Today, I am excited to share this blog’s very first guest post, by Kirsten Hedden. I stumbled across Kirsten’s own blog as we participated together in The Yogipreneur’s Fired Up and Focused Challenge and was awed by her engaging and honest writing.
When I saw her write about her struggles with diastisis (the separating of the superficial layer of abdominal muscles during pregnancy, and a common condition I see in my yoga therapy practice) I knew I had to invite her to share her wisdom and insight on self care during the postpartum period.
3:16 am. Less than two weeks post-partum.
My mom is here so I can sleep, but I can’t sleep.
My mind is some sort of irrational thinking machine and I find myself creating a barricade of pillows, every pillow in the house, around the couch, in the living room, where my mom is sitting, awake, and holding my son. She’s not saying anything; she’s just doing that motherly watching thing, like a cat, quiet but seeing everything.
“What are you looking at?” I snap.
“What are you doing honey?” she gently asks.
“Obviously, I’m making sure that if you drop the baby he lands on something soft.” I growl.
“Ok. I’m not going to drop him and you need to sleep.” She soothes in a matter-of-fact mom voice.
“Just in case, you know, you might fall asleep; it’s very late for you.” I try to say a bit nicer, but it still sounds tinged with crazy. I continue placing all the pillows.
With the patience only a mother gives, she lovingly whispers, “Ok if that makes you feel better, but you really need to go to sleep, it’s been several days since you’ve slept. I raised three babies and I didn’t drop any of them. He is safe. I also love him.”
I guess that’s true, maybe I can sleep. But what if I sleep and he stops breathing……..spinning, spinning, down and down the rabbit hole of new mom worry.
It’s OK to Feel a Little Crazy.
New mothers have some irrational moments.
We all have different kinds and they take the shape of multiple, unique fears in our lives.
For some of us, the fear goes on longer and might even slide into deep anxiety, depression, or even rage if left unchecked. The important thing to know is that it is OK to feel this way. You do not need to repress your less than cozy feelings. If you do, they might live in your body forever and manifest as DIS-ease. Hormones are surging and sometimes this happens. It’s part of the processing.
The caveat – you do have to be aware of what you are feeling in order to overcome it.
Try the S.T.O.P. method
This method is called S.T.O.P. I found it late one late night, on the Internet, when I couldn’t sleep, worried about various germs, growth spurts, and developmental milestones. It helped me begin to recognize and respond to my various anxieties. Maybe it can help you too.
S = Stop, pause
T = Take a deep breath
O = Observe your surroundings and yourself, name what is happening.
P = Proceed with the next most important thing
No fancy gimmick here – this simple technique is a pause in the action so that we see ourselves more clearly and give a little space before we react to a fear, worry, anger or other emotion. This is an switch to flip from reaction into response.
Had I known this during the night of 1,000 pillows it might have gone something like this:
STOP – Freeze frame, me gathering all the pillows in the house.
BREATHE – Slowing my panic, breathing deep encourages rational thinking and takes me out of fight or flight mode.
OBSERVE – I’m holding these pillows, I’m insanely tired, I see that I’m not trusting anyone else to care for my child. I am unwilling to accept help. My heart is racing. I feel that I am the only one in the world that can adequately meet my child’s needs. I’m also scared that maybe I can’t, so I’m over compensating right now. I recognize I’m being irrational. I am not willing to accept help because I feel I should be able to do this myself. I like to be in control.
PROCEED – I can go to sleep now, it is important to allow help because I cannot be a fully functioning mother without this break.
Give Yourself a Structure
This S.T.O.P. method is easy to remember and easy to apply.
You can use it mentally or perhaps doing it journal style might be helpful for you. When we can frame an accessible approach, we can find our internal barriers and address the cause of our anxiety. Naming your emotions may help to weed out what isn’t serving you.
Let me know if this is helpful to you. Share your own story in the comments and share what the S.T.O.P method brings up for you.
Kirsten holds (2) 200-hour teacher trainings in Hatha Yoga and began teaching in 2008, she is currently enrolled in an advanced teacher training with Prairie Yoga in Lisle, IL. Kirsten is also an ergonomics and safety specialist as well as studio director of Senara Health and Healing Center in Peoria, IL. Her teaching focuses on alignment and functional asanas for every level of student.
Kirsten believes that yoga makes a parent more patient, kind, and loving. Her fondest dream to extend those qualities of practice to new students, sharing traditional techniques. Yoga is more than just posing with your body, it’s practicing the progress of living life full and healthy in a loving way. If that sounds good to you, follow Kirsten on social media to keep informed of her on-line and in person offerings.
Facebook: Kirsten Hedden Yoga