The Holidays Are Here: How to Stay Low-Stress

The holidays are here with fun-filled and stress-filled times sandwiched together, not unlike raising children, work, marriage and other life pursuits. So, here are some recommendations to make the holidays calmer and happier.

First, have realistic expectations of yourself.  Many of us feel disappointed because our “fairytale images” don’t materialize. Instead, focus on feeling good from the inside out.  Build a fire and roast marshmallows, shop with a friend, or take a long walk in the woods.  Meditate, workout, read, or  listen to music.  Feed your soul.

Second, have realistic expectations of others.  No one’s family or friends are perfect, and the holidays won’t change this.  Since we can’t change them, we need to rely on ourselves to gather what’s positive and let go of the negative.  Create new family traditions so they don’t stir up bad memories.  If a situation becomes too negative, leave.

Likewise, don’t take relationship stress too personally. If your partner snaps about household clutter because they’re stringing Christmas lights while baking cookies, understand it’s their problem.  Don’t let them take their bad mood out on you but don’t react poorly either.  After all, love is the true intention of the season and it starts with you.

The Law of Giving and Receiving

I just got back from a wonderful week of meditation and yoga with Deepak Chopra and the amazing Chopra Center teachers. In it, they talked about how each day corresponds to one of “7 Spiritual Laws of Success,” and ways to practice each law on a given day.

So, here’s my first gift for you-ideas from Deepak Chopra about how to put Monday’s law, the “Law of Giving” into practice.

1. Bring everyone you come in contact with today a gift. For example, a smile, compliment or hug. Be creative. Material gifts count too but research shows that affection, attention and acceptance nourish our souls most.

2.  Be grateful for all life’s gifts like the sun, the flowers and waking up in the morning. Be open to receiving gifts from others whether it’s a material gift, compliment or kind remark. Let it soak in.

3. Keep the ultimate “wealth in life” -love, affection and caring ” circulating through giving and receiving which work in unison to keep the energy of the universe flowing. Send lovingkindness silently to everyone you meet.

My second gift to you is to encourage you to sign up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day meditation challenge “Free to Love” which starts today. Each day has a guided meditation, inspiration and practical tips about improving your health and well-being. Don’t pressure yourself about this. Be open-minded and take from it what works for you. That’s all.

Enjoy!

Give Thanks Every Day

There have been certain times in my life that were more challenging than others. Challenges not only make you stronger, but they force you to get out of your normal and comfortable routine. Without challenges in our lives there is no room for growth or opportunity for gratitude.

My experience with postpartum depression was negative and frightening, but I am thankful that it created the stronger, better, mom and person I am now. I am thankful that my experience led me to help other moms struggling with the same feelings and let them know that they are not alone. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people on my life’s journey.

Think about people you have met in your lifetime, the influence that each and every one of them has had on your life. Let someone know that you appreciate them. Thank someone for their time or kind gesture. Think about things you are you thankful for: a pet, flowers in your garden, the opportunity to travel. Giving thanks is a powerful positive message that can become part of your daily routine and improve your life. I didn’t learn to give thanks; it was something I created within myself. There are many benefits to giving thanks. Express gratitude today and always.

Linda Meyer is the Executive Director of Mother to Mother in St. Louis, MO. Mother to Mother provides free telephone support, group support and resources to women experiencing emotional difficulties during pregnancy and postpartum.

Spread Gratitude in Your Heart and Beyond

Last week, our theme for the self-care challenge was expressing gratitude and thankfulness. Many of you commented that you liked Friday’s challenge which was to send gratitude to others by “choosing someone you want to express thanks to for what they’ve done, who they are or what they mean to you. It can be someone you’re close to or someone you may have fallen out of touch with. Let your heart and soul decide.

Then message that person via e-mail or Facebook, text them, make a call or send a note. Once they receive your message, ask them to choose someone to express their gratitude towards and contact them. The goal is to connect as many people as possible with thankfulness and appreciation, keeping the true spirit of the season alive. Let’s see how many cities, states, and countries we can reach and how far our message can spread.”

Since Thanksgiving is Thursday, we hope you’ll make this a weeklong activity. Let family and friends know your gratitude for them. Perform random acts of kindness like smiling at the grocery clerk or saying “Hi” to a neighbor. When someone is thoughtful towards you, show them your appreciation. Did you know that when you are kind or someone is thoughtful towards you, it improves your and their health and mood?  It also has a positive influence on those observing.

Join us on twitter and Facebook for conversation and support in spreading an attitude of gratitude. Best to all of you!

Surviving PPD: The Princess Who Saved Herself

This past weekend, I participated in a training for Mother to Mother, our free volunteer phone support program for pregnant and post-birth moms in Missouri.  One conversation which stood out for me was how surviving postpartum depression (PPD) can help us become stronger and more confident.  Not that anyone would willingly choose this, but sometimes it chooses us.

Experiencing mild depression after my first baby, took me by surprise.  After completing my doctoral degree, getting my psychology license, and seeing 30 clients a week, I thought I could handle anything.  Certainly, motherhood couldn’t be more challenging.  How wrong I was!

As a new mom I doubted myself about many things, including if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.  I felt incompetent, inadequate and that I wasn’t “good enough” to be the mom my daughter deserved.   I thought sleep, self-care and sex were permanently gone.  On bad days I was convinced life as I knew it was over and I’d be trapped in motherhood hell forever.

But gradually, the landscape changed.  Surviving the ups, downs and uncertainties of new motherhood, I emerged feeling stronger and self-assured.  More capable of meeting life’s changes.  Empowered with renewed strength and confidence.

For all moms, including those with PPD,  listen now to “The Princess Who Saved Herself.  It is a reminder and affirmation that while others may help us through  challenging and stressful times, making our way through the darkness is ultimately what saves us.

PPD Recovery and Renewal

I was listening to a mother in our postpartum support group as she described small victories; she was recovering from postpartum depression (PPD) and was feeling good about herself and how far she had come. I wondered why more women don’t celebrate recovery and victory over depression, anxiety, grief, and other emotional challenges.

A few years ago while offering phone support, one mom mentioned that after recovering from PPD, her Mother-in-law said she didn’t like who she’d become. Why was that?  What was different about her? She’d emerged a stronger, more confident woman, able to voice her needs and take care of herself.  A well-fought victory!  We laughed about her mother-in-law’s reaction and celebrated the woman she is now who is so different than when I first spoke to her.

After two personal experiences with PPD, I like the woman and mother I have become. I feel strong for fighting and winning against PPD, to date it is the most difficult thing I have experienced in my life. Now I ask for what I want and take care of my needs. I have self confidence in who I am and my abilities as a mother. That terrible experience molded me into the person I am today. Today, celebrate the woman you are becoming and have become!

Real Moms Geralyn and Linda

Linda Meyer is the Executive Director of Mother to Mother in St. Louis, MO. Mother to Mother offers telephone and group support to women experiencing emotional difficulties during pregnancy and postpartum.

Beyond Self-Care: Hope for Postpartum Depression

Sometimes all a mom needs is hope. When buried under the despair of postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety, it’s hard to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel. The doctor might tell you it’s there, but you don’t see it.

You need proof.

Since there’s no crystal ball to show you the happiness you’ll regain, you have
to get the proof another way. You have to talk to moms who have been there,
living examples of a full recovery from PPD. They exist. In fact, they are
everywhere.

I love connecting moms to others who have been down the same road.  Nearly one million women suffer from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, and I want them to know they are not alone and that they will get better.   I’ve seen many times that all it takes is a few words from a mom who has been there to a mom with PPD, who’s feeling isolated and lost, to realize help is available and that she is worth it.

To offer women with postpartum depression and anxiety  hope and support, I founded Postpartum Progress and Daily Hope, the nation’s first daily support service featuring emails to moms with postpartum depression and anxiety.  Both provide encouragement from survivors, the country’s top perinatal mental health specialists and others who care.  If you or someone you love has PPD, help is only a click away.

Today’s author is Katherine Stone, PPD survivor and spokesperson.