The Best Advice I Got In Therapy

I don’t want to brag, but I’m a CHAMPION WORRIER.

My super power is combining two awesome thinking errors into one glorious anxiety-inducing situation: catastrophizing and fortune-telling.

Catastrophizing: thinking things are worse than they are.
Fortune Telling: predicting doom and gloom.

The Best Advice I Got In Therapy

How do I know this about myself?

Once, when I was very new to therapy, I sat in a therapy group where the counselor talked to us about “thinking errors.” One such thinking error is “fortune telling” — basically predicting doom and gloom when you have no reason to dwell on such bad things occurring.

As he described the uselessness of fortune telling—funneling all of your energy and thoughts into planning, in great detail, just how tremendously badly things could go and letting those thoughts brew anxiety and sadness inside your mind and body—I scowled and folded my arms.

The counselor picked up on that and asked what I was thinking…

“But I’m a mother. I have a responsibility to my children to consider what could happen in the future and how it could impact them. So I can protect them.”

I figured this would stump him.

Because how on Earth do you argue with that? I’m pretty sure the official job description for “Mom” is fortune telling and catastrophizing.

His wise and helpful response was this:

“You’re right, you do have a responsibility to have a plan. Think of it like this; you sit down with your family and discuss what you will do in case of a fire. You decide to meet across the street by the tree. Now you have a plan in case of a fire. But you shouldn’t lay in bed awake every night waiting for your house to burn down. Make a plan and move on.

BOOM.

I think of that advice all the time. Really. ALL THE TIME.

Because even with the help of therapy, and a stack of really fantastic (heavily highlighted) books, I still worry. A lot.

But now, I know how to either identify my worrying as useless busy work (which is just a distraction from seeking gratitude and joy), or to funnel it into some productive problem solving. Either way, I’m able to move on.

MAKE A PLAN AND LET IT GO.

But maybe that feels like tempting fate? If I actually allow myself to truly walk through what I would do if the big scary thing happens, maybe the universe will take it as a sign to make that bad thing happen?!

Like, the Universe, or your higher power of choice is going bring you up in the Monday morning meeting:

“Well it looks like Erin has mapped out her own personal worst case scenario. Let’s go ahead and make that happen for her. I mean, she’s put in so much work. It would be a shame to waste it.”

THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Worrying aimlessly is useless. If you’re going to worry, make it count. Worry with a purpose! Set a timer for 15 minutes. Worry, formulate your plan, and tuck it away in case you ever need it.

I bet you’ll never need it.

And you’ll sleep better.

+++

Post Script: If you are in a situation that is hard and scary—your metaphorical house is actually burning down—please reach out and talk to your friends and family. Let the people that love you, support and help you.

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Doctors Say Cramps as Painful as a Heart Attack. Women Respond: “LOL! DUH.”

Did you know there’s a clinical term for painful menstruation? It’s called Dysmenorrhea.

Show of hands…who here has ever experienced non-painful menstruation?

Right. Because angry uteruses are not in the business of peaceful negotiation. The uterus is all about shock and awe.

Menstrual cramps happen because of contractions in the uterus, or womb, which is a muscle. If it contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels. This briefly cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen causes your pain and cramping. (Via webmd

So your uterus is basically a cranky toddler that has taken to HOLDING ITS BREATH.

Know wonder it hurts.

And now researchers are getting hip to the fact that period pain is actually agonizing.

Frank Tu, director of gynecological pain at NorthShore University HealthSystem, tells Quartz some physicians are taught that ibuprofen “should be good enough.” Clearly, this is not an adequate response to such severe pain. How severe? John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, tells Quartz that patients have described the cramping pain as “almost as bad as having a heart attack.” (Via Quartz)

Admittedly, I’m a bit surprised by this statement.

Because:

  1. I’ve never had a heart attack, so I can’t accurately compare the two.
  2. Culturally, we like to act like period pain is no big deal. Or that women are being weak and overdramatic.

Right. So I’m supposed to cruise through a few days with consistent, heart-attack-like pain, and we’re gonna just rub some ibuprofen on that?

Now, I’m not on the hunt for a big pile of pain meds to ease my menstrual cramps every month, but I’d sure love it if we (all women and all men) could get to a place where we could admit that periods are a thing, and they are legitimately painful. And that perhaps that level of ongoing pain, ON A MONTHLY GD BASIS, isn’t all in our mind or cause for eye-rolling, from anyone. 

Most women I know power through their day, marinating in the pain reliever of their own choosing, and only when all the things are done, do they crawl into bed with a heating pad across their belly.

So highest of fives to all the ladies out there today that are wracked with pain and are cruising through life like it’s no big deal. I hope there’s a brownie, some Netflix, and a heating pad in your future. 

 

 

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Stay Calm. It’s Just Lice.

The first time my kids got lice (yes, it’s happened more than once) I freaked out. Freaked out like a crazy woman who thought the world was going to end, and that the only answer was to buzz her kids’ hair off. Luckily, for my girls, I took a deep breath, did some intensive research and got the lice under control without any haircuts. After three lice outbreaks in three years, I’m also here to tell you, it’s not your fault and it’s not the black plague. With a little patience and lots and lots of screen time, your family is going to be A-Okay.

Note that this post is not sponsored by any company, product or retailer. These are all products I have personally used and found to work with my family.

 

Lice 101

Lice is inconvenient, yes, but it’s not the end of the world – even if you feel like it is right now. Here are the basic lice survival tips I’ve shared with my friends and family to help them survive their own lice outbreaks and to keep my own family lice free.

 

Remember… You are a Good Mom. You are a Good Mom.

I grew up under the impression that only “dirty” kids got lice. So, when I found lice in my kid’s hair I immediately thought I had the smelly kids in class. How was that possible though? I bathe them regularly. We brush their hair. They wear clean clothes (most of the time). So, how on earth did they get lice? They got it because they’re kids, and kids like to hug, and touch and try on each other’s fuzzy sweatshirts. It happens. Try not to hyper-focus on how your kid got the lice, because it can happen even if you make them wear a ponytail every day. If you make it in to a big deal, your kids will feed off your stress. That’s not fun. Lice is stressful enough as is. Take a deep breath. Know bad things happen to good people and get ready to kill some lice.

 

Treat and Repeat

There are many over the counter remedies for killing lice. My personal preference is NIX. Buy enough that you can treat each affected child twice. The package says you only have to treat once, but the first time my house got lice, we only treated once and the lice came back. The next year when we got lice again, we treated once at the beginning, and then 10 days later, when it’s about the time that the eggs or nits could hatch. We haven’t had another outbreak since then (knock on wood). Most lice product lines also offer pesticide free versions.

Combing matters. The lice treatment comes with a comb, but the little plastic comb never cut it for my children’s hair. I always made sure to get two of these NIX metal tooth combs. They were lifesavers. When combing, you can use the combing gel they provide, if that works for you. That never worked for my kids. We used olive oil, hair oil or detangling spray all work to help combing be less painful.

Combing routine. For the 10 days between the first treatment and the last treatment, you need to comb through your child’s hair daily to remove any lice (I know, sorry). Toward the end, you may only need to do a “wet check.” A wet check is when you wet the child’s hair and look through it for any live lice, baby lice (they look like pepper flakes), or lice eggs on the hair. To remove these, use the metal comb, running from the scalp to the end of the hair. Be sure to wipe the comb clean with a wet paper towel afterward.

 The wet part of a wet check is very important. When lice are wet, they stop moving which makes them much easier to remove.

Check everyone. If one child has lice, another child (or you) might have it too. Wet check everyone daily during that 10-day window but only use the treatment on the family members who actually have lice in their hair.

Distractions are your friend. This is the one time when it’s okay to let your child be on electronics for a long stretch. A movie, or tablet can be a good distraction from the long combing process that can take 30-60 minutes per child, depending on hair length. Coloring and reading are also helpful. You just need something where they can be still enough that you can comb through their hair.

Shower cap it up. Disposable shower caps are great to help keep your kid’s hair from spreading lice at home. My kids personally hated wearing them, but some of my friends swore by them.

 

Heat, heat and a little more heat

So, you have the lice on their head under control, but what about the couch? Their pillow? Their clothes? Their stuffed animals? Trust me, you’ll notice everywhere they’ve been. Heat is the easiest way to kill lice. 30 minutes under high heat can kill lice and their eggs. Lice will also die in 24 hours if they are not on a human, and eggs in 2 weeks. We always bagged up any stuffed animals they played with regularly in a garbage bag for two weeks. Their favorite stuffed animals got left out, but got the daily dryer treatment.

The dryer treatment. Each morning during the 10-day lice window, I put their pillow, favorite stuffed animals, blankets and sheets in the dryer for one cycle to kill any live lice. After school their sweatshirt, coat and hair supplies would get the dryer treatment too. We used the lice spray included in our kit for car seats and other items that couldn’t be thrown in the dryer. We also had a designated “lice couch” during that ten-day period so that we had less places we had to check and clean.

One of my friends recommends using an over the head dryer cap as part of the nightly treatments for your children. You can find one on amazon here.

 

Share on a Need to Know Basis

Just like I freaked out about lice, there will be other moms who freak out too. Don’t announce it on Facebook or the school’s social media page! Know your audience. If you have a germaphobe friend, probably not the best idea to share your lice woes with them. If your child plays a lot or carpools with particular kids, it is polite to let those parents know so they can check their own children. And also, so they can decide for themselves if they want to keep the kids separate for a time. Don’t take offense if they do. Just because one person is comfortable with their child playing with others while they have lice does not mean that other parents will feel the same way. Lice stinks, can you really blame anyone for trying to avoid getting it?

 

Prevent without Paranoia

It’s easy to go over the top trying to keep your child from getting lice again. There’s no need to go to extremes. Lice can happen, even if their hair’s up in a ponytail every day. The best approach is to help your child adjust their habits that are known spreaders of lice. Teach them to avoid trying on others hats or headbands (only if you pinky promise to not freak out when they do). Hats in stores and sharing hairbrushes and combs are other good things to steer clear of. At the same time, be realistic. Kids are going to share things now and then (and that’s okay). But sharing stuff once in a while, instead of at every recess, will lower your lice risk significantly. When your kids forget, don’t make them feel like it’s life or death because most of the time, they’re not going to get lice. And is it really their fault if they do? Of course not.

 

Breathe

Last of all, take a deep breath. I hate lice, you hate lice, but it happens and you’ll survive it. So, go ahead and scratch that imaginary itch and give your sad kid a big, huge hug. Lice ain’t nice, but it can be killed without killing your family in the process.

 

Here are some of the most popular Over-The-Counter Treatments, easily purchased at your local grocer or on Amazon:

 

About the Author

Jenner Porter lives in Austin, TX with her husband, four kids and kitchen aid mixer. They spend long, happy hours baking together. Sometimes she hangs out with her husband and kids too. Jenner writes picture books, middle grade novels, magazine articles and short stories. Humor is an important element in her writing and can be seen throughout her works. Her works have appeared in Jack and JillFriend, Ensign and Highlights magazines. She also has a picture book featured on storybird.com.

Follow Jenner on Twitter here: @slushpilestory

 

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Stressed? Science Says Smell THIS!

Mamas—raise your hand if you’ve found yourself stressed out in the last week? Day? Hour?

Ha! Ladies, I know my audience, and I’m thinking pretty much every hand is up right now. (If not, I’d love to know your secret. Let’s talk. Like, really.)

Well, for starters, know that if you’re feeling the stress, you’re not alone. And secondly, you’ll be happy to know that the antidote no longer requires a trip to the rose garden…though that probably wouldn’t hurt.

A recent study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that a woman’s stress level can drop when she takes a whiff of her romantic partner’s t-shirt.

Researchers studied 96 opposite-sex couples and had the men wear the same t-shirt for 24 hours with no deodorant or scented body products to interfere with their natural scents. The t-shirts were then frozen to preserve the smells, and later presented to the women in a series of experiments. Some women were given the t-shirt of a stranger to smell, others their own romantic partner’s. The women were then given mock job interviews and difficult math problems to solve in order to raise stress levels.

After the “tests” were performed, the women were asked to rate their own stress levels and provide saliva samples in order to measure cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. Unsurprisingly, the women who were provided with the shirts of their partners had lower overall stress levels than those of their counterparts in the study, suggesting that the familiar scent of a loved one can create a sense of safety and calm, even during a stressful situation.

So, the next time you find yourself worrying over that mountain of unwashed laundry, just stop and…well, smell the dirty laundry.

 

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Science Says 15 Minutes Can Fix This Common Disorder

Did you know that the average American child spends over seven hours in front of a screen every single day?

It’s a mind-blowing number that becomes even more shocking when compared to the research showing that same child spends less than ten minutes in freeform outdoor play per day. It hardly seems possible when I think about my own dirt-road upbringing, but given the onslaught of increasingly pervasive technology, Nature Deficit Disorder has become a legitimate threat in today’s world.

The term itself may seem a little hokey, and is not actually medically diagnosed, but the data is there to back it up. Access to open, green environments has proven to have a positive impact in children studied throughout the years in critical areas such as confidence, academic achievement, stress-relief, and social and emotional well-being.

As adults, we have all experienced that literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air when we make the time to get outside—away from phones, televisions, laptops, tablets…need I continue? It’s no different for our kids. The stresses of growing and learning can weigh heavy, and children are desperate (despite their moaning at our demands for screen-free time) for that relief. Just fifteen minutes a day can make all the difference.

So, schedule some time to get outside with your kids this week. And better yet, encourage them to play freely while you take in some fresh air of your own. We’ll all feel healthier for it.

 

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Science Says: Have Your Cake And…Fiber, Too.

Remember the good old days when a well-rounded diet consisted of meat, potatoes, bread slathered in butter, the occasional veggie, and a beautiful display-worthy cake every night for dessert? (Wait, was this the 1950s or a dream I had the other night…? Really hard to tell.)

Either way, those dreams have been crushed as every diet in the book has risen to the surface over the years, each preaching a contradictory message to the last:

No meat! All meat! No starch! No carbs! Aaaaaaaall the carbs! No fat! All fat! How could anyone make sense of all the options?

Thankfully, science is now telling us that we are free to have our cake, as long as we have some fiber, too.

Recent research done by the University of Georgia tells us that in tests conducted where each group was fed either a high-fiber diet, a high-fat diet, or a high-fat diet supplemented with fiber, the latter didn’t come out looking half bad. While the high-fiber diet group came out of the study with the best overall gut health, those that ate the high-fat diet supplemented with fiber had less weight gain and obesity than the solely high-fat dieters. The fiber supplements also helped decrease the size of fat cells, regulate blood sugar, and lower cholesterol.

I bet those bran flakes aren’t looking too bad right about now!

So, it looks like we can put the diet battle to rest at last as moderation in all things is probably our best bet. Especially since I am now justified in finishing off the ice cream tonight because I had a bowl of ultra-fibrous peas at dinner. Win.

 

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How to Start (and Keep) Friendships as an Introvert

Very few people who meet me would ever consider me an introvert. I dance this weird line of being an extroverted introvert.  When I get in a group I am very chatty (too chatty?) and loud and comical and can’t really turn it off. It’s more of a coping mechanism because meeting new people skyrockets my anxiety. I become incredibly self-conscious. I second guess everything I say and then replay it in my head for weeks (sometimes months).  I don’t need to socialize outside of my 1-2 closest friends (and even they rarely see me).  If you call, count on me not answering (why? why would you not text?!). If I do socialize, I am going to need a day or two to recover, so no, I won’t be going out again with you this week… When people ask what I am doing for my birthday, I feel ashamed to admit that I just want everyone out of the house so I can lay in my flannel sheets and watch all the grown-up shows I can’t watch while my kids are awake. All day.

In high school I had a frustrating phone call with my very, very best friend at the time.  I really liked like naps. I grew up in the pacific northwest where it was cold and I hate being cold.  School was too early, and I am the furthest thing from a morning person. My preferred after-school routine was to walk in the door, cover the heater vent with a blanket to create a cocoon of heat and nap. I loved this routine. Apparently, this isn’t a good routine for a high school social life.  As my friend dragged me out of my nap with yet another phone call, she began to tell me how bad of a friend I was because I didn’t like to talk on the phone to her. What she didn’t understand is that I didn’t like to talk on the phone to anyone. And I just saw her at school! What really could have happened between 3pm and 6pm?? This was the moment our friendship started to see trouble. I never initiated communication with her outside of school. She was always the one dragging me around.  Which I loved, but that one-sided love can only last so long.

                source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/1407443614173492/

 

Here I am 20 years later and just now learning that no matter how much of an introvert I am, if I really like someone and want them as a friend, I need to start by doing these 3 things.

ANSWER THE PHONE.

Why is this so hard?!  It seems simple to all you non-introverts, but this is a miserable task. When I get a phone call I am put on the spot and have to answer and discuss unknown questions and topics. I have no time to prepare myself or look at my calendar to find potential ways to already be busy for whatever they want to invite me to.  However, people call you because they WANT to talk to you! Answering phone calls will make them feel as though you are engaged and not avoiding them.

INITIATE OUTINGS.

I love it when plans are canceled. Doesn’t matter who with — I just love the feeling that falls off my shoulders when I HAD to do something and now don’t have to.  However, you don’t get friends by canceling plans whenever possible. Sometimes you MUST be the person who initiates social outings. It could be as simple as a movie at your house, a quick lunch with the kids at a nearby park, or even a quick coffee. Any time together is an expression of love and caring; it’s saying “Hey, I like you and want to spend time with you.” (Imagine that!) 

BE OPEN ABOUT BEING AN INTROVERT.

Some people may not fully understand what you are saying when you tell them you are an introvert. So if you really like someone and really do want to be their friend, you have to communicate to them about who you are.  One of my dearest friends is the best kind of introvert friend ever. I often tell people we became friends after she tried to date me for a year.  She NEVER gave up on me. I remember plenty of texts where I bowed out of plans or invites and followed it up with “Please don’t give up on me. Still invite me.” And she did. Even though I said no most of the time, she never let me go too long without seeing her face or getting a text. Soon enough she was a safe, anxiety-free place for me to land…and now she gets video chats about my dirty clothes pile.

Introverts are tough to be friends with. Trust me when I say that just because we really like being home and doing “boring” things that don’t involve socializing, it doesn’t mean we want to be forgotten or left out of the invites (and all you introverts — you have to say this to people!! They don’t know!). We just need time and space to figure out when we are comfortable enough to get involved. 

 

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What Is Normal Eating?

At this time of the year when so many people are making goals around food and eating, it’s a good time to be reminded about what constitutes normal eating habits.

The best quote comes from fellow dietitian and author Ellyn Satter, who is known for her Eating Competence Model. She is more concerned about helping you develop eating confidence and competence versus developing uber-healthy eating habits.

In essence, you would do well to learn how to self-moderate and trust yourself to make wise decisions around food than to stick to certain outside rules or guidelines for eating. Her definition of “normal eating” will help explain this concept:

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it — not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”

What this definition does is normalize a wide variety of eating behaviors. Eating should be flexible, variable, satisfying, nourishing and enjoyable. It shouldn’t be obsessive, preoccupying, rigid, overwhelming or worrisome.

If your eating habits currently feel chaotic and haphazard or restrictive and obsessive, this can feel very out of reach. So how do you get there?

Recommendations for normal eating

1. Don’t tell yourself there are certain foods you can’t have. That will only work to increase anxiety around food and will encourage all-or-nothing behaviors. When you know you can have a food anytime you really want it, its power over you decreases. On the other hand, if you know this is the last time you’ll be able to have it (or at least the last time this week or this month, etc.), you’re going to have all of it right now, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. It’s much easier to behave in a level-headed, sane and wise way around food when you aren’t being micromanaged by rules.

2. We tend to run scared of feeling satisfied because we equate it with overeating. However, satisfaction is our solution. Eat for the intent to feel satisfied. Eating to feel satisfied naturally decreases overeating or under eating because neither of those are satisfying (rather, uncomfortable or painful). Feeling full and satisfied from your meals and snacks is your solution. Not feeling full and satisfied is what leads to problematic behaviors.

3. Normal eating is about being intentional, mindful and aware. Instead of tracking calories or portion sizes, note hunger and fullness levels before and after eating, while paying attention to how the food makes you feel. After a meal or snack are you left feeling satisfied? Energized? Lethargic? Still hungry? Balanced? Get curious about how you feel and function instead of being judgmental about what you look like or weigh. This will help connect you to intuitive signals that will naturally guide eating instead of outside rules or measurements.

4. As mentioned, normal eating includes being mindful. While it’s not realistic that we always eat without distractions, aim to show up to your meals with awareness. You are more likely to know when you are full and satisfied if you are paying attention. Maybe set a goal to do this with one meal or one snack each day.

Becoming a normal eater is possible for everyone. In fact, you aren’t learning something new, you are remembering something you were innately born with. Keep that in mind as you practice — you can trust yourself with food.

 

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Holiday Survival Guide – How To Navigate Food

The holiday season is full of opportunities for celebrating gratitude, family, love, faith and service.  Food is often a big part of those celebrations, as it should be!  However, it’s during the holiday season that many are tempted to adopt an all-or-nothing attitude toward food, throwing all caution to the wind only to punish themselves come January.  Instead of falling prey to extremes in thinking and behavior that only leave you feeling exhausted physically and emotionally, these tips are aimed to help you enjoy the holiday season without feeling the need to pay penance.

1.  First and foremost, don’t plan to diet or follow some sort of meal plan after the new year. That’s a sure fire way to trigger the all-or-nothing mindset during the holidays.  If you know restriction, deprivation or a diet is around the corner, it can create “last meal syndrome” where you get all of it right now even if it means consistently feeling stuffed and uncomfortable.

2. Along with that, be sure you are eating consistently, regularly and adequately rather than skipping meals or saving up for holiday meals.  If you go into a meal starving, it’s hard to stay level headed about how much and what you eat.  Regular, balanced meals will stabilizes blood sugar levels, which helps to reduce cravings. It also influences mood regulation as well as overall hormonal balance.  That’s going to come in very handy in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and managing stressful situations and schedules.  Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to come last!

3.  I would recommend approaching holiday meals like any other meal.  While it may include traditional foods, seeing the holiday meal as different usually means you choose to eat differently, losing sight of listening to hunger or fullness levels.  Remember that you can have tasty, flavorful, satisfying meals any day of the year. This doesn’t have to be reserved only for holidays. Even make your favorite holiday dish at other times during the year or at least during the season.

4.  LOVE the food you are eating.  Get picky – eat what is truly satisfying and enjoyable for you.  If you find yourself eating a treat or a portion of your meal that doesn’t taste good, leave it behind and move on to something that does.  If you love your Grandma’s pumpkin pie and she only makes it once a year on Thanksgiving, you better have a piece but allow yourself to eat it without self-inflicted shame or guilt.

5.  Make memories and find meaning in what you’re celebrating. Food is a fun part of that – and perhaps symbolic – but it’s not THE celebration.  That can help put food in perspective, making it less overwhelming or preoccupying.

6.  You may overeat, that happens.  Trust that your body knows how to self-moderate; it can handle it without needing self-imposed restriction and rules.  Be intentional about listening and learning and respecting what it’s needing.  That could take practice!  Recommit to yourself rather than recommitting to a diet or set of food rules.

I wish you nothing but a healthy, happy and mindful holiday season!

holiday food

 

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Life After Birth: 5 Ways to Take Care Of Yourself

Check out part one and part two of our series of frequently asked questions on postpartum mood disorders. We are offering an exclusive discount to Today’s Mama’s readers. Enter code HMHBLOVESTM to take $40 off a lifetime membership to our program. In our two-part series on postpartum mental health, we mentioned the idea of upping your self-care game if you have the baby blues. (Please note: the baby blues is not a postpartum mood disorder. Read our previous posts for a clear explanation and check out this post about baby blues vs. postpartum depression.) Self-care is often neglected during the blur of new motherhood, so we hope these fun ideas will tempt you to treat yourself and indulge in some much deserved YOU time.

Enjoy Some Water Therapy

Budget: Ask your partner, a friend, family member or sitter to take your little(s) for an hour of uninterrupted time. Fill up your tub and add your favorite bubbles, oils, or salts (we love these Ancient Minerals bath salts). Light a candle, and turn on your favorite Pandora station loud enough to cancel out any potential baby/toddler noises. Make sure to lock the door, so your zen isn’t interrupted.

Splurge: Consider checking out a float tank (get approval from your provider first!) in your area. Float tanks (sometimes called sensory deprivation tanks) are large, light- and sound-free chambers concentrated with Epsom salt so your body floats to the surface. It can be used as a tool for stress and pain management. If you don’t have any float tank companies in your area, consider getting a day pass to a local spa that has a hot tub. Either way, you’ll still get some deep relaxation and restorative time alone.

Find A Supportive Community

We were designed to mother in communities. Reaching out for help is life skill that you can start practicing today! Sometimes a good laugh or venting session with a friend can help do the trick. Other times, you may need a more experienced professional to step in.

Budget:  Set up a babysitting swap with another mama friend. You watch her kid(s) while she enjoys some alone time, and next time she’ll watch yours. Don’t have any close mama friends? Ask anyone you trust to watch your little(s) and you can “repay” them with a coffee or have them over for dinner once you’re feeling up to it. Don’t want to be alone? Strap the baby in the stroller, grab a friend, go for a walk, and allow yourself an hour to just vent on how freaking hard motherhood is. Once you’re done releasing, discuss ways you can troubleshoot the difficult situations. Need professional support? Check out Postpartum Support International’s free, live “Chats With an Expert” which are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. You can also see if your insurance covers visits to health professionals, such as a behavioral health and marriage and family therapists.

Splurge: Hire a personal trainer, registered dietitian (this may be covered by your insurance), life coach, or business coach who can offer you personalized strategies to reach your unique goals, whatever they may be.

Streamline Your Beauty Routine

I mean, you’re absolutely stunning without makeup, but sometimes it just feels nice to spend a few minutes brushing your hair and taking care of your skin. Take some time to figure out a quick beauty routine that works for you. If you know you can breeze through your beauty routine in under 10 minutes with products you love to use, you’ll probably make regular time to do so.

Budget: We all have that one friend who has fantastic hair and makeup. Ask her if she’d come over to take a look at your makeup drawer and help you figure out which products to keep; which products to toss; which products to invest in; and how to organize everything. She’ll be honored to share her tips with you, and you’ll get some girlfriend time in!

Splurge: Consider going to a local Ulta or department store make-up counter and have them give you a quick make-over. You’ll likely have to purchase a product and/or pay a small fee for the service, but it can be a fun, new way to recreate your style. Ask for a simple routine to keep it reasonable! Or, you can try Beautycounter’s 5-Minute Face Kit. You could also go to a nice salon and get a great new haircut. Ask the stylist for some tips for fabulous, low-maintenance style!

Channel Your Inner Bookworm

I’m talking fiction — dramatic, juicy, “I can’t put it down” books. I’m NOT talking sleep training books and the other millions of baby books that make you doubt your mama instincts. Pick a new favorite tome and find some time to read each week.

Budget: Head to your library and find something that will take your mind off of mom-ing for awhile. You may be able to time it just right to join the library’s mommy and me group while you’re there! Or, you could also borrow a book from a friend, family member, or neighbor who has similar interests. Consider joining a book club. You might be able to find a local one on Meetup, or you can join an online book club on Instagram, like Belletrist, Book Bento, or RWBookClub.

Splurge: Consider getting a Kindle or Audible membership to keep your personal library fresh with new options.

Get Help with Grocery Shopping and Food Prep

Budget:  Consider a time-saving grocery service, like Instacart. Some popular local grocery stores also offer this service, and Amazon Prime Now delivers groceries in specific areas. You could also host a  weekly meal swap with your neighbors/community, where you each make a few batches of your favorite meal. Then you can “trade” batches of your meal for other meals so you get a variety of meals throughout the week, with less work and prep time.

Splurge: Let meal-delivery companies do the cooking for you! There are plenty of Whole30 Approved options out there. If cooking relaxes you, but you’d like help with some of the prep work, consider a service like SunBasket. Maybe meal planning gets you down. In that case, a subscription to RealPlans might be the ticket. It will save you tons of time planning and you’ll find delicious, new recipes to keep your meals exciting.

Bonus ideas from our HMHB Community:

“Tiara time” Dedicate at least 5-minutes to yourself.  You can designate this time by literally putting on a toy tiara, or by sitting in a certain spot in your house. When your partner or (older) kids see that, they’ll know that you need a minute to recharge and that they can’t interrupt you until it’s over.

Purchase a new coffee mug with a fun slogan Choose something to make you smile every morning. I like mugs from Brim Papery and The Love Bomb Company.

Start a new hobby or rekindle an old passion. Strap on your dusty rollerblades, learn how to kickbox, decorate cakes, play piano, color, or dance. The options are endless!

Walk around Target without a child or a time limit What else is there to say?

Recognize Yourself

The simplest way to take care of yourself? Remind yourself that you’re still you! It’s important to “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to have your own needs met, and this includes taking time for self-care. When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re more likely to pick arguments with your partner, yell at your kids, and emotionally eat. Simply taking a few minutes for yourself each day can make all the difference. Give it a shot, mama! What do you have to lose? What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself? Join the conversation on Instagram or send us an email.


Steph(hi)-6Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com.

 

 

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