I’m excited to announce that I am scheduling again for clients beginning on September 19th. And now that this pregnancy is over, I have more brain power to commit to writing and improving services for my clients. As I was thinking about the last few months, I realized that with transitions come great opportunity to practice our coping skills. Many times in life, transitions aren’t welcome, but we need to practice these coping skills anyway. I have MANY clients who come to me and say “I need coping skills” or “I’m not coping well.” Life is full of transitions and when our skills are up to par, we do much better working our way through our transitions rather than resisting where life is taking us.
I have been reflecting on how I have practiced some of my own coping skills as I have gone from mother of two daughter who are quickly becoming independent, to three daughters. Here is some insight to skills I have been practicing…and notice the word choice, “Practicing”; I’m by no means a master.
- Acceptance. Last night I watched an episode of “Madame Secretary” in which she was talking with some Tibetan Buddhist Monks. She kept using the line “clinging creates suffering” as she struggled with some challenges she couldn’t control or get rid of. I am completely enamored with the concept of Acceptance and use this often in my practice. Suffering comes from wanting things to be not what they are. The more our brain fights with current conditions and current challenges, the more we suffer. That suffering can look like frustration, ruminating, anxiety, sleeplessness, worry, depression, lack of motivation, disengaging from life, and many other forms. The more we work with what we have, the better we do.
Initially, after my little one was born, she had her days and nights mixed up as many infants do. I found myself trying to WILL her to sleep and she wouldn’t. I came up with a million ways to try to get her to sleep, but the truth was, this was my challenge to go through. Many if not all parents go through this, but in the late and early hours of the night, sleep deprivation can get the best of us. I really really worked on “allowing it to be so” and not trying to change what was happening but work with it. Sometimes that meant no sleep. Sometimes that meant baby slept on me. But, more importantly I tried to align my emotions with this idea of “allowing” instead of being frustrated as I help my baby. There were some very imperfect practice moments, but there were also some successes….and last night she slept around 7 hours. “This, too, shall pass.”
- Focus on Rest. This is a skill that I often work with my clients who are having trouble sleeping. Sometimes when our sleep gets out of whack, we start worrying about when we are going to sleep again and then we can’t sleep. When we focus on trying to go to sleep, looking at the clock, feeling that the night is slipping away from us, we can put ourselves in a pretty negative cycle. I often coach my clients on focusing on rest and not sleep. I have had to work on this myself as my sleep has been a little wacky. Sometimes I have had to remind myself of where I am and what is going on instead of focusing on my anxieties about falling asleep. It’s important to calmly lead yourself back into a better sleep routine….and that never happens instantly.
- Do. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. I just read some article about sitting and how sitting is unhelpful. And, let me tell you how easy it is to sit ALL THE TIME with a new baby. And, as much I have felt unmotivated at times to do things, that is when mood recovery happens. It’s always when we have a balance of doing and resting.
- Moderation and Listen. This is key. I have had to pay attention more and more to my mood, my body, and my relationships. I have been so excited to start running post pregnancy that I overdid it, hurt my knees, and am now having to be more patient. It has been during this time, that I have tried to pay more attention to priorities and allow them to shift from day to day. Some days it’s all about being social, letting the house go, and being with good friends. Some days it is all about getting the house clean, organizing, and planning . Some days, it’s about reading a good book and holding a cute little baby. If you have too many of one of these days, you get depressed, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. But, you have to listen and know which one you need and when you need it.
- Ask for Help. I am a helper. I am a therapist. Sometimes I think that because I know a few skills, I shouldn’t need any help. However, as I have worked with my clients, I have noticed that those who have a support network fare much better through difficult times. Many times these networks are built by asking for help. I am human and my theory is that there are 7 billion of us on the planet because we need each other. Sometimes you get to be the helper, and sometimes you get to be helped. I used to think that I was “weaker” for asking for help but I have realized that strong people ask for help all the time and that’s what keeps them going. For this postpartum period, I welcomed help and I think it greatly helped not only my mood the every day to do list to be easier, it increased and strengthened my relationships with others as I was grateful for their willingness to help and care. People are bonded by service…we love those we help. When we think we can do it all on our own, or should do it all on our own, we deprive ourselves of the ability to be loved and others their ability to love.
And, just so you know how we are surviving through our transition….the photo says it all. 🙂
Until next time,