Derval O'Rourke: Three easy ways to practise self care and an easy recipe for after-school soup

Self-care is anything that nurtures you, so let’s focus on your emotional self-care, which can easily fall down the ladder in terms of priority
Derval O'Rourke: Three easy ways to practise self care and an easy recipe for after-school soup

This lovely recipe is perfect for these autumnal evenings and is guaranteed to fill up the hungry tummies coming home from school

Wellbeing has become a normal talking point among friends, family and colleagues. I’m so grateful that we have realised just how important it is to look after ourselves. What’s more, it’s no longer seen as weakness or shameful for us to put our hand up and say, “I need help”, or, “I can’t do this alone”.

This week, psychotherapist Bethan O’Riordan has some great advice on how you can put your wellbeing first. I have a lovely recipe that is perfect for these autumnal evenings and is guaranteed to fill up the hungry tummies coming home from school.

All parents know that being calm with kids is the ‘right’ thing to do, but it can be so hard! We know that when a parent is calm, the kids are calmer, the house is more peaceful, things just flow that bit better, and this happens when parents continue to fine-tune their wellbeing and self-care skills.

Self-care is anything that nurtures you, so let’s focus on your emotional self-care, which can easily fall down the ladder in terms of priority.

Emotional self-care happens when we create an inner voice which is on your side, like an inner ally who always has your best interests at heart. This compassionate part of ourselves understands why we find things hard but most importantly is committed to helping us through kindness with what we find hard. We are up against it as our brains are wired to think about the worst-case scenario and are easily vulnerable to stress, anxiety and guilty feelings but there is hope.

Creating your compassionate voice begins with understanding what it is that you’re struggling with, then creating practical action to support yourself. Let’s go through three simple steps to help you create your inner ally who will help to guide your internal parenting compass so that you’re the parent and person you’d like to be.

 Bethan O’Riordan
Bethan O’Riordan

1. Work out your triggers

We all have people or parts of the day that drive us bananas and often leave us exhausted. Sometimes in parenting this is our unmet childhood needs coming to the surface and sometimes being triggered happens because we are tired and overwhelmed. Be curious about which parts of the day are hardest for you and be realistic about what you can do to make things easier. A good way to start is to ask yourself what advice you’d give to a friend in the same situation. It’s much easier to offer kindness to others than it is to receive it, so putting others in your shoes is a great way to give yourself solid advice without it being tinged with guilt or criticism.

2. Know when to walk away and learn not to punish yourself

Walking away is probably the most profound and simple skill any parent has. This gives you time to gather yourself and not go down that rabbit hole of beating yourself up when you become the parent you didn’t mean to be. Every parent I’ve met (myself included) has said or done things they later regret. I know it may sound easier said than done but it’s crucial for your wellbeing that you learn the skills of being kind towards yourself. We want children to not beat themselves up when they make mistakes, and they will learn this if parents can mirror this to them.

3. Realistic self-care

We all have an internal reservoir that gets depleted throughout the day, and you need to keep topping it up so that you’re not running on empty. Emotional self-care means taking regular moments throughout the day to slow down your body and mind. I know time is of the essence in parenting and a powerful way to offer your body and mind the opportunity to slow down is to integrate regular breaks to stop throughout the day. It might seem hard to do this, but it is possible to carve out time in your day and even if these moments are tiny, they will help nurture you so that you’re at your best to yourself and those around you.

Wellness Tip: Carve out some time for you this week. Even if it’s for ten minutes in the car in between dropping one of the kids off for practice and before making dinner. Take ten minutes and just be. No scrolling on the phone, making lists, returning calls; just quiet the mind and the only thing I want you to focus on is your breathing. Each time your mind wanders, count your breaths instead.

Exercise Tip: Squats - With the change in the weather we need some indoor options! Feet shoulder width apart, back straight, start to squat as if you are going to sit down. Hold for a second and back up nice and slow. Do this 10 times, for three reps. Remember your breathing!

Chunky Chicken Soup

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

This lovely recipe is perfect for these autumnal evenings and is guaranteed to fill up the hungry tummies coming home from school

Chunky Chicken Soup

Servings

4

Preparation Time

5 mins

Cooking Time

40 mins

Total Time

45 mins

Course

Starter

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 celery sticks, cut into small pieces

  • 2 carrots cut into small pieces

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 3 free-range chicken fillets, diced

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced

  • Half butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

  • 1 litre chicken stock, good quality stock

  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

  2. Add the celery, carrots, herbs and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes.

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper as you cook. Add the chicken, potatoes, butternut squash and stock.

  4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

  5. Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into warm serving bowls.

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