Why boundaries are important as a Mum

From the moment children enter your life you become stretched thin. All your time, energy, emotional bandwidth, finances everything gets stretched. It’s easy when this happens for boundaries to become blurred or even worse forgotten.

Boundaries are essential for maintaining balance, preserving mental and emotional well-being, and fostering healthy relationships..

They are the invisible lines we draw to protect our physical, emotional, and mental space. They define what is acceptable and unacceptable in our interactions with others. For mums, boundaries are crucial for maintaining a sense of autonomy, self-respect, and sanity amidst the demands of parenting.

So why do we need them?

As a mum, it’s natural to prioritize the needs of your children and family. However, neglecting your own needs can lead to burnout, resentment, and diminished well-being. Setting boundaries allows you to carve out time for self-care, hobbies, recharging your batteries.

(And boundaries teach your children valuable lessons about respect, empathy, and healthy relationships!)

Types of Boundaries for Mums:

  1. Time Boundaries: Establishing designated “me-time” for self-care activities such as exercise, hobbies, or relaxation.
  2. Emotional Boundaries: Recognizing and honouring your emotions, while also setting limits on how much emotional labor you’re willing to take on.
  3. Physical Boundaries: Communicating your need for personal space and physical comfort, especially when it comes to cuddles, hugs, or personal belongings.
  4. Social Boundaries: Being selective about social engagements and setting limits on your availability for socializing to prevent overwhelm.

Tips for Setting Boundaries:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Reflect on what’s important to you and where you need to set boundaries to safeguard your well-being.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Express your boundaries assertively yet kindly, using “I” statements to convey your needs without blame or guilt.
  3. Be Consistent: Enforce your boundaries consistently to establish a clear message and reinforce respect for your limits.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: It’s okay to say no and prioritize your needs. Remember that setting boundaries is an act of self-care, not selfishness.
  5. Seek Support: Surround yourself with understanding friends, family members, or support groups who respect your boundaries and offer encouragement.

Enforcing Boundaries: Enforcing boundaries can be challenging, especially when met with resistance or pushback from loved ones. However, staying firm and consistent is essential for maintaining your self-respect and preserving your well-being. Remember that setting boundaries is not about controlling others but rather about honoring your own needs and values.

As a mum, setting boundaries is not only important for you but also your family. By prioritizing self-care and asserting your needs, you create a healthier and more balanced environment for everyone.

January Blues

January arrives, and with it comes a wave of emotions that might not match the festive cheer of the preceding months. The January blues, often felt after the whirlwind of the holiday season, can leave you feeling a bit down, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s a feeling lots of us share as we move from the festive Christmas period into the New year.

Embracing the Transition

The shift from Christmas into the routine of everyday life can be jarring. Even though lots of us cannot wait to put the Xmas dec’s away and have a sense of order return (or is that just me?!) it does leave the house looking empty and a bit flat.

Weathering the Seasonal Changes

January brings cold weather, shorter days, and longer nights. The lack of sunlight and the winter chill can impact mood and energy levels. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons, is common during this time. The reduced exposure to natural light can affect the body’s internal clock, leading to feelings of fatigue and sadness.

Coping Strategies for January Blues

Acknowledging and addressing these feelings is the first step in managing the January blues. Here are some strategies that may help navigate this emotional phase:

  1. Self-Care Rituals: Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that bring comfort and joy. Whether it’s reading a favorite book, taking long walks, practicing mindfulness, or enjoying a warm bath, these rituals can provide solace during the transition.
  2. Setting Realistic Goals: Embrace the new year by setting achievable goals. However, it’s crucial to be realistic and kind to oneself. Small, manageable goals can bring a sense of accomplishment without overwhelming pressure.
  3. Seeking Light: Combat the effects of reduced daylight by spending time outdoors, opening curtains to let natural light in, or using light therapy lamps, which mimic natural sunlight and can alleviate symptoms of SAD.
  4. Connecting with Others: Maintain social connections. Reach out to friends and family for support. Engaging in social activities or volunteering can uplift spirits and create a sense of community.
  5. Mindful Practices: Incorporate mindfulness or meditation into daily routines. These practices can help manage stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of calm and clarity.

Embracing Positivity in the New Year

Remember, the January blues are transient. This phase will pass, and brighter days lie ahead. Embrace this time as an opportunity for reflection, growth, and new beginnings. The start of a new year presents a chance to set intentions, pursue passions, and embark on new adventures.

Let’s navigate the January blues with compassion for ourselves. Acknowledging these feelings and implementing self-care strategies can foster resilience and pave the way for a fulfilling year ahead. So, as January unfolds, let’s embrace the journey and welcome the possibilities that lie ahead.

New Years Resolutions and your mental health….

Did you know New Year’s resolutions and mental health are closely linked?  I am tempted to just say ‘ Dont even bother doing them’ but that would make a very short blog post wouldn’t it?  And to be fair setting and achieving goals can have a significant impact on your well-being.

However, it’s important to approach New Year’s resolutions with mindfulness and consideration of your mental health. Personally I like to have a theme for the year and try and weave that into whatever I am doing throughout the year. Last years word was ‘enhance’. I just wanted to try and raise everything I did up a notch. Did I acheive it? Well the honest answer is; sometimes. And I am ok with that. My word this year is Excitement!

If setting resolutions as your thing here are my top tips for making resolutions that promote good mental health…

  1. Set Realistic Goals: Make sure your resolutions are attainable and not overly ambitious. Unrealistic goals can lead to feelings of failure and increased stress. Start with small, achievable steps.
  2. Prioritize Self-Care: Include resolutions that prioritize self-care practices, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise. Physical health has a profound impact on mental health.
  3. Focus on Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Consider making a resolution to find a therapist to support your mental well-being.
  5. Social Connections: Resolve to strengthen your social connections and build a supportive network. Maintaining healthy relationships can positively impact your mental health.
  6. Be Kind to Yourself: Self-compassion is essential. Instead of being overly critical when you face setbacks, practice self-compassion and treat yourself with understanding and patience.
  7. Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use a goal-tracking app to monitor your progress. Celebrate your achievements and use setbacks as learning opportunities rather than reasons for self-criticism.
  8. Stay Flexible: Be willing to adapt your resolutions as needed. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes it’s necessary to modify your goals to better align with your current circumstances.
  9. Set Mental Health Goals: Consider setting specific mental health-related goals, such as managing stress, reducing anxiety, or developing resilience. These goals can help you focus on your emotional well-being.
  10. Connect with Supportive Communities: Join support groups or online communities focused on mental health. Sharing your experiences and learning from others can be beneficial.
  11. Monitor Perfectionism: Be mindful of perfectionistic tendencies. Striving for perfection can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Aim for progress, not perfection.

Remember that New Year’s resolutions are not a one-size-fits-all and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to approach your resolutions with self-awareness and a focus on what will genuinely promote your mental well-being. If you find that your resolutions are causing more stress or anxiety, it’s okay to adjust or abandon them. Your mental health should always be a top priority.

 

And the award for best actress goes to….

 

I feel like an actress most days.

 

A client said that to me the other day. That she feels like an actress playing a part of a women who has it all together when inside it’s a whole different story. I really resonated with that.

 

After I had Bella I took a year off but I agreed to take a few meetings with one or two key clients  just to keep my hand in over the year. The first meeting I did was when Bella was around 3 months old. I felt like absolute shit. I was by this point in the grips of what was to become a year long anxiety battle but I went anyway.  Mainly because one of my anxieties was about not being at work but that’s a whole other story!

I stuck on some heels and a semi smart top and stuck some make up on my face and off I went. I still remember it today 8 years later. We met at a hotel in Kings Cross and when I walked in, I felt nervous. For context I had been in my job 13 years when I went off to have Bella. I hadn’t felt nervous for a meeting in YEARS. And this was with a long standing client and my boss who I considered friends. And yet here I was.

I stuck a smile on my face and walked in. The first thing my boss said as he turned to my client was ‘See she looks amazing’. I don’t think he was talking about my weight, just my general attitude and overall look. I guess I looked like my ‘old’ pre baby self.

But I was far from it. The lipstick and the heels were doing a great job of masking what I was feeling inside.  I was happy to have a window into my old life, to sit in posh hotels and wear nice clothes again but I didn’t feel like the old me. I was tired, missing my baby, feeling guilty for being even  a bit happy that I was away and anxious that I didn’t know what I was doing anymore and I would get caught out.

I was also starting to do that thing that anxious people do. I was going inwards with my thinking. Running a monologue in my head that meant I wasn’t really focused on the meeting and what was being said.

I did the meeting and rushed to get the train home.  I had played the part of my old life and the old me for a few hours and now it was back to the new life and the new me.

New Year new Who?

New year new who?

 

Right about now people the world over are realising that they have fallen at the first hurdle. Maybe having that glass of wine when you said you wouldn’t. Missing the gym session or eating the crisps.

I have never believed in New years resolutions. In fact, I HATE new year’s altogether. New year’s resolutions are destined to fail because you are trying to be someone you are not. If on the 31st of Dec you were not the sort of person who gets up at 6 to go to the gym or the sort of person who always leaves the kitchen tidy before bed then why would you suddenly be that person when you wake on the 1st of Jan?

 

It doesn’t make sense. All it does is set you up to fail and to feel like shit because of it.

 

But wait…..

 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals, things we want to achieve, we just need to take into account our personality types, our current season of life (more on that in a minute) and most importantly WHY we want to achieve this thing.

I find the best way to look at a new year is to have a key word. For example, your word might be HEALTH. Not about losing weight or dieting just overall being healthier.

What does that look like for you? How will you know when you have achieved it?

The next step is to think about what SMALL changes you can make that move you towards that overall aim. If the season of life you are in currently is one of babies and small children at home, is it realistic to think you can get to the gym? If it is, then great but the reality is you probably cannot. So what small step can you do that will help you move towards that goal.

Its FAR easier to complete one small step each day than try to suddenly become someone you are not overnight.

An MOT for the mind…

My car went in for it’s MOT last week. It passed thank goodness but when they handed my the info when I went to get the car it made me think. Having therapy is a bit like having an MOT for the mind.

When you have an MOT on your car they let you know if you have advisories. These are things on the car which whilst they are not bad enough to fail the MOT they do need looking at.

When a client comes to therapy I am the mechanic that’s going to pop the hood and have a look inside.  We can have a look at which thoughts and beliefs are working well for you. Ones that  are helpful and supportive. Those we can give  a ‘Pass’ to.

Then there will be some ‘advisories’. Thoughts and beliefs that have perhaps gone a bit rusty or gotten a bit twisted. So they are no longer working properly for you.  Those we need to pay attention to.

And finally there will be those thoughts that are not helpful at all. Beliefs which are not helping you to move forward in life and achieve your goals. These would be given a fail and need removing.

Do you think you could do with an MOT for your mind? Perhaps we should all be booking in for a yearly MOT!

 

 

Riding the wave of emotion

Emotions are valuable things, even the ones that leave you paralysed with fear or so raw and broken you don’t know if you will ever recover. They offer you lots of benefits once you know how to process them properly.

Because your emotions are always telling you something. They are natures way of spurring you

into some form of action.

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how you feel because you can’t name the emotion. Whilst I don’t think we need to get to caught up in words it’s good to know that sometimes we might use a word to describe how we feel without realising the emotion it relates to.

I believe that knowledge is power. In order to gain a better understanding of our emotions and gain more control of them, stop them becoming overwhelming we need to start with naming them properly. This is also really helpful if you are someone who struggles with talking about how you feel.

For example sometimes we might say we feel annoyed, livid, furious, irritated. All of these words relate to the emotion of Anger.

If we feel agitated, bothered, fretful, jumpy, nervy, panicky, tense, uneasy or worried then the emotion would Anxiety.

How about humiliated, undignified, mortified or discredited? These all relate to the emotion of shame.

But where do emotions come from?

First comes the thought then follows the emotion. Our thoughts determine our feelings. If you think about the feelings associated with excitement; tingly, fluttery tummy, hot flush? The same feelings are associated with anxiety. The only difference is the thought.

If we gain better control over our thoughts it’s the building block to gaining control over our emotions.

Asking yourself these questions

Anxiety – What am I scared of?

Sadness- What have I lost?

Anger- How have my values been attacked?

Happiness – what have I gained?

Guilt – what personal rule have I broken?

Once you know how to label your emotions you can start to practice a technique called riding the wave. Imagine your feelings are a like large waves and rather than trying to push the wave back you embrace it. Let it wash over you. Name it and accept it. Acknowledge that this wave is temporary.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

One tiny word with a mighty punch.

The word should is such a small seemingly innocent little word but it packs a lot of punch.  This is the dictionary definition of it: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

It brings with it a boat load of guilt and unrealistic expectations. Have a think about the last time you used the word ‘should’ I bet you say it more often that you realise.

 

When you hear yourself say ‘I should have tried harder to breast feed’ or even ‘I shouldn’t have shouted at my toddler’ how does that make you feel when you say those words? I am going to guess its not a great feeling. As soon as we say I should have, or I should not have it immediately implies we have done something wrong which then leads to a feeling of guilt.

 

When we use the word Should it has the opposite effect. Imagine saying to yourself ‘I should do the washing’ how does that make you feel? Does it make you feel more like doing it or less like it?

The same goes for the words ‘have to’ they also carry a load of unrealistic expectation.

So, let’s try a little experiment. Let us try changing a few words and see if that changes how we feel.

Let us change should for could.

So ‘I should be making home made food for my children all the time’ becomes ‘I could be making homemade food every day for my children, but I accept that’s not always going to be possible’. Does that feel different?

Or even

I could be making home made food for my children every night, but I am choosing to spend my time doing other things.

This takes back your power. Your choice. It eliminates the feelings of guilt and the weight of expectation.

Think of this scenario. You are feeling resentful because you don’t feel as though your partner is helping you out enough at home or with your children. Have a think of the way the conversation would go if you started with ‘You SHOULD be helping me more’. What do you think their reply will be?

Now imagine saying ‘I would love it if you COULD help me more around the house or with the children’. Do you think that would go any better?

Give it a go and let me know if you see a difference in how you feel but just changing one tiny word.

New Year New you? All bullshit right?

So here we go it’s nearly the end of the year and it’s that time when we all start talking about New Years resolutions. We all have the best of intentions to stick to that diet or to go to the gym every day but by mid Jan its all over and we feel rubbish because we feel like we failed. Sound familiar?

I know in years gone by there have been many a NYE where I have pledged that THIS is the year I’m going to give up drinking or THIS is the year I am going to get fit and it never happened.

So a few years ago I changed tack. I gave myself an over arching goal. Each year I assign a topic or a goal so for example my goal for this year is WELLNESS. Now I can already hear you saying ‘but is this not just another way of saying diet?’ well you would be right that food plays a part but for me this goal is bigger than that.  I am looking at my overall Wellness and making small changes around my diet, my water intake and exercise but it’s much more than that. I want to try lots of new things this year around supporting not just my physical wellness but also my mental health. Some I might try and stick with because I dont like them but others I will love.

Other areas you could focus on might be

A year of Travel

Now I realise in these current times this one might be tricky but if this was your goal you could start just by reading up on the places you would most like to visit. You might then start by listing places within your own country that you have never seen but would love to. You might want to look into learning a foreign language.

A year of Education

I have done this one before. It doesn’t have to mean going back to college or Uni ( but for some it might) it may just be taking free courses on line in something that interests you.

A year of Money

This could be getting in control of your finances. Starting by looking in depth at your bank statements, breaking down your bills and seeing where costs can be made. Booking an appointment at the bank and seeing where you can be saving better. If you have money to play with this might include looking at investments or buying a home.

A year of Relationships

Full disclosure the first time I ever did a Year Of… was around this topic. I had been single for some time and I decided this was the year I was going to throw myself into dating. I joined online dating sites and committed to being consistent in using them. And it worked because I met my partner that year! But for you it might mean reassessing relationships, looking at what needs work.

A year of My Home

You might want to look at improving your home or even moving house. Reading up on people like Marie Kondo and watching documentaries like the Minimalists on Netflix around how to de clutter your life and down size. Or maybe you want to renovate so creating pinterest boards and a time scale and budget.

So that’s how I do NYE resolutions. If you call it YOUR YEAR OF….. then you cant fail because it’s not an all or nothing situation.

Pop me a comment or a message on social media and let know what your Year of is!

 

 

This is why I bloody LOVE what I do!

I LOVE what I do. When a new client walks into my room or pops up on my screen I never know where the next weeks or months are going to take to take us. I have no idea what is going to transpire. But what I DO know is I can help. I can nudge, and prod and help steer the ship through the choppy waters. We will collaborate to work together in your road to wellness.

 

And sometimes I get e mails like this which remind why it’s so worthwhile and rewarding.

“I met with Andrea at a time where I was not sure what sort of help I needed. I had never seen anyone for advice about my mental health previously but had been through a difficult fertility journey and two premature babies, both of whom were complicated. It turned out that I only needed a sympathetic ear and someone to listen to what I had been through. Andrea created a safe place for me to tell my journey and empathised with everything that I had been through. Her personal experiences meant that I truly felt she understood what I had been through. She offered me practical, sensible advice that enabled me to understand the thoughts that had been upsetting me and how to deal with them in future. I am so grateful to have met her and feel better able to move on with my life now.”

 

If you are reading this now and feel like you are not even sure whether you need help but you feel like something is ‘off’ or you just haven’t felt ‘right’ for a while then pop me a message and let’s chat. It may be that all you need is one session to get your story out and be heard.

 

Andrea x