Self-Care for Students with Drea Pryor | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | jessica mccoy counseling

The Nashville Self-Care Series hopes to give you some insight on how different women balance life, work, and relationships while trying to take care of themselves. Everyone does it differently because what works for you may not work for your friends. 

Drea Pryor, like many of the women in the self-care series, wears multiple "hats." She is a therapist, mom, Ph.D. student, and friend. Her self-care dialogue brings a lot of truth about self-care as well as sharing that she too is still trying to navigate self-care and writing a dissertation. So much of self-care is trial and error of what works and what doesn't. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?
So I get to the office super early. Not because I’m an overachiever or anything, mostly because I drop my kiddo off at school and head STRAIGHT into the office. I know if I go home there will be a small chance I’d come back. Also, there is something about sitting in the silence of the day that settles me in the place of humility. Kind of like my come to Jesus time. Once I am in the office, I typically start with breakfast. I am the epitome of the Snickers commercial that says “You’re just not you when you are hungry.” So I’ll have breakfast in a cup which is typically a green smoothie.
I like my client load to be around 4-5 clients per day. I try not to schedule more than 3 clients in a row because I find that I am just not a present if I go further. It’s like I’m sitting with you but I don’t hear you. So to my advantage as well as my client I like to break up my schedule a bit.
Due to the location of my office, get a ton of social time. Working with people that are “my people” is so comforting to me. Not only do I get to share in your life’s events and stories but if ever there is a day that I need connection or comfort, I know a close person is near. Oh and those days come often.

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you? 
Daily: After a long day of “leaning in” presenting myself as an attachment figure and a secure base for my clients, I really like to “lean out” when I get home. I joke about it with family and friends but sometimes it’s helpful not to read anything to heavy, or watch any deep shows. I like to find a good series that has just the right amount of funny and depth that I can become involved in the character’s lives without being committed. Something about binge-watching just makes life fun. I don’t know if it’s a millennial thing or what. But knowing I can go home, snuggle on the couch and “lean out” for a while is rewarding. I also am trying to read more. I like to get into the Fictional stuff but as a therapist, it’s hard not to read things that I think will help me become a better clinician or help me understand my clients in some way. Another daily practice is intentionally washing my hands up to my elbows. A former supervisor of mine gave me this suggestion. She told me that after a long hard day of dealing with families who have been impacted by their loved one’s disease of addiction, she would intentionally wash her hands up to her elbows. Something about it helped her to disconnect and “wash the day away.”

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Weekly: We have a therapy dog in training. His name is Doc and he is the sweetest pet. His loyalty is 100% with his owner, but when she is not in earshot, I’d like to think he follows me wherever I go. I can’t say that I’ve ever had the opportunity to own a dog myself so the love of a pet is kind of new to me. He is the perfect napping companion. Super sweet and very forgiving!

Annual practices: I will go and sleep over at my friend’s house during the break. Even though she is a year younger than me, her house has really become like a Big Momma’s House. The kind of house everyone spends time at over the summers has Sunday dinners or just random holidays or birthday parties. It’s truly like everyone’s home.

Annual/Daily/whenever he lets me: I try to snuggle with my kiddo. Even if he’s watching Netflix, or if he is reading a story. I ask for snuggle time on the couch. Which typically consists of me sleeping under my favorite blanket and him sitting on top of my legs. Even though he is 8.5 and almost 4.5 feet tall, I promise he is never big enough for me to want snuggle time with him.

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
I am BIG on metaphors. One of the very first times I flew with my child, the flight attendant told me that in the event of an emergency, I was to put my mask on first and then assist my child. Initially, after hearing this I was in complete shock. I thought to myself “Who hires these people?! How could they utter such a thing?” But then the flight attendant went on to explain that if something were to happen to me, there would be no one available to assist my son. So when I think of self-care, I think of putting my mask on first. Helping myself so that I can help others. I am sure we have all heard the phrase “You can’t pour from an empty cup? Well, a colleague shared another phrase comes which was “you cannot sip from an empty cup”. Often times we talk about pouring from an empty cup, but that would imply that I am giving out to others, which I gladly do, but when I go to drink, I have nothing to restore myself. My self-care practices have been re-invented if you will. Initially thought I had to have a ton of money to take a vacation, or have weekly pedicures and then I looked at my bank account and thought again. But as I understood more, I learned that it isn’t about spending money as it is about spending intentional time! So, self-care looks like me taking a nap, or me not taking a phone call while I am trying to accomplish smaller tasks. 

What are some obstacles in this season of life that make self-care a challenge?
Ugh! I am a 2 on the Enneagram. Also known as the Helper. It is SUPER hard for me to know what I need. Typically, when I do, it’s because I’ve gotten to the end of my rope and I am just plain exhausted. In addition, working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. There is a fine balance between pushing through until I am done and knowing when enough is enough. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across a book or an article that tells me how to do either so I am working on it.

It is all about getting up and moving this year, not becoming the next Ninja Warrior! Drea Pryor | nashville self-care series

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018?
Oh yes! Walking more! My friends and I all have fit-bits and we have weekly challenges. I haven’t won many but I am encouraged to keep going and keep trying. It is all about getting up and moving this year, not becoming the next Ninja Warrior!

How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
I think we are very careful about caring for one another but also teaching one another to learn to care for ourselves. Sometimes in this field, we think we’ve got to work hard, show up when we don’t feel like it and work until after we are tired. I don’t think that’s the way to live. I don’t think we can teach our clients about good boundaries and self-care if we are not learning it ourselves.

How would your industry/field look different if self-care was a core value?
OH man! We would have a float tank in every office! Or we would really begin to implement self-care as part of our job description. One of the things we learn in grad school is about self-care and we are provided with a brief overview of what it looks like. But in my opinion, you don’t know you need self-care until you need it. You don’t know that you are on the edge of a burn out unless you’ve been burnt out before. Maybe we can be more preventative in the way we talk about self-care but I think the example would start with us.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you? 
I am reading A Man Called Ove.  It has been a long time since I’ve read a fictional book because I am always reading for class or for my clients. But this one is intriguing because I feel Ove has a very peculiar way of life and I like the idea of following him through it.
Books: The Shack! See the movie, and read the book. What a book about one man’s journey to self, the world and God. It is so moving yet humbling. It makes spirituality tangible.
Attachment-Focused EMDR by Laurel Parnell. Everyone who knows me knows that this is like my therapy BIBLE. I really like the way that Parnell approaches EMDR through an attachment lens. I keep one in every office I am in.
Song: Weightless by Marconi Union. That song is so good I downloaded it on iTunes just to play for myself.
Deep Focus station on Spotify. I am getting into more of the meditative music that allows me to slow down and reconnect with myself.
Ledisi: Bravo! I play this song after each and every hard trial. She speaks of giving yourself encouragement for making it through the challenge. Bravo!
Musiq Soulchild: Seriously, something about his music gets me motivated to write and get work done.
Movies: Moana! I can sing that all day long. I can watch it all day long as well. It reminds me so much of the culture I was raised back home in San Francisco. It also speaks to bravery beyond measure.
Black Panther: This movie just came out but it gives me so much life. I don’t typically follow the Marvel stories in order but I am a fan of the work that they do to produce such films. I recently saw the movie and kept calling it Wakanda! It was such a wonderful film full of culture and color. I left inspired.
Coco! Can you see that I am on a trend with culture here? I really was moved by Coco
especially after the passing of my brother and father in less than a year. For me, this
movie was a way for my brother to reach out and let me know that he is always with me
and that he will never leave my side. I just have to do my part in remembering him and sharing his legacy with others. 

Drea Pryor's story: I am at Trevecca pursuing my Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling Teaching and Supervision. It is my desire to one day teach outside the walls of a classroom. I hope to bring healing to a broader level. I am trained in EFT and Attachment-Focused EMDR. I often integrate the two in my work with individuals and couples. I have a part-time private practice where I help clients heal their relational trauma wounds. I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA and moved to Tennessee to attend Fisk Universtiy. I really love chocolate cake. It's a strange thing, but I seriously love it. Even though I am an EXTREME extrovert, I really enjoy my quiet time to "sit and look". I don't get to do it as often as I like but when I can, I try to cherish it. I've got an 8.5-year-old son who thinks he's a 7 on the Enneagram because "he's a charmer" and since he has lived his entire life with me in school I've promised him a trip to Disney Land & Sea a graduation gift from me to him. I can say he is truly a charmer but he is really the greatest gift I could have ever received.

Thanks again to Drea for sharing her experiences on self-care. If you are looking to add counseling into your self-care routine or are wondering if counseling would be beneficial, contact Jessica by filling out this form.