Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughts from my workshop

I recently directed a workshop for the Power of Moms about "Taking Care of the 'Me' in the Mom." We had a great time and had some wonderful discussions about our basic human needs as women. I wanted to share some highlights and reference a few of the articles on the Power of Mom's website that I used in my workshop for those of you who couldn't attend:

"Mommy is a Person" is an article written by the co-founder of Power of Moms, April Perry, and the one article I recommend the most. She says that we, as mothers, need to remember three important tips to make sure we're taking care of ourselves:

1. Deep down, we need to think of ourselves as people. "We know that if we really want to have the stamina, enthusiasm, and patience to raise great children, we need to take care of ourselves first."

2. All people get to do certain things: Use the restroom, take a shower, exercise, read, think, snuggle with their spouse, dream...it's okay to make time to do these things without feelings guilty!

3. Your goal is to be better than "sane." WHAT DO YOU NEED TO THRIVE? (I love that last question. Still trying to nail down a solid answer for that one...)

We discussed the "Five Facets" of our well-being: mental, spiritual, physical, social, and emotional. We spent a lot of time on our social well-being, since that has been on my mind and apparently on the minds of the mothers present at my workshop. Here's some interesting facts that I pulled from my current read Depression is Contagious:

-According to the World Health Organization, depression is currently the fourth greatest cause of human suffering and disability around the world. Women experience depression at nearly twice the rate of men in the U.S.

-"Science is confirming what we have probably always known in our hearts: We are built to be in positive, meaningful relationships with others in order to feel good.... "People who enjoy close friendships and the support of others are happier and more productive. They also suffer fewer illnesses and, on average, live longer."

-"How people develop their best selves is largely, though not entirely, achieved in the context of positive relationships with other people.... Your mood and outlook are powerfully influenced by your relationships with others."

-Yet knowing this, "large studies of the prevalence of various disorders in the general population show rates of depression nearly four times higher than a generation ago and nearly ten times as high as two generations ago..." In a world where the population is rising, we are becoming more and more isolated as individuals.

Now, I have a LOT to say on the topic of "depression"--which I use as a loose term that covers both mild and severe cases--but for now I'll keep it simple:

I faced my first battle with depression shortly after my second child was born and it literally knocked me off my feet. As I battled with the decision to start taking an anti-depressant or not, I had an "awakening" to the prevalence of depression one day in a Chick-fil-a restaurant. I was in my sweats with no make-up and a pony-tail and needless to say, not feeling so hot. As my kids ran wild in the play area, I found myself eavesdropping on the conversation between a group of young mothers at the table next to me. One was describing the side-effects of her new anti-depressant that she switched to after she had a new baby. The woman sitting next to her started describing the anti-depressant she uses and they all chimed in, each one having their own experience with medication for depression.

Suddenly I realized how common this issue is, especially amongst women--especially amongst moms! Ever since, I have been on a mission to learn as much as I can about the roots of this issue and how I can find my own personal formula to "depression-proof" my life. As I said, I will share more of my personal experience (and formula) later, but I do know that relationships are a HUGE part of the cure. Our relationships with our spouses, our families, our children and EACH OTHER.

I can't say it enough. I believe that mothers need strong friendships almost as much as they need food and sleep. It's just that important. We need to visit one another, share our triumphs and our failures, laugh about the potty accidents in the middle of Target and eat SUGAR together as friends. It's too easy to isolate ourselves and assume everyone else is better. It's too easy to compare ourselves and judge one another and put each other down.  

We don't need to compete, we need to connect.

(Some of my best friends for over a decade now...)

Here's few more links:
*We talked about the need for NAPS (just 20 minutes a day could make a huge difference in your productivity!) and how to sneak them into your daily routine.
*We talked about making time for exercise and eating well AND the importance of accepting our bodies.
*We learned about Thought Replacement Therapy and how much our thoughts affect our behavior.
*We were reminded of the need to avoid the "compare snare" and to be our own kind of mother.

I hope you can benefit from this! I have a terrible head cold and my head is feeling "fuzzy" (name that movie?). I sure hope I didn't ramble, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. Love all you mothers.
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  1. YOU'VE GOT MAIL!!! (duh!) i love that picture of us and the entire sentiment of that post. good reminder.

  2. Thanks so much Janelle! I did fine after I had Lucy, but you never know after this 2nd baby comes, so it's a good heads up to know I won't be alone. so grateful for our friendship and your example as a mother!

  3. I love this! You are so great. I need to bring you dinner!!

  4. "You've Got Mail"! Do I win a prize? I could hear the nasal cold in your typed word "fuzzy". Ha! I loved all you had to say here--well, the part I skimmed...I will read the rest later when I'm not interrupted by kiddos. By the sounds of it, my few minutes on the computer today have expired. But I loved and (almost) agreed with every word I DID get to read. (More on that later when I find the chance to call you and get to have a conversation longer than 4 minutes...ha!) Love you, sweet girl!

  5. I have to tell you Janelle, that I have mentioned this post to a few of my girlfriends in the last week. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately and you hit so many nails on their heads for me. xoxo

  6. Sometimes I make my husband read your posts. I agree with the above comment, this post is definitely recommendation worthy!!

    I too severely struggled with post-partum blues after my second was born. So bad that I desparately want to have a third, but just can't bring myself to do it! Reading this post gives me a new perspective that as moms, we all struggle...I'm not the only kid on the block finding it hard!! Also, I need a network of friends, I never fully recognized this until now!! Who knew...FRIENDS!!

    You rock Janelle.

    -Anneke, Montana