When postnatal / postpartum depression hijacks your motherhood plans

When postnatal / postpartum depression hijacks your motherhood plans

Photo of Rebecca Anderson

“I didn’t want my son to have a meltdown when I was out because I didn’t know if I could handle it”

Unlike most of us, Rebecca Anderson was prepared for postpartum depression. She had struggled with depression most of her life. So, when she fell pregnant with her first baby she put in place mental health measures that most mums don’t even think about.

“I thought I had everything planned out, if things were to go south with my mental health again”

However, postnatal depression was nothing like she had experienced before.

“It was completely different to what I experienced for the 15 years prior to becoming a mum”

In this episode Bec shares with us her story of deep depression and anxiety, and how she attempted to take her own life. She shares how her depression has affected her motherhood journey, and techniques she uses along the way to help support herself.

Bec is a wonderful, bubbly woman. You wouldn’t know she experiences depression by looking at her, or talking to her. Which is why this episode is so important.

Often mums (and dads) can suffer depression after having a baby, but are too afraid to ask for help.

 

In this episode of The Tough Mothers Podcast and Tough Mothers TV you will learn:

  • ✓ Why it is so critical to speak up if you are not feeling OK
  • ✓ How common it actually is to struggle in motherhood
  • ✓ What you can do about it

Hear the full episode. Simply click on your favourite podcast app.

Or hit play and watch the full episode on YouTube.

 

The important take-aways from this episode are:

  • Postpartum depression and anxiety can be different to any other depression you have experienced before  Podcast [3.48], TV [3.18]
  • Know your triggers  Podcast [8.08], TV [7.38]

If you know what will trigger you to spiral, you can actively avoid those things as well as put in place strategies for what to do when you are triggered.

  • Have outlets / releases Podcast [9.22], TV [8.52]

Whether it is exercise, socialising, writing, reading or me-time. Know what works for you to let you take a breath and step away from your situation.

Outlets are imperative in motherhood

  • Breastfeeding can be really hard Podcast [11.30], TV [11.00]

If you want to breastfeed your baby, please remember that breastfeeding can come with its own challenges. Be realistic that it might be harder than you think. Don’t put pressure on yourself. You, and your mental health, are also important in your breastfeeding journey. There is nothing wrong with formula, if it means both you and your baby thrive.

“As soon as he went on formula, I felt I was 20kg lighter.”

  • One of the leading triggers of postpartum depression is that mothers have high expectations of themselves Podcast [11.30], TV [11.00]

We must take the time to set realistic expectations for our motherhood life. Ones that are specific to us, our family and our biology.
The Tough Mothers Motherhood Preparation course helps you plan this.

  • The most important question that needs to be asked in motherhood Podcast [16.47], TV [16.17]

Please ask it often. Out loud and in your head.

  • Struggling in motherhood is more common than you think Podcast [16.47], TV [16.17]

You are not alone. That’s why it is so important to share your truth and your story with other mothers. You never know what someone is going through until you speak to them. talking can help you, and them.

“Every mum has something going on in her life that she doesn’t talk about.”

  • The importance of building up a support network before your baby is born Podcast [24.11], TV [23.41]

It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to raise a mother. Please look at creating your village before your baby is due.

  • How to ask for help when you are afraid or feel you are not “bad enough” – and why this is so important Podcast [24.55], TV [24.25]

There is no such thing as “bad enough”. If you are not feeling OK please ask for help.

  • Dads can struggle during the postpartum period too Podcast [28.18], TV [27.48]

Around one in ten men will experience postnatal depression. We must keep an eye on them, and encourage them to speak up.

  • Techniques that worked for Bec during her postnatal period Podcast [30.53], TV [30.23]

Create your own toolkit of techniques that help you when you are not feeling ok. It is best to create these strategies when you are in an good state of mind. The Tough Mothers Motherhood Preparation course can help you with this.

  • What Bec wants every mum to know Podcast [38.55], TV [38.25]

Motherhood struggles can make women stronger and more confident. Be kind to yourself and others

I would love to hear from you

What insights did you have when you watched this episode?

How could these potentially change your motherhood experience and life?

Leave a comment below and tell us about it! Many mums come here to find support, and your experience or story may help one of them.

Who is one person that would benefit from watching this episode? – Share it with them through the icons at the top of this article 😉

SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW and WIN

Be sure to subscribe to The Tough Mothers Podcast or Tough Mothers TV .

And YOU CAN WIN!

Leave a review for the podcast  or on my YouTube channel, as I draw a random reviewer each month to win an amazing Tough Mothers gift.

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Get all the motherhood support at our village.

Mentions in this episode

The book: I Wish Someone Had Told Me… – unspoken truths about what really happens to women during labour, childbirth and the first few weeks of motherhood
https://www.ToughMothers.com/books

Gidget Foundation Australia
https://www.gidgetfoundation.org.au

Mental Health Support Services

If the topics in this episode are triggering for you, or if you feel you need support, please contact you doctor or local mental health line.

In Australia: www.healthdirect.gov.au
In New Zealand: www.mentalhealth.org.nz
In the USA: www.mhnational.org
In the UK : www.mind.org.uk
In Ireland: www2.hse.ie

In South Africa: www.safmh.org.za

If your country is not listed please search “Mental Health Line” in google in your country.

 

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My baby was 10 days old when he vomited bright yellow milk – he could have died

My baby was 10 days old when he vomited bright yellow milk – he could have died

Exercise 5 - Talk

It is still really hard for me to look at this photo.
Two paediatricins has juts spent an hour trying to find a vein in my baby’s tiny hand for the i.v.

At just 10 days old my baby was rushed to the Sydney Children’s Hospital, by ambulance. It was the worst day of my life.

On his tenth day in the world, our very placid little boy, who rarely cried and was content to just feed, cuddle and sleep, suddenly projectile vomited bright yellow milk (and I mean like highlighter fluorescent yellow). We were all about to go to bed, and it was a while after his last feed, so to say we were startled is an understatement. His vomit was so intense and bright it could have been a scene from a horror movie.

“Take him to emergency immediately”

In my sleep-deprived state (aside from our baby’s newborn feeding schedule, his 21-month old brother decided this was a good time to form an intense relationship with his dummy/pacifier i.e. we were re-plugging it about 12 times a night!), I called the health line. Yes, in hindsight I should have taken him straight to emergency, but I didn’t. I am not going to change the story just so I seem like a more together mother; I am under no illusion.

The nurse on the phone didn’t even need me to finish describing the events before she said: this could be very serious. Please take him to emergency immediately.

I left Hubs at home on dummy re-plugging duty and drove my baby to the local emergency department. It was nearly eight years ago but I remember the trip like it was yesterday. Even just writing about it brings back the sick feeling deep in my gut.

We didn’t spend much time at our local hospital. The words “bright yellow projectile vomit” set off the same alarm bells there as with the health line nurse. Before I knew it, my baby was in an ambulance being rushed to the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

It was surreal.

 

The sick feeling deep in my gut suddenly got worse

Not only was this obviously really, really serious but I couldn’t even go in the ambulance with my baby because I wasn’t allowed to leave my car at the local hospital.

There are no words to describe the feeling of following an ambulance that has your potentially very sick 10-day-old baby on board. I hope you never have to find out.

The Children’s Hospital staff were amazing. In no time my baby was hooked up to all sorts of machines to monitor him. However, they couldn’t find a vein in his tiny body for the i.v. After several attempts, two paediatricians contemplated sticking the i.v. in my baby’s head!

I felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t touch him, so I tried to comfort him with my voice.

He was crying and I could not do anything. It was heartbreaking. I was beside myself and I remember trying so hard to keep it together.

 

We need to operate immediately or he could die

At some stage a nurse brought me a hospital-grade breast pump. While I was pumping away, next to my lethargic baby (in full-view of the whole emergency department – all shame disappears in a crisis) she sat with me and wiped tears from my cheeks with a tissue. She told me gently that because of the colour of his vomit they suspected my baby might have a twisted bowel. They would perform tests but if their suspicions were correct, there was a chance that his intestines could be compromised already.

If they didn’t operate immediately he could die.

iI don’t remember much of what happened next. Except for the cold, dark room where they X-rayed my baby’s tummy after they injected hm with a special dye. I also remember waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the results. All the while my baby was just lying there hooked up to machines and I couldn’t touch him.

We had been away from home for over 24 hours when the news came. His bowel was fine. I felt a lot of things then but nothing greater than the urge to hold my baby. They disconnected him from the machines and I hugged him so tight I think I nearly squashed the tiny, fragile body I couldn’t touch for so long.

 

Not everyone is as lucky as we were

A few months later I received a call from my mum. Alexander, the young baby of a family friend was also projectile vomiting bright yellow milk. His family were going through everything we went through. Something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

Sadly, Baby Alexander’s bowel was twisted. He was very unwell and tragically died.

We still don’t know the reason behind my baby’s yellow projectile vomit, but to be honest I don’t care. I still get to hug my boy daily, something Baby Alexander’s mum will never do again.

I hope by sharing this story even one family will recognise the symptoms in time to save their precious bub’s life.

This article is originally published in babyology.com.au

My book I Wish Someone Had Told Me… – Unspoken truths about what really happens to women during labour, childbirth and the first few weeks of motherhood 
is available NOW. As a special thanks, I have created a sneak peek into the inside of the book for you to enjoy.

 

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 5

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 5

Exercise 5 - Talk

It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth

While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children that was a little more serious. Read the whole story here.

In the lead up to this I had been practising 5 strategies to train my brain for when the sh*t hits the fan, because at some point it definitely will… and it did!

Below is one of these exercises. I encourage you to read the purpose of these exercises and how to practice them effectively by reading the introduction to this series prior to getting into the exercise.

Exercise 5: Talk

Hi there!

 

Congratulations and thank you for getting to the fifth and final strategy of 5 Ways To Train Your Brain For When The Sh*t Hits The Fan.
 
The whole reason I created this series was because the sh*t had hit the fan for me. And I used these exact strategies to navigate my way through it.
 
I then thought perhaps you would benefit from these strategies too (if you missed the previous exercises you can access them HERE.
 
Have you done any of them?
Have they helped?
I would love to hear your feedback. EMAIL ME!

 

Anyway, back to my original sh*t. It was a trivial first-world problem, but it involved one of my kids. If you’re a parent you can no doubt understand why it affected me so much.

 

Mumma Bear came out in full-force, and with one goal: to ferociously protect my cub.
So, while it might seem minor and insignificant to some, it was huge for me.

 

I have talked about the pink fluffy dressing gown photo throughout this series because that is how it all started (you can revisit that story HERE or join our private Tough Mothers group HERE to read the original post).

 

I have also spoken about my condensed milk, straight from the can, highlight… but there is something else that happened before both those things, when the sh*t hit the fan for me.

 

I called my friend, Lydia.

 

Lydia is wonderful mum who I have been lucky enough to build a deep and connected friendship with. In short: she gets me.

 

And I knew she would get my sh*t that day.
So, I rang her in tears and blubbered down the phone to her for at least 20 minutes. Lydia listened. It was just what I needed, and I am so very grateful.

 

Something fabulous happens when we speak out our thoughts and feelings without the intention of the listener fixing the problem for us. We start to trouble-shoot our own problem.

 

Talking to someone you trust is literally like a massive brain-dump. As parents we have so many tabs open in our computer (brain) that speaking out loud is like shutting some of them down.

 

If you have a wonderful listener (like I did) they only need to offer a small opinion or piece of advice (a perspective shift perhaps – see exercise number 3)for things in your mind to change and become clearer.

 

Sometimes it is the sheer act of speaking that lets you create your own perspective shift.

 

This clarity is actually a sign that your brain is rewiring and changing itself. You are using different neural pathways and connections to think things through.

 

I have written about the brain rewiring and changing itself throughout this series, because that is the foundation of the work I do with mothers in our Tough Mothers courses. 

 

Tough Mothers provides holistic support for women during matrescence (the transformation a woman goes through when becoming a mother) and motherhood. It’s where neuroscience and psychology meet philosophy and spirituality (in its true sense), for mothers to create strategies to change their own brain wiring through self-directed neuroplasticity, and create a fulfilling life for themselves.

 

 

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change its own wiring, and to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections/pathways. This allows us to adjust and respond to new situations or environments. Through utilising self-directed neuroplasticity we can intentionally learn (or unlearn) new skills, actions and behaviours.

It sounds much more complex than it is. In fact, it is actually really simple.
Like the exercises in this series. They’re quite simple actually, right?

So, don’t let the science scare you, that just proves it works!

 

BUT BACK TO THE BENEFITS OF TALKING:

 

❤ Studies have shown that speaking your worries and feelings out loud reduces activation in the associated brain regions.

For example, when a person feels scared, their amygdala is activated. This is the region in the brain that alerts the person there might be danger. However, studies have shown that if the person speaks out the word “fear” the amygdala activation is reduced. How cool is that?

So, talking is not just good for getting things off your chest. It literally changes your brain wiring and therefore the neural pathways between key brain areas.

 

❤ Studies have also shown changed brain wiring in people who regularly speak to someone about their worries. They saw neural connections strengthened and a significant amount of improvement in the people’s lives. Even over the long-term.

This leads to less stress and worry, and also to creating more joy. Amongst many other things of course.

Most importantly though, you are teaching your brain how to deal with problems not only in the here-and-now but also in preparation for when another bout of sh*t hits the fan. Which is inevitable. Because, you know,… life

Sometimes when we have immediate sh*t, like mine was, speaking to a friend can have a profound effect. However, if there is recurring, or very serious sh*t in your life, I wholeheartedly recommend speaking to a professional.

This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or your mind, it just means you value your mental health, and you want to get out of the sh*t (no matter how big it is) quicker and more effectively – remember YOU can rewire your brain with the right strategies.

If you feel that life is not quite what you hoped it would be at this point in motherhood. Or you would like to create strategies for your journey through matrescence. Or you just want to feel better within yourself (you’re allowed to, by the way!).

Please accept a complimentary chat with me, Dr Jen, HERE.

I GET YOU!

I’m a mother of 3, and am in the throes of motherhood. My unique background in psychotherapy and 25 years of brain research (I have a PhD in neuroscience), as well as working in this space with mothers for over 10 years, means I truly get you.

I hope that you continue to use the strategies in this series not only when the sh*t hits the fan but also in every-day life. Because when you change your brain you change your life.

 

 Life is too short for “that’ll do!”.

Use motherhood as the catalyst to create the fulfilling life you deserve to live.

Love,

 

This is the last exercise in this series.

 

I will be bringing more info and tips to you via this blog. So, be sure to check back regularly, or sign up to get my blogs straight to your inbox as soon new ones land.

 

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 4

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 4

It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth

While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children that was a little more serious. Read the whole story here.

In the lead up to this I had been practising 5 strategies to train my brain for when the sh*t hits the fan, because at some point it definitely will… and it did!

Below is one of these exercises. I encourage you to read the purpose of these exercises and how to practice them effectively by reading the introduction to this series prior to getting into the exercise.

Exercise 4: Nurture Yourself

As mothers, we spend so much time nurturing our children, that we often forget to look after ourselves. Or maybe we just don’t have enough time.

Or… maybe we don’t make it a priority (I am definitely guilty of that!).

However, when the sh*t hits the fan, we can use it as a tap on our shoulder to remind ourselves that this is exactly what we need to do: nurture ourselves.

A good way to start this is to speak to yourself as you would to one of your children, if they were sad or in a crisis. Be kind and gentle.

Ask questions, such as:

  1. What are you feeling right now?
  2. What can you do for yourself in this moment to make yourself feel held and looked after?

They may seem like simple questions, but you need to give yourself permission to dig deep with your answers and be really curious. The more you can tap into yourself, the better your answers will be.

Then DO whatever came up for you in question 2!

Imagine you are wanting to give yourself a big cuddle.

How would that look for you?

For me, on the day of the great pink dressing gown incident (a reminder of that highlight of my life (NOT!) HERE), I really needed something sweet to eat. So, I dived into a can of condensed milk.

Mainly because that is all I could find in the pantry. But, oh mama, did it hit the spot!

I didn’t eat the whole can, ha ha ha, and I don’t always have sweets when the sh*t hits the fan for me, but on this day it was just what I needed. 

#Motherhood truths

Other days, I exercise – sometimes it is a vigorous run or workout, other days it’s a long slow walk with my dog. It really depends on what I feel I need. That’s why it is imperative for you to tap into yourself (which the previous 3 strategies in this series will have helped you to learn. Revisit them HERE).

Ask yourself questions like the two above, as if you are your parent or your best friend.

Below are examples that may inspire some ideas of how you can nurture yourself.

You deserve it Mama!

Self-Nurturing Ideas

  • Eat something yummy
  • Drink something you love (preferably not alcohol!)
  • Watch something interesting, inspiring or encouraging
  • Take a walk
  • Listen to some music or a podcast
  • Run, hit the gym or dance
  • Have a warm relaxing bath
  • Read a good book
  • Meditate
  • Bake or cook something you enjoy

NB: please do not overindulge in any of the “treats” listed. They are called treats for a reason.

The brain loves you nurturing yourself. It recognises it as a reward (there’s a hint there!*) and activates the reward centre of your brain.

Thereby the neurotransmitter dopamine is released which will make you feel more positive, energised and give you a feeling of achievement.

It might even make you feel a little bit happy *wink*

Also, new neurons are being wired together (in other words new neural pathways are created) because you are training your brain in new ways with your thoughts and actions. This will strengthen your brain to remember to nurture yourself again and again, creating a wonderful make-yourself-feel-good loop.

At this point, I would just like to say that all feelings are worth feeling. Making yourself feel good should not always be the end goal. Living in constant happiness is unrealistic. There are many lessons and much growth in feelings other than the ones we label as “positive”.

Please get familiar with them. Acknowledge them. Explore them. Just make the conscious decision to not live there.

 

Nobody is coming to save you!

You must look after yourself; for yourself and your children.

Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself, nurture yourself, and put yourself first.

You deserve it, and your brain will thank you for it too.

Love,

 

 

This is exercise 4 of 5. I will share each exercise one at a time, so you have plenty of time to implement it, and start training your brain. So, be sure to check my blog regularly, or sign up to get priority access.

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 3

5 ways to train your brain: Exercise 3

It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth

While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children that was a little more serious. Read the whole story here.

In the lead up to this I had been practising 5 strategies to train my brain for when the sh*t hits the fan, because at some point it definitely will… and it did!

Below is one of these exercises. I encourage you to read the purpose of these exercises and how to practice them effectively by reading the introduction to this series prior to getting into the exercise.

Exercise 3: Reframe

Homeschooling has never been on my bucket list.

I know for many it is a beautiful thing, even imperative, but for me? Nope. No way!

I am an impatient teacher at the best of times – just ask my younger brother how it went that one time I tried to teach him how to drive a car, all those years ago.

So, when Covid-19 hit and we were all suddenly confined to our homes and schoolwork was being sent home, I freaked!

I was expected to teach my three kids, who are in three different years at primary school?

OMG!

Suddenly, I really had to utilise the brain training technique of reframing. I always practice what I preach after all.

Reframing = the science of deliberately changing your perspective.

Reframing is the science of deliberately changing your perspective. I say it is a science, because what is happening is that by deliberately changing our perspective, old neural pathways (the way our brain communicates with regions) are changed, and new ones are created.

WHICH BRAIN REGIONS ARE AFFECTED?

This really is determined by what it is we are reframing. However, I would like to give a shout out to the orbitolateral cortex and lateral prefrontal cortex (don’t worry, you don’t need to remember their names!) as they play a big role in identifying thoughts and changing them.

You can’t reframe without consciousness.

Where consciousness resides in the brain is still heavily debated, but you know, as well as I do, that it exists. And if you have practised exercises 1 and 2 in this series (HERE they are again if you missed them) you will know how to be truly conscious.

When the sh*t has hit the fan, it is up to you to be conscious of your thoughts so you can reframe them. This takes practise!

Practising reframing will strengthen your brain, i.e. your new neural pathways.

So, the next time you are faced with something that sends your thoughts into a spin, leading to unease, your brain will be trained. It will be quicker to recognise your thinking and reframe it. Which in turn strengthens your neural pathways.

It is a wonderful positive feedback loop!

4 easy ways to start training your brain to reframe

1. Become conscious of your thoughts to the situation. I mean become truly curious.

a. Why is this affecting me in such a way?
b. What are my beliefs around this situation that could be affecting my perspective?

2. Question your assumptions of what is happening and what this could mean – what events from my past could bring out these thoughts in this instance?

3. Accept the situation – Reframing is not a Pollyanna way of looking at the world. There is no denial involved in reframing. However, resisting facts will lead you nowhere fast – by this I mean true facts, not your interpretation of what is.

4. Purposely look at the situation from a different angle ie. perspective. Imagine moving around the situation like a fashion photographer does around a model; all different angles. Imagine being someone else (a real person you know) looking at the same situation.

a. What would they think?
b. What are the facts here?
c. Are there positives in this situation?
d. Could you learn something?

 

So, when it came to my homeschooling dilemma I revisited these steps. I had to.

What emerged is that it is not actually the homeschooling that was the problem but rather the time I now didn’t have to work on Tough Mothers

I love my business. Teaching mothers about matrescence (the transformation a woman goes through when she becomes a mother), their own brain and how women can train their brain to make permanent improvements in their life to become truly fulfilled, is my passion. Being dragged away from it was heart-breaking.

However, when I implemented the above steps, I remembered that this situation is only temporary (they will go back to school one day!). I also remembered how lucky we are to be healthy and safe (actually, once I looked at the facts I felt incredibly self-centred and entitled to be upset about something so small, when for many people the situation is much, much worse).

In the end, I accepted the situation. And miraculously homeschooling was not so bad after all (just to be clear though it is still not on my bucket list, and it never looked anything like this photo). At one point, my kids even said I am a pretty good teacher…. What the?!?

“Once I looked at the facts I felt incredibly self-centred and entitled to be upset about something so small”

Note to self: must look more into the belief that I am an impatient teacher!

Please don’t think reframing only works in trivial situations like homeschooling or my pink dressing gown incident (Check out our private Facebook group The Tough Mothers Village here to read about that doozy).

Dr Viktor Frankl utilised this technique while in Nazi concentration camps. His best-selling book Man’s Search For Meaning is a must read for anyone, and particularly if you want to see how reframing works on a much larger scale.

Now it’s your turn!

Reframing is a powerful gift you can give yourself and your brain.

Love,

 

 

This is exercise 3 of 5. I will share each exercise one at a time, so you have plenty of time to implement it, and start training your brain. So, be sure to check my blog regularly, or sign up to get priority access.

5 Ways To Train Your Brain For When the Sh*t Hits The Fan

5 Ways To Train Your Brain For When the Sh*t Hits The Fan

It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth

While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children, that was a little more serious.

It caught me completely off-guard. Mama Bear came out in full-force. But first I had a cry, put on my pink fluffy dressing gown over my clothes (it was a cold day but I was feeling particularly cold after the news) and opened a can of condensed milk. 

When the sh*t hits the fan, a situation suddenly causes a lot of trouble

Offensive.
(sorry about that!)

Cambridge Dictionary

I sat there spooning the condensed milk into my mouth (it was the only sweet we had in the house ?) and felt all the feelings.

After a short while I realised I had two choices:

  1. I could shovel the whole can of condensed milk into my mouth (NB: I have done this once before and DO NOT recommend it. You have been warned!)
  2. I could utilise the brain training techniques I know, to navigate myself through this sh*t.

In case you have never heard of me or ToughMothers, our whole work is dedicated to supporting women during the transition into motherhood and beyond (or matrescence, as it is officially known). We teach mothers about their own brain and mind, and help them create strategies they can use to change their own brain and wiring, to create a fulfilling life.

At Tough Mothers neuroscience and psychology meet philosophy and spirituality (in the true sense of the word) to support mothers holistically during matrescence.

I have a PhD in Medicine (Neuroscience and Pharmacology) and a degree in Psychotherapy, but most of all I am a mum. 

I was feeling lost and unfulfilled in motherhood. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my kids and my husband, but I didn’t particularly like my life, or the person I became during my transition into motherhood. I was stressed and anxious all the time. I had lost my sense of self, and I was scared that life would just be like this forever: challenging, exhausting, relentless and unfulfilling.

Unsatisfied with this, I used my 25 years of brain and mind research knowledge and set off to learn more and change my own brain.

It worked!

It sounds so much more sciencey and nutty than it actually it is. It is simply understanding your brain-mind-body-life connection and getting them to work for you rather than against you ?

You may have heard of the term neuroplasticity?
It’s the amazing ability of the brain to change itself and its wiring.
For example, how you can train yourself, i.e. your brain, to ride a bike.

Similarly, you can train your brain in other aspects of your life. For example, to change your thinking and reactions to certain situations. This is exactly what we do at Tough Mothers.

But I digress. Back to my can of condensed milk.

I had to dig deep that day (pun intended), but I used strategies I had previously been practising to change the situation. Don’t get me wrong, the news I received hadn’t changed, just my reaction and subsequent actions changed. It was a massive win!

So, I posted about it on Facebook (as you do, of course!) and ended it with:

“When the shit hits the fan make sure your neural (brain) foundation is stronger than ALL the shit. #TrainYourBrain”

You can read the whole post in our private Facebook group The Tough Mothers Village

I had so many enquiries from our wonderful members about what training your brain involved, that I decided to share 5 strategies I used in this instance, in a free series called 5 Ways To Train Your Brain For When The Sh*t Hits The Fan.

Because when the sh*t hits the fan, the best thing you can do is make sure your brain is prepared.

HOW?

Train your brain.

You have to think of your brain as being like a muscle. Your muscle has to be strong in order to be ready to lift. You wouldn’t walk into a gym without having lifted weights, and pick up a 40kg dumbbell, would you?

Instead you would start with a much lighter weight and increase it as you get stronger and stronger, until you feel you can lift a 40kg weight without trouble. It is the same for the brain.

The 5 simple exercises I outlined in this series are small steps to start growing and strengthening your brain. By practising these techniques you will create and strengthen neural pathways that are imperative in remaining cool, calm and collected during times of stress.

With enough repetition, over time, you will literally change your brain. So, when the time comes and the sh*t hits the fan your reaction will be noticeably different compared to if you hadn’t trained your brain.

When I say noticeably, I mean you will literally notice that your reaction is different to how it used to be, or how you would have expected it to be.

Over the next few weeks, I will share each of the 5 strategies in this blog, so be sure to check back in regularly or sign up below to get the exercises straight to your Inbox.

Please do them. They have the potential to change your life!

Love,

 

 

PS. I’d love to hear about your experience, so please comment below.

 

I will share each strategy one at a time, so you have plenty of time to implement each one, and start training your brain. So, be sure to check my blog regularly, or sign up to get priority access.