Motherhood

Reduce Your Anxiety With This Simple Strategy

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Before you do anything else, try this!

Have you ever paid attention to the correlation between your anxiety, and your appetite?

Fact: Hunger INCREASES anxiety. And so does caffeine!

If you want to get a head start on managing your anxiety for the day, considering trying to eat something before that first cup of coffee, and definitely don’t skip breakfast altogether.

So many people I know, particularly mothers, don’t eat breakfast; and the reason is: “I’m too busy!” Well I’m here to tell you that YOU are worth prioritizing. When you don’t make time for yourself and your basic needs, you’re not the only one who suffers - your family does too. Your basic needs need to be met (ie. hunger), in order to set yourself up for tackling symptoms of anxiety, anger, rage, and anything else that comes your way.

When you take the time for yourself, you are better equipped to handle the stressors of motherhood, it really is that simple. Once your basic needs have been met, you open up the ability for managing the residual symptoms of your anxiety, and maybe even further exploration of what is at the root of it, to lead you towards long-term healing.

Alongside from starting your day with ensuring that your basic need of satisfying hunger has been met, the other times that you notice your anxiety amping up please check in with yourself and consider when the last time you ate was. A simple tool for decreasing symptoms of anxiety is making sure you are getting enough to eat.

Blood Sugar Levels

Blood Sugar Levels

Guest Contribution from Laurel Berube, Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant:

The age old "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is very true, particularly for those that experience any symptoms of peri-natal mood or anxiety disorders.

Blood sugar is one of the aspects that affects our brain and moods. It has the ability to keep us level headed clear thinking and happiness. Or it can swing your moods, make you angry, irritable and physically lightheaded or ill feeling.

Stable blood sugar means it does not swing from high to low throughout the day. You won't get bursts of energy and then a crash. Cravings are less so you won't be reaching for those unhealthy foods.

This image shows you what happens to your blood sugar throughout the day. We eat, we get a surge, it drops, we eat, repeat.
What would that look like if you took one of those meals out? The drop would be far greater leaving you exhausted and irritable. Skipping breakfast starts the day off really low!

Our brain needs carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to function properly. Eating a healthy breakfast can seem like a huge task, but without it, your brain is starving for the nutrients it needs.

Whatever you eat in the morning, make it healthy and make it fast. Those mornings can zip by so fast and all we make time for is a coffee or tea and by the time we wonder why we are so cranky it's 2 hours later and haven't eaten anything. It's also likely that you haven't even had a drink of water. Before you even drink that coffee, drink a large glass of water and have something to eat.

- Laurel Berube, CHNC

www.laurelberube.ca

What more information on how to eat to help your moods? Sign up for Laurel Berube, CHNC newsletter & Get a FREE 3 Day Energy Boosting Meal Plan for Moms.

Disclosure: This is ONE strategy to help you decrease your anxiety, and you will likely need to use other tools and support to be able to manage your anxiety completely. To read more about exploring the root of anxiety, read: Dear Anxiety, I Want to Break Up With You.

Is This a topic you want to explore further? Join us for our Mini-Retreat for Mothers all about Managing Anxiety!

JEN REDDISH IS A REGISTERED MASTER THERAPEUTIC COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN HOLDS WORKSHOPS, RETREATS, GROUPS & INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS ON TOPICS PERTAINING TO MOTHERHOOD, BODY IMAGE, & THE PERI-NATAL PERIOD.

Dear Anxiety: I Want to Break Up With You.

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“Dear Anxiety,  

I want to break up with you. 

Our relationship feels toxic, because of everything you do.

I don’t want to live with you anymore. Why won’t you go away?

I don’t want to feel you anymore, and I really don’t want you to stay.

You make things way too hard for me, you always bring me down.

Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the overwhelm that you cause me, it feels like I’m going to drown.

Sometimes you creep in slowly and I don’t even notice that you’re there,

Until you are ruling over every move I make and I start feeling like your puppeteer.

Other times you storm in so fast, I feel instantly afraid,

Afraid of you and the damage that will cascade.

I’m sick of this and I want to say goodbye.

But I can’t seem to get rid of you no matter how hard I try.

Even when I catch my breath and start to calm myself down,

I know it won’t be long until I start to feel rundown.

Even the times when I’m feeling great, I know that you are still there,

And then before I know it, I feel like I am running out of air.

You seem to always be waiting for me, do you think I’m just a pushover?

There you are waiting to catch me off-guard, waiting to take over.

Anxiety, can’t you see it’s no wonder I don’t want you.

But if you’re not going anywhere, what am I going to do? “

ANXIETY:

“Don’t you know I’m trying to help? I’m here to give you guidance.

I need you to consider what it would be like if you were to give me a chance.

You keep trying to get rid of me and figure out if you can be stronger.

But each time that you push me away I have no choice but to push back harder.

Our relationship feels toxic because you won’t acknowledge why I’m here.

As long as you keep doing this, I’m going to stay near.

I really wish you’d start to see - I’m not going anywhere…

If only you would lean in towards me, listen to what I have to share.

You need to start to realize that I’m here because I care.

I think that you would learn a lot and I could help you to get stronger.

I really wish you knew that when you acknowledge me, I actually get smaller!

Of course I’m always here for you, waiting to step in,

I do this when I see you need me, when your resources are running thin.

Don’t you know I’m here to warn you? To remind you to slow down?

I think that if you could learn from me, you might not feel so rundown.

To get what you are really seeking, you don’t have to look very far.

All you really need to do is look within, to the essence of who you are.

In the meantime while all you’re doing is trying to run,

I won’t be going anywhere unless one day my job is done.

So please stop trying to break up with me, you’re really just wasting your time.

I won’t be going anywhere until you’re no longer mine.“

- Sincerely, Anxiety.

This letter to & response from Anxiety  was written to demonstrate how paralyzing the fight with anxiety can be, and how important it is to understand what purpose your anxiety is serving in order for you to find healing.

All of our emotions are wise messengers and powerful things can happen when we LEAN IN to our emotions rather than pushing them away.

Understanding our emotions is so important to be able to manage our emotions effectively and not get overwhelmed by them. Although…. sometimes our emotions are so powerful that the idea of this can feel overwhelming itself! Exploring your emotions more deeply needs to be done cautiously so that it feels manageable and doesn’t make your anxiety worse!

The first step towards managing anxiety is to learn tools to prevent the intensity from becoming debilitating. You can find my three favourite strategies here. Once you become skilled at decreasing the intensity of your anxiety is when you can begin the journey towards exploring the root of it more deeply to expand your awareness and allow opportunity for long term healing.

Getting support from a counsellor experienced in anxiety can be an extremely useful support for anyone struggling with this. There are also many other approaches to managing anxiety that can be useful either alongside counselling. Each individual experiences anxiety (and all emotions!) differently and it is important that you choose a treatment path that feels right for you.

-Jen Reddish, RTC, MTC, The Essence of You Counselling

Is This a topic you want to explore further? Join us for our Mini-Retreat for Mothers all about Managing Anxiety!

JEN REDDISH IS A REGISTERED MASTER THERAPEUTIC COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN HOLDS WORKSHOPS, RETREATS, GROUPS & INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS ON TOPICS PERTAINING TO MOTHERHOOD, BODY IMAGE, & THE PERI-NATAL PERIOD.

Reclaiming Your Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood

Who feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself in motherhood, and carry too much guilt? Watch this video below to learn what I think about “Mom-Guilt”, why you don’t need to be feeling it all the time and how learning to release it will help you in connecting with your authentic self and reclaiming your identity.

“Who Am I?” - I hear this often from the women I work with in my counselling practice. When you become a mother and your focus leans away from yourself and onto your family, it’s easy to lose connection with your identity. “Who am I besides being a mother?”

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Are you the same as you were before? Are you entirely different? Or maybe somewhere in between? I like to think that the essence of who you are is the same.... while you’ve also morphed into a new version of YOURSELF. 

When you find yourself wondering “who am I?” ... I encourage you to check in and notice if you’ve been second guessing yourself lately or maybe giving too much of yourself away. Tune into yourself, your inner voice. Listen carefully. You might be surprised at what happens when you allow yourself to connect TO YOURSELF. 

If this is an area you would like to be supported in, come to my next workshop “Reclaiming Your Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood”.

You will be supported to  connect to yourself on a deeper level. Participants will have an opportunity to explore: qualities within yourself that represent who you are, reconnecting with lost parts of yourself and letting go what is no longer serving you, and self-care strategies that help you be your authentic self.

Why wait to start feeling better within yourself? Register now for Jen’s workshop “Reclaiming Yoir Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood”. Jen offers this workshop in-person in the Calgary area and also in an interactive online format.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Shhh! Let's not talk about our body image issues....

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“I just have to lose another x pounds and then I’ll be at my “goal weight”. “I’m not eating carbs right now.” “That has way too many calories” “I was so bad today having x” “I can’t wear that because it show my .... cellulite/stretch marks/“mom tum etc.” “I don’t want that person to see me because I don’t look good enough” “I can’t go to that event because I’ve gained too much weight” “I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror so I can’t go shopping”

Does any of this sound familiar?

Learning to LOVE your pregnant/post-partum body can be difficult, especially in a society that capitalizes off of shaming women’s bodies. If you feel like you focus a lot on your appearance, weight, or size, read on!

The majority of people talk about body image discomfort and goals for weight loss in a way that normalizes having a dysfunctional relationship with your body and/or food. People DON’T often talk about body image issues in a way that offers support or promotes healthy change.

Have you felt uncomfortable with your body since becoming pregnant or giving birth? Or perhaps carried longer term body image issues into pregnancy and motherhood with you?

Focusing on body appearance and food is an extremely common coping strategy of mothers, sometimes conscious and sometimes not. SO much of pregnancy and motherhood is unpredictable, causing women to feel powerless and out of control. Our bodies can become a very easy target. Controlling food and weight seems TANGIBLE, unlike parenting! But this distraction can quickly become and unhealthy and dysfunctional way of coping with the stresses of life.

What are the underlying causes that contribute to your body dissatisfaction? Where do your beliefs about yourself and your body come from? What are the links between your body image and your self esteem? And…. what does shame have to do with it?

If this post speaks to you, talk to me about my upcoming workshop “Loving your body” which will be followed by an optional 5-part series helping you to break down what’s driving your body dissatisfaction and help you to make LONG LASTING positive changes to the way you view your body and yourself.

Jen has almost 10 years experience supporting women with building healthy and positive relationships with their bodies and she is passionate about supporting women on this topic! Jen’s work with women struggling with body image issues and eating disorders over the course of her career is an asset to this workshop!

What do you want to change about your RELATIONSHIP with your body and food in a healthy way? Comment below.

But it’s normal, right? Part 1: Post-partum Bodies

But it’s normal, right? Part 1: Post-partum Bodies:

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Is it common to have body dissatisfaction post-partum? YES. But is it normal? ...... Often when we claim that something is “normal”, it can trigger feelings of powerlessness... or make us feel defeated or like we won’t be able to change. It can also create acceptance, which is positive in many situations (normalizing, decreasing shame,etc!) , but you don’t have to just accept that you will be uncomfortable and dissatisfied with your body because you’re a mama now. You can dig a little deeper and find ways to connect to yourself to unearth what is really causing your body dissatisfaction in the first place... and I guarantee it’s not all about the way you LOOK. Continue reading more on what’s “normal” vs not on your changing body in the peri-natal period.


Come to my next workshop on “Loving Your Body” for an opportunity to truly connect to yourself and make lasting changes in how you view your body. Offered as an interactive online workshop & In-person in Calgary area.

Register online here:

“I’m keeping my calm, and then I EXPLODE.”

“I’m keeping my calm, and then I EXPLODE.”

Does this sound like you?

Recently I did an interview with my sister Jessica from Birth Takes a Village on Post-Partum Rage. We talked about common presenting symptoms, and not-so-common strategies to make long lasting changes on the way you experience anger and rage in Motherhood. 

In this interview, I talked about how lingering feelings about your pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding experiences can impact your transition into motherhood & your early relationship with your baby, triggering feelings of anger & rage much faster……Oddly, something I didn’t mention in this interview is how common it is to have feelings of anger & rage when you don’t have enough support, when you’re feeling alone, and when your baby consistently cries for what seems like no apparent reason. 

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If you find yourself going from 0-100 in an instant and then feel guilt or shame, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! In my counselling practice (The Essence of You), where I primarily work with people in pre-natal, post-partum, & motherhood, one of the most common issues people come to me with are around anger & rage. 

Register for this workshop by clicking on photo!

Register for this workshop by clicking on photo!

For an opportunity to shift how your view your anger and how you see yourself to make lasting changes, come to my next anger and rage workshop next month (BEING OFFERED ONLINE & IN-PERSON IN CALGARY). In this workshop, you will be invited to learn more about what triggers your anger, how to start recognizing warning signs and learn coping strategies to deal with these feelings and the behaviours that come with it. This workshop will also provide opportunity for connecting with other women who have similar struggles in their journey through motherhood.

This workshop is one of my favourites to facilitate. I created this workshop on this specific topic last year when I noticed this theme arising in many of my individual sessions with clients who felt so much isolation and shame in their anger. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Book into Jen’s Anger & Rage Workshop below:

What’s So Great About Workshops?

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Why do I love facilitating workshops? I was asked this recently in an interview I did with Jessica from Birth Takes a Village on post-partum rage (video being posted soon!)

What I love about facilitating workshops is: bringing people together with what might be an otherwise unknown commonality, and creating a space for safe and empowering discussion and self-exploration.

I am always so excited when I create workshops to be able to share information about topics I am passionate about, and helping others to foster self-awareness and take steps towards their goals.

Workshops are a perfect place to start exploring a topic or area that you are interested in. It can be a gateway to starting therapy or an addition or any work you are already doing on yourself (with or without a professional).

Check out my website for more info on my upcoming workshops: www.theessenceofyou.ca/events

^ Private workshops and Individual Counselling sessions are also available by appointment if you’d rather explore these topics 1-1.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Book into Jen’s Workshops below:

But Isn't it Normal to Have Body Image Issues When My Body is Changing?

Have you found yourself wondering if you'll ever get your old body back?

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Many would argue that body image issues in the peri-natal period are "normal" and that there is nothing else going on; but if there was truly nothing else going on, then a woman would be able to notice and accept the changes to her body instead of becoming concerned or pre-occupied with the changes. 

Pregnancy, birth, and the transition into motherhood are all-consuming experiences that impact you physically and emotionally. Our bodies can quickly become a target when other things in our lives are becoming overwhelming or when uncomfortable emotions are being stirred up - which is inevitable during pregnancy, post-partum, or when you are ttc or experiencing pregnancy loss.

It's definitely normal to go through a period of grieving when you or your body goes through any transition, but when you find yourself becoming obsessive or preoccupied with these changes, it is important to ask yourself why you are finding yourself focusing so much on your body image during this time. If you want to get to a place where you feel true acceptance of your body, you have to be willing to look inside and see what else is triggering these feelings of dissatisfaction in the first place.

What is going on beneath the surface?

Come to our next body image workshop to explore this topic further! www.theessenceofyou.ca/events

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta with over 7 years experience working with women with body image issues and eating disorders. Visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly to find out about upcoming workshops.

 

 

Mom-Guilt: Where does it come from and what can you do about it?

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Something that comes up often with my clients in my Counselling Practice is "mom guilt" - a term and a feeling that I'm sure you are familiar with! Have you thought about where this comes from? The cause of this guilt is usually mixed - sometimes it's a lack of perfection, other times it's a result of being triggered and parenting in a way that doesn't align with your values.

A lot of women struggle with self-esteem and identity issues when they become mothers and for years afterwards. If we are continually acting in ways that don't align with our values, we will continue feeling guilt and shame and we will continue having self-esteem and identity issues.

So what's the answer here?!

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I always encourage my clients to assess what is causing the guilt or shame. Have you done something imperfect and do you need to practice more self-forgiveness and compassion? Or was it more than that - have you behaved in a way that doesn't align with you values?

If the latter is so, I encourage you to STILL practice self-forgiveness and compassion, but also look a little deeper. Explore what has triggered you into behaving this way, explore what you need to do to make amends and to fill yourself up more so that you can handle your triggers in a way that feels better for you.

You matter, you are important, and if you forget this, then you can't be everything you want to be for your family!

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

 

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D? 4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D?

4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

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This time of year can bring many mixed emotions. It is often full of frequent gatherings of family, friends & colleagues, which can come with ups and downs. Making time for seeing everyone and attending or hosting events, and financial stressors alongside preparing for Christmas itself (if you celebrate Christmas), thrown in with all of your usual daily responsibilities can become extremely overwhelming for families. Below I've listed 4 tips to help you cope with what is overwhelming you this holiday season: Setting limits, asserting yourself, respecting your boundaries and prioritizing self-care. 

Setting Limits

What limits do you need to set, and with whom? All of the extra family time might come with consequences - it is not unusual for people to have longstanding issues within their family of origin or in-laws. Do you find yourself getting triggered over and over again by certain members of your family (or in-laws)? It might be time to consider setting some limits with them to help maintain your own sanity and to preserve the relationship.

Limit-setting can also include looking at the bigger picture, prioritizing and setting limits internally. What will you choose to react to over this intense time of year? What supports do you need to put in place for yourself to help yourself with setting your internal limits and sticking to them? Is food or alcohol a trigger for you? Do you need to be conscious of the amount of physical time you spend around specific people or places? Do you need to let go of some perfectionist ideals and give yourself permission to do less? Do you need to discuss expectations of gift-giving with others? Becoming aware of unhealthy coping strategies that might amplify a bad situation and replacing these with supportive and healthy coping skills has a big impact on how you feel. 

Asserting Yourself

Once you decide what limits you need to set with people, you need to communicate these boundaries clearly to the people you are setting them with. Do you need to decline some invitations or say no to hosting houseguests? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to support yourself by standing up for yourself when you are criticized again by that same family member for the same thing they talk about every year? This might not seem like the right time to face big issues head-on, but you might be able to start taking small steps to support yourself. If you dread the holidays because you don't get treated respectfully by others, then how can you assert yourself in these situations to co-create a different outcome? In our families, we all have roles that we play. When we keep responding in the same ways, we stay in these roles, even if it is unhealthy. The only way to make change in our family dynamics is to change ourselves from within and change how we engage in these relationships. 

Respecting Your Own Boundaries

This is the hardest part! Once you decide to set limits and start asserting yourself, the most important part is following through with the boundaries that you have set. This might seem like it could ADD to the overwhelm instead of reducing it, but once you start doing this consistently, it is a surefire way to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed in the first place. Think about it - if you have realized that hosting Christmas as well as housing out-of-town guests is too overwhelming for you - and you assert yourself by communicating your boundaries, then you are giving yourself an opportunity to create an entirely different experience for yourself where YOUR needs are being met, preventing the overwhelm. Respecting the boundaries that you have set will enable you to see the outcome of these changes. If you don't follow through - then you will find yourself back in the same overwhelming cycle you were in before. 

Making Self-Care a Priority

During this time of year when your focus is usually on giving to everyone else, it is so important to do things that make you feel good. Take the extra time in the shower, make time to connect with people that make you feel heard and supported, make sure you are eating nourishing foods that are good for your body, go for that walk that you don't feel like you have time for. Doing anything that helps to "fill you up" is going to help you manage feelings of overwhelm when they come up. I always describe meeting your own needs by speaking up for yourself and setting boundaries as "deeper" self care; but to be able to do this work you need to feel strong and supported. Identifying your triggers and find grounding strategies that help you to reduce anxiety and feel more centred is a great starting point, alongside doing the little things that make you feel good about yourself and within yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually. What supports can you put in place to help you with setting limits and reducing your overwhelm during this time of year? Leave a comment!

Do you need support to learn how to set and maintain boundaries with others? Come to my workshop in January that is focused on setting boundaries and communicating effectively with others: Navigating Relationships in Motherhood

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.