to wait until the end of the week, is that enough? Or, should we do it every day?

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh, the best advice for this Kai, of course, it’s a case-to-case basis kasi mayroon naman talagang mga other ladies na talagang for them, pwede na iyong once a week na treat for themselves. But, what I always suggest din or remind everyone na mas maganda is that every day mayroong mga, we have ‘yung mga specific na kahit na a few minutes of protected time for ourselves. Pwede naman kasi na we are not aware of, but we are practicing self-care already during those short breaks natin and short protected times. Hindi lang siguro as bongga as halimbawa as a weekend na spa, but again, iyong mga protected time na iyon, like for example, lunch breaks, oh, self-care na rin iyon. When you take naps after iyong lunch natin. Take naps kasi we know na part ng self-care is to maintain that we are alert, awake, and enthusastic after a nap, so that’s part of self-care, or ‘yung night;y skincare routine natin, so self-care pa rin iyon. Iyong mag-aano tayo warm bath, go to bed at night.

So, siguro hindi lang siya agad narerecognize na self-care because we do it routinely, but they can still be considered as forms of taking good care of ourselves. Iyong mga short and protected times for us, mas maganda. Studies have shown that mas maganda if we have these regular protected times for our self-care, kahit short minutes of me-time siguro after a long day of work, then have that me-time to just relax lang, maligo, warm bath or shower, no distractions, that is good already para for us to be able to recharge, feel more refreshed. So, may mga specific activities na not really as bongga, but if you look at it and we do it regularly, it can also help us recover physically, mentally, emotionally.

Kai Magsanoc: So, ang nakuha ko is kailangan may consistency din sa self-care.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Yes, mas maganda there’s a routine, we follow a routine also. Iyong routine rin kasi Kai, it gives us that sense of structure rin na parang this time of pandemic ngayon, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things beyond our control. Having that routine is one way for us to regain our sense of control kahit doon pa lang sa routine, sa structure, we have control over those. So, let us make the most out of those short breaks natin during the day, mga short me-time. Kahit iyong listening to music, podcasts, mga motivational songs, of course, those are part of self-care na rin. Waking up in the morning and feeling grateful, kasama iyon Kai kasi that one will address our need for — to address and give importance to our spiritual naman health and well-being. So, part of self-care pa rin iyon.

Kai Magsanoc: Yeah. So, medyo nasagot mo na partially iyong last question ko for this episode, Doc Joan. Pero para lang to wrap this episode with practical tips kasi ang laging iniisip nating mga babae, ba’t ko naman, ba’t pa ako magsesself-care eh kulang nga iyong budget ko sa kailangan ng pamilya ko. Iyong feeling of guilt Doc Joan ba na — ba’t ko naman ittreat sarili ko eh kulang pa nga ‘to para sa anak ko. So, to close this episode, let’s leave our viewers with these final tips. How can we practice self-care if we don’t have a lot of funds and we don’t have a lot of time.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Oh, okay. This is a very good question kasi truly understandable, especially during this time of pandemic talagang all of us, regardless of age, status in life, profession, lahat talaga tayo, we have been affected, or we are going through our own challenges during this time. And one of is iyong effects on our finances, sa ating time, especially when we also multitask. Mas maganda kung walang funds, to go out for a massage, for a salon na makeover mga ganun, be creative. Ito ang tinatawag natin and do the things in your home which will make you feel good and happy. Hindi naman kailangan expensive ito. So for example, iyong iba, sumasayaw sila, they dance to these very popular songs ngayon na pang-disco. sumasayaw- sayaw sila, or they do iyong sa mga apps ngayon like TikTok-ing, or halimbawa, nagsstretching, exercise, even hindi naman iyong gym levels kung wala tayong gym membership.

What’s important is that we do the things which make us feel good and happy to boost our levels of endorphins, happy hormones, and of course, iyong other hormones also which would boost our mood like serotonin.

Dr. Joan Rifareal

What’s important is that we do the things which make us feel good and happy to boost our levels of endorphins, happy hormones, and of course, iyong other hormones also which would boost our mood like serotonin. Ang serotonin it’s a very good hormone, it gives us a sense of happiness also, it boosts our mood. Exposure to sunlight. That would boost also our serotonin, kaya iyong iba, during this time of pandemic ano sila, gardening, so andaming benefits noon, so it doesn’t have to be expensive. Diba pupunta lang tayo sa labas, walking, gardening, attending to our plants, iyong iba naman nagddraw-draw, scribbling, journaling also kasi it’s also a way of self-care kasi it’s also a way of expressing ourselves in the same way na paranf may kausap tayo halimba, doctor or therapist, but we write it through journaling. We can be creative, do things from the comforts of our home, which can cost us nothing but the benefits are really tremendous.

Kai Magsanoc: Thank you, Doc Joan.

Doc Joan Rifareal: Thank you!

Learn more about postpartum selfcare here.

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Ovulation Calculator

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Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Apr 04
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD