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. 

Self-Care for Professors with Dr. Amanda Grieme Bradley | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | Jessica McCoy Counseling

The Nashville Self-Care Series hopes to demystify how we see self-care. Often times, self-care can look expensive or impossible because we are all busy people with a budget. In this self-care dialogue, we see that self-care can be as simple as taking a break for lunch, reading a good book, or playing with your baby. 

Dr. Amanda Grieme Bradley was one of my favorite professors in graduate school. Her passion for the field and joy-filled engagement with students was a highlight of my program. I am excited to share her experience as a mother, wife, professor, and therapist while incorporating self-care. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?
A typical work day for me includes teaching/lecturing, meeting with students, meeting with faculty, and spending time in my office grading, working on lectures, or creating assignments. I really appreciate the different aspects of my role as a professor, as it offers me both relational opportunities as well as learning/studying opportunities. 

I also have a therapy practice so some days I teach and then spend the rest of the time in session. I usually do that once a week.  Prior to starting my day, it’s a bit crazy in my house! My husband and I have a 15-month old boy, so while we are getting ready for the day we are also tending to his lovely curiosity!

Self-care has historically been difficult for me. I am driven by efficiency, tasks, and production, so self-care has not always seemed important, relevant, or productive. However, I have learned that if I don’t take care.png

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you?
Daily: One of the biggest self-care practices for me is that I always break for lunch. I give myself an hour between class or meetings to go to the cafeteria on campus and either eat with colleagues, students, or sometimes I just read alone. I have to work hard to implement this since my schedule can be fairly demanding. I’ve found that taking a break is not only good for my body but also good for me to slow down and take time for myself in the middle of the day. Another practice I have is to leave work by 4:30 or 4:45. I do pick up from daycare, so it is ideal if I can get out by 4:30. This has been one of my biggest adjustments to my workday… before I was a mommy, I would work late often. Now, I leave on time so I can have time with my little guy!

Another, more simple daily practice for me is reading fiction. I’ve always been an avid reader… my mom and I used to spend evenings and weekends reading together on the couch or porch swing. Taking this time to slow down and get caught up in a good story is nurturing to me.

Weekly: The weekends are family time for me. My husband and I work long days so I often feel like I don’t get enough time with my son during the week. Saturday mornings we go to a toddler music class, which is joyful and chaotic and really the cutest thing (shout out to Kym Johnson at Music City Music Together!). Spending time with my husband and son, establishing our family values, laughing and dancing, are the best part of my week. For a while, we weren’t going to church and we have recently started attending church again. This practice, this weekly ritual, is quite grounding for me. I love liturgy, I love old hymns, and I love the reverence a church service can foster.

Seasonal: I started going to monthly spiritual direction (Mallory Wyckoff is a gift!). This is a time for me to drop down, reflect on my journey with God, and identify how God is showing up in my daily life. It also slows me down … I tend to ‘go’ quickly all day long, so spiritual direction helps me slow down, reflect, and just be.

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
The better I take care of myself, the more intentional I am about my day. Something I’m aware of right now is that I tend to function like a ‘human doing’ rather than a ‘human being’. Self-care reminds me that I am a human, not a robot. When I slow down, I am more present in my relationships and in my work. My friends teach me a lot about self-care, too, so I think this can be contagious. As I see them take time, I am reminded to do the same.

What are some obstacles in this season of life that make self-care a challenge?
Self-care has historically been difficult for me. I am driven by efficiency, tasks, and production, so self-care has not always seemed important, relevant, or productive. However, I have learned that if I don’t take care of myself, I will get depleted, have health issues, and just get lost. Also, it’s hard to serve others when you are not taking care of yourself. The two main obstacles to self-care right now are being a mom and being busy. Learning balance as a mother has been a challenge for me … I am often exhausted at the end of the day, so it’s hard to prioritize journaling or spiritual reading when I am just done with the day. Since I work two jobs (therapist and professor), my days are often slammed and busy. I am the one that schedules those days, so my continual lesson is to slow down and use more intentionality with my schedule.

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018?
For Lent, I am taking a break from all social media. This is definitely a form of self-care for me. It’s easy to see the lives of other people on social media and believe that people always are living perfectly, happily, etc. Seeing beautiful pictures is not always beneficial for my heart. My toddler is not always smiling, I am not always looking cute, and my husband and I barely get to go on dates … and Instagram would indicate that everyone is experiencing the opposite for me. Already, I’m noticing how much better I feel since taking this fast.

My friends teach me a lot about self-care, too, so I think this can be contagious. As I see them take time, I am reminded to do the same. | Nashville Self-Care Series

How does the field of academia practice or promote self-care?
Academia prioritizes production in terms of research, better classroom instruction, more participation in meetings, etc. I have not noticed self-care modeled in academia, which is a hard reality. We all walk around, frazzled, from one thing to the next. Many of us show up early and work late. Many women in academia struggle with imposter syndrome, which I believe drives us to work even harder and make more personal sacrifices. I would love to try to be a change in this cultural value.

How would your industry/field look different if self-care was a core value?
This is a theme for me, but I think we would all slow down. I think we would meet less and connect more. We would model for each other and our students how to honor ourselves. There is a way to be successful while also taking good care of yourself.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you?
I just started Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz. It fits well with my journey of slowing down. I’ve also been using a prayer book published by the Irish Jesuits entitled Sacred Space. I’ve been listening to a lot to the beautiful trio Joseph; their harmonies are gorgeous and let me pretend like I know how to sing!

Amanda Grieme Bradley, Ph.D., LMFT, is a full-time associate professor of undergraduate psychology at Trevecca Nazarene University. She is also department chair of the social & behavior sciences department. In addition to her work with at Trevecca, she maintains a private therapy practice. Amanda grew up in Central Illinois but has called Nashville home since 2002. Amanda is married to her husband CJ, and they have a 15-month old son named Monroe.

Thanks again to Dr. Amanda Grieme Bradley for participating in the Nashville Self-Care Series. If you are looking to add counseling to your self-care plan, contact Jessica at 615-979-4168 or by filling out this form

Self-Care for the Theological Community | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | women's counseling

The Nashville Self-Care Series hopes to inspire women to be open to holistic ways of caring for themselves. Each of these self-care dialogues is with incredible women who may represent one career path but are a combination of employee, sister, mother, friend, and partner. When I was working with Mallory on this piece, I asked her "what should I call you because you do so many things?" And I believe that question connects with a lot of women who wear many "hats" professionally and personally. Dr. Mallory Wyckoff is a Spiritual Director, professor, writer and mother.  I am excited to share Mallory's wisdom on both her personal self-care practices and her spiritual reflections on self-care. 

self-care and spirituality with Dr. Mallory Wyckoff | the nashville self-care series

What does a typical workday look like for you?
Having a 16-month-old and doing a significant portion of my work from home means that my days are seldom as structured as I’d like them to be, and each day varies. This has been a really difficult adjustment, so I’m continually trying to find and establish rhythms of rest and productivity that work well for me and for my family.

What are some daily, weekly, or annual/seasonal self-care practices that are beneficial to you?
One of the most important self-care practices I’m committed to is caring for my physical body, through exercise 4x a week and eating food that brings my body (and the planet) life. This practice just seems to set the tone for all the others, as it reminds me of so much: that my body is good and sacred; that I cannot live in my head but am an embodied human being; that the decisions I make towards health allow not only me but the creation around me to flourish; etc. Beyond this, my given season in life as a work-from-and-stay-at-home mom makes routine self-care practices difficult. Some days I mourn this, but most days I try to be open to any simple practice that allows me to be kind to myself and to live fully and presently. This might mean spending a few minutes in quiet meditation while I stretch after a workout, or it might mean lighting a candle from Anthropologie that smells impossibly good, or it might mean buying the freshest ingredients I can find and making a good meal for my family, or it might mean playing calming music that helps me breathe deeply and resist the urge towards anxiety.

After having my daughter I realized early on that it would be impossible to have a perfect schedule (because babies change every week and as soon as you set a schedule they manage to disrupt it), but I felt confident we could find a rhythm, a general orienting flow to the day. This is also true of my self-care practices. It is difficult (impossible perhaps?) to have a set of practices that are static and certain right now because one blowout diaper can quickly disrupt every best-laid plan. But what I can do is operate from a deeply rooted theology of human dignity, knowing that my entire person—body, mind, spirit—matters, that I am worthy of receiving kindness—even and especially kindness that I extend to myself—and that being a grateful recipient of kind acts opens me up to offer them to others in my work and service in the world. Starting from this point helps me aware to wherever, whenever, and however I am being extended that sort of kindness, that opportunity to be fully present in a moment and see the enormous sacredness of the whole thing.

Self-care speaks to and from my truest self, reminding me that I can rest, and I can receive good gifts, and I can be cared for, and I can be loved—independent of what or how much I can produce and accomplish. This is a liberating message. - dr. mallory wyckoff

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
I am, in some ways, a machine. I have an absurd capability to produce, to perform, to achieve, and to do it all as efficiently as possible. It is the mechanism I’ve developed to interface with the world and to survive, and in some ways it has served me well. But in other ways, I spin my wheels so hard and fast that I’m hundreds of miles down the road before realizing that I’m out of steam and breaking down. Self-care practices speak truth to me about my truest self, that beyond all that I can accomplish or achieve or produce—even and especially the “good” things—who I truly am is a child of God, and a human being made in God’s image. I do not need to push myself to the furthest limits of my abilities. I do not need to be efficient in all things. I do not have to serve everyone in every way possible. These are all parts of my false self, rearing its rather ugly head. Self-care speaks to and from my truest self, reminding me that I can rest, and I can receive good gifts, and I can be cared for, and I can be loved—independent of what or how much I can produce and accomplish. This is a liberating message. And when I choose to hear and imbibe that message, I also stop demanding that others produce and accomplish and keep my same frenzied pace. I instead allow them to be beloved image bearers of God, worthy of being seen and cared for and loved.

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018? Why?
I want to be more connected to other humans. I am a task-oriented person, and if I’m honest with myself, I sometimes see people as obstacles to my accomplishing those tasks. But when a friend invites me to have tea or to go out for drinks, I want to say yes and to say it fully and not see it as keeping me from my very real and demanding stack of to-do items. I want to initiate this more, and to receive others’ invitations with gratitude.

How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
My training and work are in the field of theology, and in many ways the Western church has adopted really bad theology about the body, speaking of it solely or mostly in pejorative terms and relegating it to a status inferior to things of the spirit. But true, good, biblical theology honors the body, honors creation, and holds all these as sacred. So, when we are at our best, we theologians not only speak of the sacredness of all of creation but we live from and into that reality in the ways we care for ourselves, for others, and for all of creation. When we are at our worst, we speak and live in ways that drive further the perceived disconnect between sacred and secular, body and spirit. Sometimes, good self-care can be part of what helps us navigate how to hold together those pieces that never were meant to be separated.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you?

Here are things that are currently bringing me life, all for various reasons which share one common thing: they orient me to the present and help me live more fully as a human being. 

Mallory Wyckoff (DMin, MTS) lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Olive, in Nashville, TN, despite her sincere dislike of country music and Southern food. Mallory is a spiritual director and seeks to create safe spaces wherein people can explore more fully the mystery of the Divine and who they are as image-bearers of God. She also teaches in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University, and works in the DMin department supporting students in their doctoral research.

If you are looking to add counseling into your routine and rhythm, then contact Jessica at 615-979-4168 or by filling out this form. If you want more information on self-care check out these resources.