Best Advice Ever- Motherhood 100th Episode!

 

When I was approached by Web Talk Radio, over two years ago, and asked to do a web radio show for them on parenting and motherhood, I was surprised, to say the least! Why me? I had no idea how to host a radio show! How on earth would I make time for a weekly radio program? Would anyone even listen? Would I be able to help more people this way? Was this something I should actually do?

After much thought, family discussion, and humbling prayer, the answer was clear: Yes. This is something you need to do. Looking back, I’m so grateful they saw some spark of potential and reached out and trained me, because even though I’ve since taken the show out on my own, WebTalkRadio started me on this path I would have never otherwise taken, and now “Motherhood” radio/TV is celebrating its 100th episode!

 

Motherhood Radio/TV–100th Episode!

It’s been hard work, with a steep learning curve, but I have loved every minute of it. I love coming up with topics based on what you tell me you need to hear. I love meeting incredible, enlightening guests who have so much to teach me and our listeners. I especially love the listeners, who share their experiences with me–what they’re learning and how they’re growing. It warms me to the core to know these shows are making a difference in mother’s lives around the globe!

Today, in honor of our 100th episode, titled “Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever,” I’d like to share some words of wisdom from a few favorite past guests who were gracious enough to write or record their “best advice ever” to be part of this historic episode, and a couple of my own bits of favorite advice, too.

Of course, I hope you actually watch or listen to the 100th episode (see links below), but in the meantime, here’s some of our best advice ever on how to “master” motherhood, parenthood, and basically–life.

 

 

Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever

When I asked past “Motherhood” guests to submit their “best advice ever” about mastering motherhood, I began with the questions I’ve been asking countless moms across the nation these past months as I’ve been touring to research for my new book, Mastery of MotherhoodThe question is: Do you think “mastery of motherhood” is possible? If so, why? If not, why not Additionally, I asked our guest experts to chime in on, “If so, how?”

The following 20 tips are some of my favorite lines from their wise words, the fulness of which you can watch/listen to on our 100th episode, here, on iTunes, above, or below.

(Oh, and be sure to visit MasteryOfMotherhood.com to take my “Mastery of Motherhood” Survey and chime in with your thoughts and best advice! You may even be featured in my book!) 

 

1. “The fruit of motherhood isn’t how your kids turn out. It’s how you turn out.”

This is some of the best advice I’ve ever heard and learned, and now I share it with you. Let go of the idea that your children (and how they act, turn out, etc) determine your worth. It’s simply not true, and you won’t “master motherhood” until you begin to believe it.

 

2. “Let go of the need to be ‘someone’ or ‘something,’ and just be.”

My second bit of advice, to follow up the first:It’s okay. You can take the mask off and just be real. Be real on Instagram. Be real with your friends. Be real in your PJ’s, with a messy house, feeling like you’re losing it, or watching a movie with your kids instead of cleaning that messy house because you’re not going to let yourself lose it. After all, that’s the best thing you can be–for yourself, and for your children–authentic, real, you. (It’s also the first step to “choosing to grow!”) (Watch the 100th episode video to see some of my ‘realness!’)

 

3. “Progress over perfection.” ~Tenielle Shenae, speaker, coach, mentor, self-worth advocate

Tenielle’s advice is time-tested and true, and is a perfect follow up to the 2 statements above. It’s not about being “perfect” as a mom, parent, or human. It’s about progressing, one foot in front of the other, line upon line.

 

4. “Give yourself credit for what you do. Be confident, value yourself and your gifts you bring to your role as mother.” ~Sharon Martin, LCSW, licensed therapist and counselor

 

5. “Make time and listen, listen, listen.” ~Signe Whitson, author of 8 Keys to End Bullying & the Activity Book for Kids and Teens

 

6. “As you listen to your kids, they will tell you what they need. Sometimes that means listening with your ears. Sometimes that means listening with your heart.” ~Lindsay Hibbert Elmer, (my sister-in-law!), mom of 3 plus one beautiful foster baby

 

7. “Take care of you FIRST.” ~Kathy Kaehler, fitness and better living expert, host of LA Talk Radio’s “Cat & Kaehler” show

So important! We think we must care for our kids first, our partnership/marriage/relationship second, but we are wrong. Putting yourself first isn’t saying, “Me first!!” It’s saying, “Me too.” We moms MUST recognize that we have to be healthy and happy and whole in order to give these important things, including our love, to our children, spouse/partner, and family.

 

8. “#SpeakTheSecret.” ~Karen Kleiman, perinatal mental health pioneer and author of many books including “The Art of Holding in Therapy”

Karen’s powerful #SpeakTheSecret campaign reminds us that, as moms, we will have our hard times, too. We will have scary thoughts. We will have unwanted feelings. And we can and must “speak the secret” and reach out for help. Karen also reminds us that, if we do so, we will eventually be well. Speak your secret, whatever it may be. It is only in speaking up that we begin to overcome our struggle, become our best self, and yes, even flourish, again, too.

Created by Karen Kleiman and Molly McIntyre as part of the #speakthesecret campaign. Share your thoughts and join the campaign at postpartumstress.com.

 

9. “Begin planning early on.” ~Valerie Lynn, author of The Mommy Plan

Yes! Valerie is speaking of postpartum recovery, which is not only physical, but definitely emotional, mental, spiritual, and social healing, as well. The earlier we plan, the better off we will be, especially if we’ve experienced pregnancy or postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, or psychosis before. This great advice also goes for any new phase of motherhood or transitional or challenging time of life.

 

10. “Find small bits of time and fit yourself in.” ~Olivia Baylor, therapist/founder of Life Revisions

I echo this one. Motherhood doesn’t require us to lose ourselves. Instead, we can get creative and pursue our dreams along the way!

 

11. “Time management is really about energy management.” Robyn Pearce, time management expert and author of Getting A Grip on Parenting Time

Just let this one sink in. Then, listen to the 100th episode to hear Robyn’s advice on how to manage your energy. A game changer!

 

12. “How your respond to your child is the key.” ~Michael Mascolo, Ph.D. speaker, coach, author of 8 Keys to Old School Parenting

It’s not about what your child does. It’s how you respond to what s/he does that’s the key. Listen to Michael’s description of how to respond to your child in the best way (“It’s all about MILK,” he says), in the episode. He speaks to the heart of solid parenting with this advice–that parenting is about us learning to be our best so we can respond to our children and teach them our best.

 

13. “Parenting is more about the parent than the child. That’s why it’s called ‘parenting’ and not ‘childing.'” 

Just another favorite piece of parenting advice, which cuts to the core of all these excellent tips and to the core of what we do on Motherhood Radio/TV–that parenting isn’t about changing our children or making them behave. It’s about choosing to “grow” through parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood, instead of just “going” through it so we can give our best to our kids.

 

14. “You can master motherhood, but you can’t master your children. Remember 3 things: teach, love, protect.” ~Becky Squire, mom and Make Mine Happy creator/blogger

I love this advice. Teach your children. Love your children. Protect your children. That is your job as a mom.

 

15. “Identify and love what you’re good at. Love your strengths as a mom and be okay with them.” Nicole Bolden, LSW, doula, therapist and founder of Thriving with Baby

 

16. “What are you doing to take care of you? Pick one thing to implement and start small.” ~Katie Richardson, founder/CEO of Puj, mom, life coach

 

17. “Your body is on your side. Your ‘symptoms’ are communication to you, from you. Trust your body.” ~Sophia Wise One, bodywork and healing practices expert

 

18. “Think of ‘mastery’ in terms of your absolute best effort.” ~Myrna Beth Haskell, writer and editor of Sanctuary Magazine

Amen, Myrna. It’s not about being perfect at motherhood or having all the answers all the time. It’s about giving your best, always. That best will fluctuate from day to day, but whatever your 100% effort is today, just give that.

 

19. “Try your best. If you feel you’ve fallen short, it’s a good learning opportunity for you and your child.~Erin Joyce, Psy.D., psychologist specializing in women’s mental health

Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about–continuing to learn and grow.

 

20. “Don’t try to love them. Just love them.” 

My final piece of advice is a favorite lesson I learned at a conference years ago. So often, we are trying to love our children, spouse/partner, family in the way we think they want or the way we think we want, but it’s just not getting through. If you really want to love your family, then love them. Stop trying and just love them. That, to me, is being a ‘master’ mother.

 

 

BONUS: Want the Best Parenting Advice You’ll Ever Receive? Watch This!

 

 

What’s your “best advice ever” for mastering motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, or life? Leave a comment and let us know, below!

 

 

For more tips, skills, and tools, listen to Motherhood Radio here, and SUBSCRIBE on SoundCloudiTunes, or YouTube!

New episodes weekly!

Here’s to the next 100!

 

Take my “Mastery of Motherhood” survey and be part of my new book!

Click below to take the 15-20 minute survey, tell me what you think, and share your stories!

 

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & NobleTarget.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

 

 

 

Register, just below, for INSTANT ACCESS to my FREE, 4-part series on “Essential Oils for Emotional Health, Hormones, Family Sleep, & Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood!” And subscribe to my “Motherhood Essentials” newsletter for tips, recipes, and how-to’s on using essential oils for your family’s health and wellness!

 

 

 

Learn more about how you can be part of my NEW “Motherhood Essentials” Leadership Team and work directly with me! Join us as I mentor and teach you how to promote family health, happiness, and wellness through the incredible benefits of essential oils. For more details, click below!

 

Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

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Click here for access.

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SUBSCRIBE, above, “Like” me on Facebook Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow, & follow me on TwitterPinterest, & Instagram

 

 

 

 

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Overcoming Mom Shame: #StopMomShaming Solutions (Mom.Life Q & A)

 

If you’re a mom, you’ve experienced it–unwanted advice, criticism, or shaming about your parenting, choices, or lifestyle that leaves you feeling devastated. Why are we so hard on each other? And why are we so hard on ourselves?

 

Mom.Life Mom-Shaming Survey Results

Mom-shaming is unfortunately an everyday part of today’s world, and the consequences can be heavy.

Recently, the creators of the engaging and popular Mom.Life app conducted a survey of over 225 women on the topic of mom shaming, or unwanted criticism of their choices or appearance, to understand the far reaching effects. Here’s what they found:

  • Nearly 80% percent of the women surveyed report being shamed.
  • 53% say that shaming happens frequently or is rampant.
  • The leading focus of the shaming was feeding choice, followed by parenting style.
  • Other moms are most likely to be shamers (70%).
  • Dads were the least likely to shame moms.

Why are these numbers so high? And why are moms feeling the most shamed by other moms?

 

Understanding Mom-Shaming

You would think other moms would be the most compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. After all, don’t we all “get” how difficult motherhood and parenting can be? Aren’t we all in the thick of hectic schedules, lack of sleep, and worry that we’re just not doing as well as every other mom?

The sad truth is mom-shaming is a rampant problem, and Mom.Life has taken up the charge to do something about it–a cause I heartily support.

I recently sat down with Mom.Life co-founders, Dee Anna McPherson and Charong Chow, to discuss solutions to #StopMomShaming (the title of their campaign), and also did a Q&A in the Mom.Life app (so fun!), both of which I’m happy to be sharing with you. Listen to or watch our entire conversation in this Motherhood Radio or Motherhood TV episode, and read my take on mom-shaming solutions, below.

 

Mom Shame Q & A with Mom.Life and Dr. Christina Hibbert

A short while ago, I was a featured expert for one of Mom.Life‘s incredible live events. These events are geared toward creating a safe, supportive environment in which moms can engage, live, with one another and discuss topics important and relevant to motherhood.

The topic for the event I was part of was #StopMomShaming, and there were excellent questions by app users and incredible feedback that created an enlightening conversation. Below are some of the most helpful questions and answers from this event. My hope is it will get you thinking about mom-shaming, and how you can be part of the solution, too. (Download the Mom.Life app now to follow me and join the #StopMomShaming movement, and leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!)

 

Question 1 (Mom.Life):

What is your take on mom shaming? We recently surveyed our moms, and the results were astounding. About 80% of mom have been shamed, mostly for parenting choices? And most shamers were moms themselves. Could you shed some light into this dynamic?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

It’s awful so many are still feeling shamed on a regular basis, but unfortunately it’s not surprising to me. It’s so easy for us to get stuck in “our way” and then to beleive it’s the “best” or “only” way. This leads to intentional or unintentional shaming about choices, when in reality, it’s CRUCIAL we each do this parenting thing our own way.

No one knows your specific situation. No one knows your specific children. And no one is the expert on your family’s needs but YOU. If we could hold our tongues, see the differences in our situations and what works, and just love one another, we’d all be so much happier and feel so much more loved and supported.

 

Question 2 (Mom.Life):

Love your response and insight! Mom shaming is so hurtful. Why do you think it affects us so much, especially our self-confidence?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

It’s the worst to feel “attacked” at the heart of what matters most to you, and that’s exactly what mom shaming does. We are all just trying to figure this motherhood thing out, and as I said before, we each have our own unique situations. Since we’re all doing this without a map, we don’t KNOW 100% what we’re doing, right? Even if I have 6 kids, I still don’t know what I’m doing with every one of them, because they’re all so unique and what worked for one doesn’t work for others. This makes us vulnerable from the start. When someone criticizes in that vulnerable area, it hits extra hard. It makes us question, “Am I a terrible mother?” when really, the criticism says so much more about the person who gave it. It’s called “projection,” and the things we criticize others for are usually the things WE most need to work on. That’s why they bother us in the first place and we feel the need to criticize.

 

Question 3 (Mom.Life):

So, it’s not really about us, then? I love that. Here’s a question from a mom in the app: It seems like no matter who we are we get mom shamed, I am a young mom (20) and get mom shamed by my own mom…how do I shut this down?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

Being shamed by our own parents/in-laws is the worst, and it’s unfortunately quite common. Often it’s unintentional and just your mother’s way of tell you how “she did it”. Other times, it’s on purpose. I think this comes from insecurity, as all shaming does. If we feel that sense of self-worth, we don’t need to shame others.

Perhaps your mother just doesn’t “get” what you’re trying to do as a mom. Perhaps she is jealous of how you are as a mom. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to just sit and take it. Boundaries are a wonderful tool for this. Boundaries are rules you set up to protect yourself and your family. It’s like a fence you construct and you decide if it’s a picket fence or a tall brick wall. You decide what is and is not okay for you as a mom with others, and then you talk with them about what you’ve decided, and if they’re ok with it, then great. If not, you’ll need to be tough and keep your boundaries nonetheless. You can still love someone and have strong boundaries. In fact, it’s healthy.

Question 4 (Mom.Life):

Any tips on not allowing mom shaming to bother you to begin with?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

I think it all comes down to a strong sense of self-worth, and I’ve learned that we moms struggle with this the very most. I believe there’s a difference between self-esteem (or what we think, feel, how we behave, look, and what others think about us–the “outward” things) and self-worth (who we truly are–the inner truth). I’ve developed a “pyramid of self-worth” to help people work on building this sense of self-worth, to FEEL that self-love and KNOW they’re truly valuable and worthy.

Almost all the issues I see clients for, at their core, have to deal with self-worth, and I started to see this pattern of women especially who’d say, “I know YOU say I’m worthy, and I can tell myself that, but I don’t FEEL it.” It made me wonder, “how to you help someone feel self-worth?” That’s when I developed the pyramid of self-worth, which is made up of 1) self-awareness, 2) self-acceptance, and 3) self-love practices. I write about this in both my books “Who am I without You” and “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” as well as on my YouTube channel!

 

Question 5 (Mom.Life):

Here’s a great question from the community: How do you make sure you’re sharing the love when you bring another baby home? How do you make sure you’re there for your partner and also for your other children?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

I used to worry so much about this when I was pregnant with my second! I’d wonder, “How could I ever love another baby like I love my first?” But you do. And it’s amazing how your love just grows and amplifies with other children and meaningful family relationships–as a mom of 6 I can say this for sure!

What IS truly challenging is making time so everyone feels they’re getting “enough” of you. It’s important to also get some of yourself, too, so I suggest writing down your priorities–what matters most, in order of most important to least. Then, write down how much time you’re willing to give to each thing each week (including work, relationships, the house cleaning, etc). Focus on getting your top three done everyday, and you will never feel like you’re lacking. The house can be messy, especially if it means you played with your toddler and spent time with your spouse. Let go of what’s not as important in favor of what IS.

I love the saying, “Saying no to something is really saying ‘Yes’ to something better.” Write this on your wall if you need to, but remember that a little of your time and attention, especially if it’s full of love, goes a long, long way. One other suggestion for bringing another baby home: Give the older child a “gift” from the new baby. It’s a great way for big bro/sis to start feeling like and love for their new sibling!

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

Question 6 (Mom.Life):

One mom writes: I can’t help but to keep blaming myself for my weight gain. It is my fault and I feel worse because I didn’t “bounce back” like everyone else. Any advice on how I can gain my confidence back and stop blaming myself so much?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

Self-blame is a tough cycle to live in. It’s so easy to look at others and compare and think, “They are so much better than I am. I stink!” when really we don’t know their struggles, and they’re probably doing the same thing with us about something else. We compare our worst to others’ best, and that’s a vicious cycle. Our sense of self-worth is so tied up in this. If you don’t love yourself or if you can’t practice compassion with yourself–with who you are, your strengths, weakness, the “good, bad, ugly, and exceptional”– of course, you will blame yourself for every perceived “failure.”

The key is to work on building that sense of self-worth, as I mentioned above. Then, you will feel stronger and able to say, “I don’t like that I haven’t lost this weight, but I accept this is where I am right now.” Then, you have the option to change where you are, to improve. And you’ll be coming at it in such a healthier way. As far as weight loss, my newest book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” there’s a whole chapter on Self-worth, and I don’t even discuss setting up a fitness program until Key 7! That’s because, if we really want to set and achieve goals–like the goal to exercise or be healthy–we first need a LOT of mental preparation. We need to change how we view “success” and “failure,” we need to build our self-worth so we’ll stick with it, and we need to learn how to stay motivated. Working on these things is a great start to eventually loving all of who you are and achieving your dreams! (Join my “Exercise to Mental Health” course here!)

 

Question 7 (Mom.Life):

Here’s another good question from a mom: How can I feel less lonely as a new mom? How do I make sure I am my own person and not be known as JJ’s mommy? Is it selfish sometimes to be my own person? I don’t want to only be my son’s mommy.

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

What a great question! First, let me say this clearly: IT IS NOT SELFISH FOR YOU TO BE YOUR OWN PERSON. I see so many mothers who are empty nesters and can’t even answer what they like to do because they’ve given ALL their time and energy to their children and lost themselves along the way. Our goal as mothers is to raise children who become healthy, productive, independent adults, so we do ourselves AND them no good by not remembering who WE are. In fact, I have seen in my own life and so many others’ the power of being YOU as a mom. As we develop our own talents and gifts and share them with others, we SHOW our children how to do the same. We give them permission to “go for it!” because we’ve done so, too. I took my 11 year old daughter with me to an event where I was speaking and doing a book signing, for parents who had all lost a child. She watched me speak and helped with the book signing and at the end of the day she said, “Wow, mom. You are important. You help so many people. I’m so proud of you!” This has helped her want to do the same. We can’t be selfish if we don’t have a SELF. And trust me, as mothers, we give our children so much more when we let that self shine boldly through!

 

 

Have you ever been shamed? By whom, and about what? Do you feel mom-shaming is a problem? Why or why not? What are the solutions to #StopMomShaming?

Join the conversation below by leaving a comment!

Join my “Exercise to Mental Health” 6-week online course! Visit www.ExercisetoMentalHealth.com for information!

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is here!

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

Join my “This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! 

 

"This is How We Grow" FREE 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #personalgrowth #goals

 

 

 

Register, just below, for INSTANT ACCESS to my FREE, 4-part series on “Essential Oils for Emotional Health, Hormones, Family Sleep, & Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood!” And subscribe to my “Motherhood Essentials” newsletter for tips, recipes, and how-to’s on using essential oils for your family’s health and wellness!

 

 

 

Learn more about how you can be part of my NEW “Motherhood Essentials” Leadership Team and work directly with me! Join us as I mentor and teach you how to promote family health, happiness, and wellness through the incredible benefits of essential oils. For more details, click below!

 

Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Watch my “Postpartum Couples” DVD FREE, online!

Click here for details.

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  Let’s Connect! 

SUBSCRIBE, above, “Like” me on Facebook Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow, & follow me on TwitterPinterest, & Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day: The One Thing ALL Moms Need

Mother's Day-The One Thing ALL Moms Need; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

There’s a lot of talk this time of year about what to get Mom for Mother’s Day, of what we moms want, what we deserve, and what we truly desire. While all of these are undoubtedly important, I want to talk for a few minutes about what moms actually need for Mother’s Day.

 

If I asked, “What do you need right now?” the answers would vary. “A nap.” “A shower.” “To go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door!” “A couple hours just to myself.” “To get out of the house and have some fun.” “A hug.” “Encouragement.” “Support.” “Help.” “Love.” Our needs are important; as moms, I’d even say they’re crucial. When we fail to address our needs, we, and those around us (especially our children, spouses and families), suffer. We become worn out, burned out, depressed, and ill. As I often say, “It’s called a need because you need it.” (More on How to Get Your Needs Met, here.)

 

 

The One Thing ALL Moms Need

It’s one thing to be told we’re great. From familyMother's Day-The One Thing ALL Moms Need www.DrChristinaHibbert.com, friends, at church or even on TV on Mother’s Day, we hear praise for mothers. Our children’s poems, gifts, and cards tell us we’re wonderful. The question is, “Do we believe it?” Do we feel it, deep inside? Do we let ourselves feel good about the good job we’re doing as moms?

 

I’ve had many Mother’s Days when I didn’t believe this. Mother’s Days when all that praise backfired drastically, leaving me feeling lower than low, guilty for all I wasn’t doing, unable to see all I was. I believed there was no way I could ever be as good as other moms, or even as good of a mom as I wanted to be. All I could see were my faults, how I didn’t measure up. It’s easy to do–to question, resist, and twist the praise into fuel for self-doubt and self-loathing.

 

It’s a miserable place to be, and yet as a psychologist working with countless moms over the years, I know I’m not the only one who’s felt this way on Mother’s Day. It’s tragic–the one day we’re meant to be built up can put such pressure on us, we end up feeling deflated.

I love spending quality time with my kids, but I love it even more when I've had some time to myself, too. How can I ever doubt my worth as their mother when we love each other so?

I love spending quality time with my kids, but I love it even more when I’ve had some time to myself, too. How can I ever doubt my worth as their mother when we love each other so?

 

Through these experiences, I’ve learned it’s not the holiday itself or the words of others that takes what’s meant to be good and makes it something miserable. It’s something going on inside of me. It’s only when I’ve been focusing too much on my weaknesses, or in a period of anxiety or depression or postpartum depression, or intense grief, trauma or heartache; when I’ve been overcome by a wayward child or struggling with my true worth–these are the times when I couldn’t believe the kind words said. And no amount of reiterating would help. The issue needed to be resolved at a deeper level.

 

My 8 year-old daughter gave me this today. I'm believing what she says--that I'm good at loving, caring, & making them happy!

My 8 year-old daughter gave me this today. I’m believing what she says–that I’m good at loving, caring, & making them happy!

 

How can we believe we’re doing great, good, or even good enough as a mother, when we just don’t?

By focusing on building ourselves and our self-worth as moms. We can:

 

1. Identify the thoughts and feeling that hold us down, telling us we’re not good enough. We can challenge and learn to change them, and as we do, we can progress to tackling the unwanted beliefs we hold, too. (Learn how to tackle unwanted thoughts and beliefs in this post and video.)

 

2. We can let ourselves FEEL (Freely Experience Emotions with Love) what Mother's Day-The One Thing ALL Moms Need, www.DrChristinaHibbert.comcomes, so it doesn’t get all stuck inside, causing blockages to our mind, heart, and soul. (Learn how to FEEL in this post and video and in my memoir, This is How We Grow.)

 

3. We can seek Divine help and guidance, remembering the honor of being a mother, no matter how hard it is. We can remind ourselves that we are being led and cheered on by those on High. As we seek, listen, and obey the whispers, we will find a peace and joy in our role as “Mom,” knowing we are doing an important work, and that we truly are not alone.

 

4. We can actively work to build self-worth, not only for our own benefit, but so we can show our children how to do the same. (Learn how to build self-worth using my “Pyramid of Self-Worth” here and in my books Who Am I Without You and 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise. Listen to How to Teach Your Daughters Self-Esteem & Self-Worth.)

 

5. Finally, we can choose, just for this moment, to believe. “You are good enough.” “You are a good mother.” “You are actually a great mother!” What if you chose to believe any or all of these things, moment by moment this Mother’s Day? How might that change you for the better? 

 

 

This Mother’s Day, Believe…

Mothers, trust me, you are doing better than you think you are. You are loving, Mother's Day--The One Thing ALL Moms Need, www.DrChristinaHibbert.comserving, getting up and trying again and again, and again. You are sacrificing, weeping, rejoicing, and seeking self-improvement through it all. If one of these things feels lacking in your life right now, guess what? It’s okay. It’s an opportunity to open yourself up and become even “better than better”–to eventually flourish!

 

Motherhood is truly the best soil for personal growth. Plant yourself. You’ll be amazed by how vast and high and far you will grow. Choose to believe it this Mother’s Day. Help other mothers believe it: You’re better than you think you are. You’re worthy, you’re remarkable, you’re doing the most important work. Let yourself feel the honor of bearing the name, “Mom.”

 

 

 

“You are good enough.” “You are a good mother.” “You are actually a great mother!” What if you chose to believe any or all of these things, moment by moment this Mother’s Day? How might that change you for the better? Share your thoughts below, by leaving a comment. 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is here!

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

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#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
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Who Am I – in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood? Identity, Full Circle (#PSIBlog Hop 2016)

"Who Am I" in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood?- Identity, Full Circle. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016 #ppd #pregnancy #postpartum #motherhood #identity

“Who am I, now that you are here?” It’s the title of a song I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression, after my first son was born. For me, PPD was about so much more than feeling sad or anxious or depressed. It was about who I thought I’d been, who I was now, and who I would become.

Identity is at the core of becoming a mother. It’s an essential part of this experience, from pre-conception until the end, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that our identity—as individuals, women, and mothers—will ever evolve through our mothering journey.

 

 

Pre-Motherhood Identity
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. I envisioned my little "Who Am I?" Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood #PSIBlog Hop 2016; www.DrchristinaHibbert.comfamily (“definitely not six kids,” I’d told my mom. Having been the oldest of 6 , I would never be up for that kind of responsibility. Never say never.). I believed I knew myself well, and I could see the kind of mother I would be. I would play with my children, making memories with smiles, showing them the world, staying home full-time and loving it. They would be my life, I would be theirs, and life would be good. How little I understood of what lay ahead–of how this vision would be tested, of how I would be tested, pushed, pulled and often shoved–pruned, uprooted, and planted again, and again.

 

Before that tiny being is laid in our arms, do we have any idea of what will be?

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Can we comprehend how much love will flood our heart? Do we sense the tiniest hint of the pain and struggle we will endure—physically, yes, but emotionally, even more so? Are we in any way prepared for the journey for which we are unknowingly enlisting–a journey of self-doubt, self-discovery, and self-transformation like no other?

 

 

Pregnancy Identity

The joy and misery of pregnancy hint at what’s coming, but we don’t realize it, do we? All I knew was my body was changing, my sense of attractiveness lost; I had to pee far too often and slept propped on 5 strategically-placed pillows to avoid acid reflux.

With my first and second pregnancies, I had pains no doctor could explain.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

They’d wipe me out for days. Two years later, they could finally tell me what it was–gallstones–and I finally found relief through surgery.

Near the end of my first pregnancy, I couldn’t wait for the baby to finally be out! All we can think of is how uncomfortable, exhausted, and “done” we are. Little do we know what’s just around the bend. A breach delivery should have tipped me off. He came out bottom first, and as I say, “He’s been giving me trouble ever since”—haha! But the trouble was just beginning. And so was the growth.

A growing body and soon-to-be growing family hopefully grow our mind and spirit, too. Pregnancy is the true beginning, the reality, the point of no return when we start to question who we once were, who we are becoming, and who we will be. As our baby grows inside, we hopefully grow internally, too, allowing questions as they naturally arise: “What will this baby be like?” “What will our family be like?” “What will I be like as a mother?” We hope for the best and expect it–at least, the first time. Perhaps in later pregnancies, we still hope for the best, yet we know all too well the challenges we may face once our little one is finally here.

 

 

Postpartum Identity

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood: Full Circle #PSIBlog Hop 2016 www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

With baby #2, I thought I was better, and I was. But I still ended up with postpartum depression. (My 2 year old is being a dinosaur here.)

I had four very different childbirth experiences; you’d think they’d yield four very different postpartum experiences. No such luck: postpartum depression every time.

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016

Beautiful baby girl was so loved! I only wish the depression and anxiety could have stayed away.

The first time, I penned the words, “Who am I now that you are here?” and put them to music. I’d purposefully dream of my beautiful boy at night, like I used to when I was dating my husband. But I no longer felt like a “me;” instead, I was a perpetual “we.” He was colicky, and I was not sleeping. We moved in with my parents and lived for 3 months on their living room floor because I had no clue what else to do. The first time I left to the store for a pacifier, alone, I felt like I’d broken out of jail.

With my second beautiful boy, I convinced myself I was better. I knew what postpartum depression was. I had my plan and support team. I was ready. My journals betray me, however, with the words “I want to run away. Not forever. Just for a while, so I can feel like me again.”

With the third–a beautiful baby girl–postpartum anxiety was thrown in the mix, just for kicks. And the fourth? That’s a long story. I wrote an entire book about it, but the Cliff Notes version is that after inheriting our two nephews

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

when my sister and brother-in law died, giving birth three weeks later, and going from three to six kids, needless to say, this postpartum experience was so much more than depression or anxiety. It was grief and trauma and desperation to help my family heal–to be strong enough to bear it all and to do it well. This postpartum experience was giving it all I had so I could be there for my children ages 11, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 0, even though my world and identity had been ripped to shreds. I was re-building my family, but really, I was re-building myself. “I’ll never fulfill my dream of being an author or speaker. How could I? I have six children! I am not made to handle this like other mothers are.” The things I told myself! Talk about self-doubt; at times, it was more like self-loathing—a sure sign of depression, once more.

Our postpartum experiences are so varied between us, and they also vary within

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

us. Though the common denominator–a periantal mood or anxiety disorder–is there, the manifestation of that denominator is never exactly the same. As we struggle and overcome and heal and move forward, we change. We grow. We become. And we find it’s the challenges we’ve faced—like PPD—that have made us who we are becoming.

 

 

Mom of Young Children, Teens, Young Adults Identity

Currently, I’m in the midst of all three of these mothering phases. With two in

After visiting my sisters' & other family members' gravesites, at the funeral of OJ's grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

After visiting my sisters’ & other family members’ gravesites, at the funeral of OJ’s grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

college, two in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary, I feel like I’m just trying to keep up most of the time. The busyness, the activities, the emotional needs, the school projects! So much to do, so little time, and still, so many opportunities for personal growth.

I have faced non-postpartum depression and anxiety. I have overcome new traumas, losses, and grief. I have experienced so many trials and lows, and yet I have experienced so many joys, and so much love. It’s ironic, isn’t it? The very things that break us down ends up being the stimulus for unfathomable new growth.

As our little ones become not-so-little anymore, our identity changes again, especially as they begin to form their own identities as teenagers and young adults. It’s a new version of postpartum–watching them individuate and leave the nest, and it can pull at our heartstrings, especially when we see them flail or fail. It’s a time of wondering, “Who am I as a mother now—especially if they don’t seem to need me like they once did?”

Questioning brings answers, however, and if we are brave enough to face those answers, we will find our role as a mother isn’t so much fading as shifting once again. The opportunity for a new identity–one of the supporter, advisor, and simply lover of our children presents itself, and we begin to see ourselves evolve as our children do the same. In doing so, we just might find a new sense of freedom we haven’t had since our journey began—knowing our children are their own beings, and we are merely here to support and love them.

 

 

Mothering Identity is Ever-evolving

As mothers, our identity is ever-changing and, if we are willing to continually

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity--especially our marriage and relationships.

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity–especially our marriage and relationships.

examine ourselves, will be every evolving in positive, joyful ways. Our postpartum journey continues as we become grandmothers, as we nurture our own daughters and sons through their pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting journeys, as we share the wisdom we wish we’d known, and provide the support we wish we’d had. The gift of these new postpartum experiences is that we get to watch our grandchildren grow without the responsibility of being the parent, without the self-doubt that too often accompanies our own parenting journeys. We get to re-experience life through young, fresh eyes, and hopefully, find the joy we might have missed the first time around simply because we were too busy trying to figure it all out to stop and notice.

 

 

Full circle Back to “Me.”

And so we’ve come full circle. As we grow through motherhood, purposefully

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

seeking our truest self, pushing, learning, and taking our lessons in stride, we find we come back to the beginning, at the end. That’s what full circle means to me—coming back around to myself, and feeling more “me” than I ever have before.

 

 

What have your mothering identity changes been like? What’s been challenging for you? What lessons have you learned? How have you seen your experiences come “full circle?” Please leave a comment, below, and join the conversation!

 

 

  • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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2016 PSI Blog Hop: Invitation: "Full Circle" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Join the 4th annual Postpartum Support International Blog Hop! Read the guidelines here, write your “full circle” story, and then link up, below or here. Help raise awareness, support and hope, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month!

 

 

Join me at the Postpartum Support International Annual Conference, June 2016 in San Diego, where I’ll be speaking about postpartum identity, self-esteem, and tools for healing!

More information/to register, click here.

 

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Listen to my latest episode of “Motherhood” radio and “choose to grow through motherhood” with me!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

Listen to "Motherhood" with Dr. Christina Hibbert! Each week on WebTalkRadio.net & iTunes! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #radio

 

 

 

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is here!

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
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Click here for details.

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New Year, New You! Top 6 Strategies for Personal Growth & Change

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New Year’s Goal-Setting: 5 Steps for Personal Growth Success

Beyond Resolutions: Discover your New Year’s Vision

What I’ve Learned about Personal Growth from a Decade of New Year’s Themes

 

 

Exercise as a Family to Build Stronger Relationships, Mental & Physical Health (Key 3!)

Exercise as a Family to Build Strong Relationships, Mental & PHysical Health www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #exercise #family #mentalhealthRaising a healthy, happy family is a tall order, especially considering the many stressors, challenges and roadblocks children, parents, and well, everyone faces each day. How can we raise happy, healthy kids? How can we strengthen our family while building self-esteem and improving family relationships? Family exercise.

Now, I’m not talking about getting everyone in their spandex for a five-mile run or a high intensity step aerobics class. I’m talking about teaching our family to move–to be active, and to have fun while doing so.

“Exercise as a family” is Key 3 of my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” and you’re about to find out just why it’s so important.

 

 

The Family, Mental Health, & Exercise 

At Yellowstone with my family, we went hiking, biking, and had a great time playing frisbee, "keep away" and enjoying the beautiful scenery!

At Yellowstone with my family, we went hiking, biking, and had a great time playing frisbee, “keep away” and enjoying the beautiful scenery! Great for family relationships AND mental health!

“Family plays one of the most critical roles in how we view ourselves—in how we think and feel about who we are, are perceived in this world, and our attitudes toward a host of things, not least of which includes physical activity. Family is also one of the biggest influencers of our mental health. Healthy family environments promote and strengthen mental health, while unhealthy family systems can provoke or contribute to mental illness.

 

“It’s therefore no surprise that exercising as a family is one of the best ‘keys’ for mental health and physical activity across the lifespan. When the family is able to create and foster a positive relationship with exercise and physical activity, the entire family benefits, both physically and mentally.”

 

 

What are the Benefits of Exercising As A Family?

The physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health benefits of exercise for individual adults and children are well-researched, but what can our family gain from being active together?

 

“The family who exercises together…

 

“…gets and stays healthy together–physically and mentally

One Saturday, after my kids had helped me get a little time alone, I took them for a family bike ride. I win. They win. We all win.

One Saturday, after my kids had helped me get a little time alone, I took them for a family bike ride. I win. They win. We all win.

“All of the physical health benefits of exercise [for individuals] can also apply to the children, adolescents, and adults (of any age) in your family. Exercise is important for families because it can control weight, lower heart risks, improve school performance, and increase life expectancy (Bhargava 2014). Additionally, all of the mental health benefits [of exercise] can apply to each of your family members. Family exercise can improve mental and emotional well being, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve happiness and overall life satisfaction for everyone, creating a happier, healthier family unit…”

 

“…grows in self-worth and confidence together.”

“In Key 2 we discussed how exercise makes us feel better about ourselves and can lead to a greater sense of self-worth… We first learn self-worth and confidence in the home. If we want our children and spouse/partner to develop a habit of exercise for mental health for life, we should also try to demonstrate self-worth and confidence. As we provide our family members with opportunities to be active and try new activities, encourage and guide one another in learning new exercise skills, work together, and yes, have fun, we will grow together in confidence and self-worth…”

 

“…has fun together.” 

With the fam, zip lining in Mexico, last spring break.

With the fam, zip lining in Mexico, last spring break.

“Exercise is not only good for our body and mind; it’s good for the soul—if we do it right. Exercise and activity can, and should, be fun. It should involve play, laughter, and memory making with family and friends. Kids are all about having fun, and games, sports, and activities like jumping rope, playing tag, and doing tricks on the trampoline are fun—and great exercise. But the fun isn’t just for the kids. Parents who make exercise fun for kids benefit by having a little fun, too…

 

“…remains active together, throughout life.”

“…Active parents tend to have active children. One study of 4- to 7-year-olds found that children with two active parents were nearly six times more likely to be active, too. Even more interestingly, they found that children with one active and one inactive parent were still more than three times more likely to be active than children with two inactive parents (Moore et al., 1991). Additional research has shown significant relationships between the physical activity levels of every possible family member combination (i.e. mother-father, father-son, mother-daughter, siblings, and so on) (Seabra et al., 2008), providing even greater evidence that families who are active together tend to stay active, together.”

 

“stays together.”Exercise as a Family, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #exercise #mentalhealth #health #family 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise #books

“Exercising as a family doesn’t just create physically and mentally healthy individuals, though that is a huge payoff. It creates a healthier family unit. Being active together doesn’t just help wear kids out so they’ll go to bed earlier and sleep longer (which, let’s face it parents, is a bonus). No. Exercise has the potential to bring families closer…”

 

Exercise as a Family

How can we build stronger family relationships, physical, and mental health? Exercise. Be active together. Have fun together. Live long and happy lives together. Strengthen your family–relationships, physically, and mentally–by seeking to build activity into your family’s life.

And for more ideas on how to do this, watch for “Exercise as a Family: 50 Fun Ways to Get (& Stay) Moving Together”–coming next–to get your family reaping the many benefits of exercise today!

 

~The above quoted excerpts are from my newest book, 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise. Available online or at your local bookseller! 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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What benefits have you found from family exercise? How do you make it fun and get kids on board? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment, below!

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile, here, or above, right.

 

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.” Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

 

 

Join my “This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! 

 

"This is How We Grow" FREE 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #personalgrowth #goals

 

 

 

 

Listen to “Motherhood” radio, “Overcoming Roadblocks (& Excuses) to Exercise for Mental (& Physical) Health” for more tips on family and exercise!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

Listen to "Motherhood" with Dr. Christina Hibbert! Each week on WebTalkRadio.net & iTunes! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #radio

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise as a Family to Build Strong Relationships, Mental & PHysical Health www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #exercise #family #mentalhealth

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Related Posts/Articles:

Exercise for Mental Health: Key 1, Make it fun! (My “8 Keys” Book Launch at Zion Ponderosa Women’s Adventure Retreat!)

Improve your Self-Esteem with Exercise–Key 2!

How to Get (& Stay) Motivated: (Sneak Peak Excerpt from my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise”)

Mom Mental Health Through Exercise: Pregnancy, Postpartum & Beyond!

40 Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

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Improve Your Self-Esteem with Exercise–Key 2 (Excerpt from “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!”)

 Improve Self-Esteem with Exercise!--Key 2, Free Excerpt from %228 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise%22 #books #exercise #mentalhealth #selfesteem

Enjoy this Free Excerpt from my NEW book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!

 

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

 “Most experts see self-esteem as an important aspect of mental health. I agree: self-esteem seems to underlie almost every issue for which my clients come to therapy. They say they’re there because of depression, or anxiety, or relationship problems, but at its core, the real problem is almost always a struggle with self-esteem.

 

Self-esteem can be defined as the opinion we have of ourselves, or how we Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comfeel about ourselves. Healthy self-esteem means we have a positive outlook about ourselves, others, and life. The world calls this “high self-esteem,” and it is associated with healthier behavior, including greater independence, leadership, life adaptability, resilience to stress (Fox 2000), more sports involvement and exercise, healthier diet, less smoking, and lower suicide risk (Torres & Fernandez, ).

 

On the other hand, “low self-esteem” is correlated with the absence of wellness and is a frequent underlying aspect of depression, anxiety, low assertiveness, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and a poor sense of personal control (Fox 2000). Low self-esteem is also associated with higher self-criticism, negative thinking, an inability to cope effectively with life, and poorer overall mental health, including a greater chance of developing clinical depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, stress, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses (Mann et al., 2004).

 

In fact, self-esteem is one of the strongest predictors of subjective well-being. It is an essential aspect of mental wellness and quality of life (Diener 1984). Feeling good about who, and how, we are helps us feel good about life’s situations and other people, and helps us face challenges with confidence and compassion. Healthy self-esteem is also correlated with greater physical activity, and greater physical activity is correlated with higher self-esteem (Fox 2000). It’s therefore crucial we develop healthy self-esteem if we want a rich, healthy, and happy life. As we’ll discuss below, exercise can play a valuable role in helping us achieve this.”

 

“Which Comes First—Exercise or Self-esteem?

Researchers have long been asking, “Which comes first—self-esteem or

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exercise?” We know there is a high correlation between those who are physically active with healthy self-esteem. Common consensus is that this relationship goes both ways. Those who already have high self-esteem are more likely to exercise and participate in sports, especially those who feel confident in their physical abilities and appearance. On the flip side, those with lower self-esteem and physical self-perceptions, including those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, are less likely to engage in regular physical activity. However, this group has the most to gain from exercise, and research shows that regular exercise increases positive self-feelings and evaluations, meaning they feel more confident, capable, and healthy through regular exercise and activity, leading to higher overall self-esteem (Fox 2000).

 

While research can’t exactly pinpoint, it appears there are several mechanisms that lead to improved self-esteem from exercise.

First, as we already know, exercise improves mood and enhances positive self-regard. This, in turn, seems to have a positive effect on self-esteem.

Second, exercise can improve body image, satisfaction, and acceptance for some, which increases overall self-esteem.

Third, exercise leads us to feel more physically competent, which may then improve how we feel about ourselves overall.

Fourth, exercise helps us feel more in control of our appearance, health, and bodily functioning, which can increase a sense of self-efficacy.

And finally, exercise, and especially group exercise, can improve relationships and increase a sense of belonging, which is important in the development of self-esteem (Fox 2000).

 

Overall, it’s likely that each of these factors interplay to create improvements in mind, body, and self-esteem. Since exercise helps us improve our physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health, it makes sense that this would lead to a greater quality of life and improved sense of self-worth. When we stick with an exercise or fitness routine, we demonstrate motivation and dedication, both of which are associated with greater self-esteem and self-perceptions (Fox 2000). Bottom line: no matter how it works, exercise and self-esteem go hand in hand.

 

 

“Exercise, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Why, then, if exercise holds so many secret ingredients for our mental health and wellbeing, is it only weakly correlated with how we perceive our ourselves, especially our bodies? I have a theory. I believe this happens because too many of us still don’t feel our self-worth. Even when the outward evidence says, “You’re important! You’re valuable! You’re an amazing human being!” we don’t believe it. We believe our own “evidence” instead, evidence we’ve collected through our whole lives via true or untrue thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions of experiences. This “evidence” says, “I’m not good enough.”

 

One of the main problems with self-esteem is that it’s mostly based on external

Zion Ponderosa Women's Adventure Retreat www.ZionPonderosa.com

Zion Ponderosa Women’s Adventure Retreat www.ZionPonderosa.com

sources. Research shows that basing our worth on external sources—like appearance, academic or physical performance, or approval from others—leads to greater anger, stress, relationship and academic problems, and higher alcohol and drug use and eating disorders (Crocker 2002).

 

In contrast, those who base their worth on internal, constant sources, such as being a virtuous person or sticking to moral standards, tend to have greater success in life, including higher grades and lower likelihood of eating disorders and drug/alcohol use. In fact, students in one study who based their self-worth on outward sources, like academic performance, were found to have poorer self-esteem, even when their grades were higher than others (Crocker ). This shows the power of having a true, deep sense of self-worth versus basing our worth on self-perceptions and self-esteem.

 

Understanding self-worth is crucial in exercise for mental health success; it helps us believe we can do it, stick with it, and reach our fullest mental and physical health potential. When we feel confident, we’re not only more likely to exercise; we’re more likely to let go of the self-perceptions and beliefs that hold us back and make us feel like a “failure.” We’re more likely to overcome the roadblocks, stop unhealthy thoughts and beliefs, and stay motivated and dedicated to exercise. As psychologist Nathaniel Branden writes, “The level of our [sense of self-worth] has profound consequences for every aspect of our existence: how we operate in the workplace, how we deal with people, how high we are likely to rise, how much we are likely to achieve—and in the personal realm, with whom we are likely to fall in love, how we interact with our spouse, children, and friends, what level of personal happiness we attain” (1995, p.4-5). Yes, we need self-worth.”

~Excerpt from 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise, Key 2

 

 

Read all of “Key 2: Improve your Self-Esteem with Exercise,” in my NEW book, 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

And read more excerpts, like “How to Get (& Stay) Motivated!” and posts like “Mental Health  Through Exercise–Key 1: Make it fun!”

Learn more about building self-esteem and self-worth here.

 

How does exercise impact your sense of self-esteem and self-worth? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment, below!

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Pre-Order on Norton.com and SAVE 25% plus free shipping, with the code HIBBERT,
 or order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com!

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

 My latest book, “Who Am I Without You,” is available now at
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Listen to my episode of  “Motherhood” radio, “Overcoming Roadblocks (& Excuses) to Exercise for Mental (& Physical) Health” for more tips on self-esteem and exercise!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

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Improve Self-Esteem with Exercise!--Key 2, Free Excerpt from %228 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise%22 #books #exercise #mentalhealth #selfesteem

 

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Related Posts/Articles:

How to Get (& Stay) Motivated: (Sneak Peak Excerpt from my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise”)

Exercise for Mental Health: Key 1, Make it fun! (My “8 Keys” Book Launch at Zion Ponderosa Women’s Adventure Retreat!)

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“8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise” Book

8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #exercise #mentalhealth

“[A] useful and supportive exercise guide…enlightening and empowering…”

-Publisher’s Weekly

Order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, Walmart.com, or find it at your favorite bookseller!

 

My new book!

Advance Praise for “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise”

“[A] useful and supportive exercise guide . . . . As Hibbert makes clear, she has not written a workout regimen or weight-loss how-to, but a guide to using exercise to become both mentally and physically stronger. . . . [A]n enlightening and empowering instrument for people who have struggled with mental illness.” — Publishers Weekly

“The 8 Keys books series provides clear, concise, empirically supported evidence for anyone from beginners to experts; 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise is certainly no exception to this mantra. . . . Dr. Hibbert works through the process of change with an array of exercises and reflection questions that ease even the most ambivalent reader into the process. . . . [A]n eye-opening read not only for those searching for the motivation to commit to adding exercise to their routine, but for anyone striving towards self-empowerment. Dr. Hibbert synthesizes a large body of research into a captivating argument for how and why exercise serves as an immensely powerful mechanism for improving mental wellbeing.” — Somatic Psychotherapy Today

“Exercise is essential in maintaining good health—both physical and mental. . . . Hibbert’s book should help readers stick with a successful plan.” — Booklist

“As a therapist, I’m a big proponent of exercise for its positive effects on mood. I frequently talk to my clients about the positive effect of exercise on the body and mind. But even when you know all the positives, you don’t always fully utilize exercise as a way to get or stay mentally well. This is why 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise is such a useful tool. . . . [I]t’s full of reflection questions, writing prompts, and action items. . . . [G]reat for those of us who want to experience more of the benefits of exercise, but need a bit of help creating a plan and overcoming the mental blocks to doing so.” —PsychCentral

“These 8 keys hold the potential to change your life! In this wonderful book, Dr. Hibbert provides us with effective and easy-to-implement tools that allow the mind and the body to unite, change, and heal. A must-read for anyone seeking to change their bodies in a holistic way.” — Dr. Shefali Tsabary, clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author of The Conscious Parent

“Exercise is a magic pill for mental well-being; it clears your mind, calms your body, and makes you feel good about YOU and what you have accomplished. Dr. Hibbert has captured this mind-body connection, and why we must all move toward improved mental health through exercise.” — Kathy Kaehler, celebrity health, fitness, and nutrition expert and bestselling author

“A delightful synopsis of why exercise is so essential to our mental health. With a narrative that is both a pleasure to read and superbly sensitive to the common barriers that get in our way, Dr. Hibbert shows the reader how to harness the motivation for self-care and well-being. Hibbert’s clinical skills and down-to-earth guidance can make a believer out of the most resistant exerciser!” — Karen Kleiman, Founder and Director of The Postpartum Stress Center, author of Therapy and the Postpartum Woman

“I love this book because it combines solid research with practical, easy-to-follow steps to achieve the motivation and skills to exercise for better mental health. Being at your ‘personal best’ and, for parents, being a great role model to your children, means taking care of yourself first. If you’re serious about getting fit mentally and physically, this book will help you to flourish!” — Dr. Rosina McAlpine, parenting expert and author of Inspired Children; winwinparenting.com

“An incredible, accessible, and useful tool for ANYONE hoping to get exercising. Dr. Hibbert offers guidance, support, and tangible solutions to assist the reader through physical or mental roadblocks in order to strive to be their best self. I can’t imagine anyone finishing the book without finding themself an improved individual. I’m grateful it has been written so that more people can benefit from exercise and tackle it through these carefully designed steps.” — Dana Pieper, creator of EveryBody Fitness

 

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For more information on booking me for a keynote or other speaking engagement, click here.

Dr Christina Hibbert, Upcoming Events, Summer 2016

 

 

 

 

8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise 

Supplemental Materials

 

Worksheets

Earthquake Assessment Chart, p. 37

Exercise Motivation Self-Evaluation, p. 94-5

Exercise 4 Mental Health SMART Goal-Setting Worksheet, p. 111-116

Thought Record, Part 1, p. 134

Thought Record, Part 1, Example, p. 137

Thought Record, part 2, p. 139

Thought Record, part 2, Example, p. 141

Exercise 4 Mental Health SMART Goal-Setting Worksheet, p. 111-116

My “Exercise 4 Mental Health Plan” Worksheet, p. 202-7

 

Videos

How to FEEL Powerful Emotions

Change Your Thoughts Using a Thought Record

Using Thought Record, Part 2

 

 

 

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With exercise for mental health, it should be a long, healthy, happy life!

 

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

 My latest book, “Who Am I Without You,” is available now at
 TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

 

Listen to my latest episode of “Motherhood” radio and “choose to grow through motherhood” with me!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

Listen to "Motherhood" with Dr. Christina Hibbert! Each week on WebTalkRadio.net & iTunes! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #radio

Self-Esteem & Self-Worth: “Who Am I?” (Hint–You’re More Than You Think) Preview my NEW Book “Who Am I Without You”!

#SELFESTEEM & #SELFWORTH: "Who Am I?" Hint--you're more than you think! (Preview my new book, #WhoAmIWithoutYou!) www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
 
It’s time! My brand new book, Who Am I Without You, is being officially released this week! In honor of the book release, I’d love to share with you a preview of another one of my favorite chapters in this post. Hope it gives you a good feel for all you can learn about self-esteem, self-worth, and overcoming life’s toughest trials with a strong sense of who you truly are. (If you missed it, here’s a preview of Chapter 1.)
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter 22: Ask, “Who Am I?”

Hint—You’re More Than You Think.

“What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘

Who am I then?’ The one who sees that.”

~Eckhart Tolle

“Who Am I?” How would you answer this huge question?

I’ve asked clients and friends (and myself) many times, and I’ve heard all kinds of answers—“I’m a single mom,” “I’m an optimist,” “I’m a doctor,” “I’m an eternal soul,” “I’m trying to figure that out.” It’s how we introduce ourselves to people—“My name is so and so and I work as a such and such and I like doing this and that.” For many, it’s easy to answer: “I’m a short, blond, artist;” “I’m a mom, a nurse, and I have a passion for scrapbooking.” For others, it’s not so easy: “It’s something I ask myself all the time;” “I’m not sure who I am yet, but I am learning.”

The way I see it, there are two ways to answer the question, “Who am I?”: 1) with our head and heart, or 2) with our soul. The head and heart tell us some facts about who we are, but it’s the soul that answers the question, “Yes, but who are you, really?”

 

You are not how you look, how you feel, or what you think.

Short or tall, fair or dark, thin or not-so-thin—these describe your body. But are you your body? No. It’s part of you, but it’s definitely only part of the story.Preview my new book, #WhoAmIWithoutYou in this post, "Who Am I?" Hint--You're more than you think! www.DrchristinaHibbert.com

How about your feelings? They can certainly be powerful; at times, it can seem like they are you. Yet, emotions arise from all kinds of things—the weather, hormones, sleep or lack thereof, challenges, blessings. We’ve already discussed how emotions may come or go like the weather (chapter seven). You are so much more than your emotions.

Then, what about your thoughts? Our thoughts heavily influence how we feel, what we do, and even what we believe, it’s true. Many people get so caught up in their thoughts they actually believe they are those thoughts. Nope. We are not our thoughts. The fact that we can talk about our thoughts proves there’s more to us than what we think.

 

You are not your roles.

“I am darn-tough/” target=”_blank”>a mother.” “I am a teacher.” “I am a partner.” We tend to focus heavily on our roles. This can be especially tough after a breakup when suddenly, “I’m a wife,” or “I’m a girlfriend” no longer applies. Roles are helpful in categorizing our lives. They help us understand our responsibilities and fulfill them. Roles give us a certain simplicity to life, but roles change, don’t they? As you are going through life transition, you’re surely feeling that. You are not your roles.

 

You are not what you do.

Many of us get caught up in what we do—or don’t do. We take on the identity of a “successful business woman” or “a runner” or “an animal lover.” For instance, I am a psychologist. It is heavily ingrained in the way I think and act in the world. I have a strong curiosity to comprehend how we humans work, and I have a natural ability to understand and have compassion for others. These things make me good at what I do, but do they define who I am? No. They’re just part of how I express myself in this world.

 

Who are you—in your soul?

So, if none of these things we think with our head or feel with our heart gives us the full picture, then I ask again, “Who are you, really?”

This is a question that can only be answered with the soul—with that deeper part of you, that timeless, ingrained knowing that you are more than meets the eye. As we work to discover your sense of self-worth, you will feel that bigger, eternal part of yourself, and you will know that your potential is endless and your ability to love is immense. You will come to know the real you—not the you everyone sees or hears or thinks they know, but the you that was created for a great purpose. You will begin to see yourself as God sees you, and that is true self-worth.

 

Integrating the mind, heart, and soul of who you are.

As we move into how to build unwavering self-esteem, it can help to see who you think and feel you are, because the more you see of yourself and how you are in the world, the more you can integrate it with who you really are, deep in your soul.

That’s what we’re working toward here—to hear what you’re saying in your head and feeling in your heart, and then bring them in line with what you experience in your soul. Are these three areas saying the same thing about who you are? Do you like what you are hearing?

 

Bottom line…

  • “Who am I?” is a huge question, and we tend to answer it with our head or our heart.
  • We are not our roles, our feelings, our thoughts, or behaviors. However, these things can help us understand ourselves better when integrated with the truth from our soul.

 

Tool: Ask, “Who am I?”

  • Head: Grab your journal or a paper and pen and sit in a quiet space. Create your “who am I” list. Write out all the titles and roles and qualities your head tells you that you are. Don’t judge, just list.

Self-Esteem After a Breakup, Divorce, or Relationship Loss: “You’re not alone”

Self-Esteem After a Breakup, Divorce, or Relationship Loss: "You're Not Alone." A preview of chapter 1 of Dr. Christina Hibbert's new book, Who Am I Without You? www.DrchristinaHibbert.com This post is adapted from my new book, Who Am I Without You? with New Harbinger Publications, coming March 1, 2015 (and available for pre-order now)!

In fact, this post is a preview of chapter one.

If you’re going through a breakup, divorce, or relationship loss, then this post [and the book] are for you. If you have a loved one going through it, then this is the perfect gift.

 
 

“I think this is what we all want to hear: that we are not alone in hitting the bottom, and that it is possible to come out of that place courageous, beautiful, and strong.”
~Anna White

 

Relationship loss—we’ve all experienced it, or will at some point. I’m no exception. I may not have experienced your exact heartache or circumstances, but trust me: I understand loss. I’m here to help you through.

 
 

You’re not alone.

Knowing you’re not alone is one of the most important things when a relationship ends, because it can feel very alone. It can feel like, “No one gets how I feel right now.” You’re right: No one does understand exactly how you feel. We each have our unique experience of loss after a breakup. However, it’s also true you may be feeling many of the same things women have been feeling for years, and that can actually be freeing.

 
 
If you feel broken from your breakup or loss, “You’re not alone.”

Experiencing a breakup is a universal loss. Sad but true, breakups and divorce are one of the most common human experiences. Just look at the statistics:

• 40-50% of marriages end in divorce in the United States (APA website, 2013).

• For second marriages, the divorce rate is 60-65%, and third marriages, 72-74% (Divorce Statistics website, 2013).

• Though there aren’t any solid statistics on breakups, some estimate one-third of women have experienced a significant breakup in the past ten years.

 

Whether you’re young or old, divorcing or splitting from your boyfriend; whether it ended civilly or with a text that said, “Sorry, babe. It’s over,” it still hurts. Considering these statistics, there are a lot of hurting women out there.

You’re not alone.

 
 

If your self-esteem has taken a hit after your breakup, “You’re not alone.”

How is your self-esteem right now? If you’re fresh from a breakup, I would guess it’s at an all-time low. Take this brief assessment and see for yourself.

Self-Esteem Assessment

Directions: Place a check mark beside all sentences that apply to you right now.

1) I feel confident most of the time._____
2) I often think negatively about myself._____
3) I feel worthy of love._____
4) I am fearful of or sensitive to rejection._____
5) I accept my flaws and work on them._____
6) I give others’ opinions of me more weight than my own._____
7) I take good care of myself and tend to my needs._____
8) I often compare myself, my life, or my relationships to others._____
9) I feel attractive._____
10) I feel like other people don’t accept me._____
11) I feel capable of achieving success in my life._____
12) I often feel fearful or anxious, especially around others._____
13) I often think positively about myself._____
14) I feel inadequate or inferior to others._____
15) I embrace my strengths and my weaknesses._____
16) I am concerned, and often critical, about my body and looks._____
17) I feel comfortable in social situations._____
18) I have difficulty trusting others._____
19) I understand who I really am, and I like me._____
20) I am a perfectionist._____

Scoring:
Give yourself one point for every odd number you checked, and one point for every even number you did not check. Add up your score. Then, compare, below.

Results:
20-16: High Self-Esteem
Your self-esteem seems strong, especially considering all you’ve been going through. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a thing or two to learn about self-worth and self-esteem, but it does mean you’re starting off in pretty great shape.

15-11: High Average Self-Esteem
You have your moments when you feel “less than,” but overall, your self-esteem is okay. There’s room for improvement, but you’ve got a foundation on which to build.

10-6: Low Average Self-Esteem
You struggle with self-esteem, or at least, you’re struggling now. Don’t worry, though. That’s what this book is for: to show you how to improve.

5-0: Low Self-Esteem
Your self-esteem has definitely taken a hit—either from your breakup, or from earlier in life. You’re not the only one who struggles, however, and you’re certainly not beyond hope. Together, we will help you discover the truth about who you are and rebuild your sense of self-worth.

 
 
If you feel like no one’s on your side, you’re wrong. (Did I mention, “You’re Not Alone?”)

I’m here. Or rather, this post (and my new book) is here—with my words, encouragement, comfort, motivation, direction, and yes, love. You can visit this post (or the book) any time and know that as I write these words for you, I do so out of respect and admiration for your willingness to work through your heartache. I do so out of a desire for you to know you’re not alone. One day, you’ll be flourishing in life and love again.

 
 
Tool: Examine your true feelings.

1) When I say, “You’re Not Alone,” how do you really feel? Do you believe me? Do you have doubts? Write about this in your journal or notebook.

2) How do you feel about your self-esteem assessment score? In what ways might your self-esteem be impacted by your breakup? Did you struggle with self-esteem previously? Can you relate to any of the things I wrote about above, like feeling “less than” or “unlovable”? Why or why not? Write it down.

(Excerpt from Who Am I Without You, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, with New Harbinger Publications.)

 
 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Pre-order Who Am I Without You at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, New Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

Coming March 1, 2015!

 
 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

Self-Esteem After a Breakup, Divorce, or Relationship Loss: "You're Not Alone." A preview of chapter 1 of Dr. Christina Hibbert's new book, Who Am I Without You? www.DrchristinaHibbert.com

 

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10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day 

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization: What Will Your Choice Be?

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PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014)

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In--The 2 Most Important Things (PSI Blog Hop 2014); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PPD #postpartum #PSIBlog #motherhoodIt wasn’t until I first became a mother–with a beautiful baby boy I dearly loved, yet still struggling through postpartum depression–that I realized how hard it was to practice self-care and let others help me. I thought I could—and should—do it all on my own. It was my downfall, making my depression worse. I didn’t realize how much sleep deprivation messed with my emotions. I didn’t yet understand how asking for and receiving help would be one of the most important components of self-care for me. I didn’t yet know it is one of the most important components of self-care for everyone.

My fourth postpartum depression (PPD) episode was unlike the first three. So much more intense. So much more complex. My sister and brother-in-law had recently died and we had inherited our two nephews only 4 weeks to the day that our fourth baby was born. We had three kids, and then we had six.

But, I had grown over the years as a mother. I had become a clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health and perinatal mood disorders. I had founded The Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition to help other mothers and families. I had taught courses and given speeches and written articles on PPD and the Baby Blues, and I knew, 100%, how badly I needed to take care of myself and let help in.

Because this fourth postpartum experience was such a complex and challenging time, I immediately set up all my resources. I scheduled counseling sessions—for me and my husband, for our nephews, then 6 and 10, and for our two other sons, then 8 and 11. I let people do laundry for me, take my 4 year-old daughter for play dates, bring in meals, and even help me paint the nursery and prepare my home for my two new sons.

PSI Blog Hop 2014--#PPD & #Motherhood #MentalHealth Recovery: Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #PSIBlog

My children, first meeting their new little sister. 2007

After a few months though, when grief hit hard, I started to feel like I didn’t want to burden others. I didn’t want them to have to be around me because I felt so negative inside. I didn’t want to complain or whine or be crying all the time. And, if I’m being honest, I really felt like no one could understand what I was going through. How could they? It was so messy and raw and painful on so many levels. I felt weaker than ever before and isolated myself. I got quiet.

As I wrote, in my memoir, This is How We Grow, of that time, “I…know I haven’t invited anyone in. I take responsibility for that. I let myself seem ‘fine’ when I’m in public. I am ‘fine’ when I’m in public. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hard times at home, or even that ‘fine’ is good enough. I wish others would notice the redness of my eyes, the dark circles around them, my sighing, the energy it takes to smile.” (p. 161)

Since my memoir came out last November, several close friends have said, after reading it, “I feel so badly, I never knew how much you were suffering.”

“I didn’t let people in,” I’ve replied. “There was no way you could have known.”

Luckily, I let my husband in. And I let my psychologist in. And I let my inner psychologist weigh in and remind me of the coping skills I’d already developed. Luckily, I at least did that much, and it was enough to get me out of the darkest days and into other help, like an antidepressant, friends, family, and writing my story.

 

We Mustn’t Get Quiet
But, one week ago yesterday, my dear friend lost her life as a result of mental illness. Her three children have been best friends with my children for ten years. She was their “second mom,” like I have been to her kids. It is an incomprehensible loss for her husband and children. It is a devastating loss for my children, for me, and for our entire community.

She had been trying to work on self-care, though I knew, like so many other mothers, it didn’t come naturally to her. She had been setting up and trying to utilize her support network. Outwardly, she had been doing those things that seemed right and good and helpful. But I can see now, despite all her efforts with self-care, she didn’t know how to do the one most important thing: let all that help in.

 

Self-Care is Crucial
How many other mothers, and children, and fathers, and families have to suffer, or even die, before we get it—that self-care isn’t about excess and dawdling and bon-bons on the couch watching soap operas. Self-care is a necessity. It’s about life, and health, and joy; it’s also about preventing despair, isolation, and death. At its core, self-care is about letting help in.

 

How can we help moms in need?
After a friend of mine heard of our tragic loss last week, she said to me, tears streaming down her face, “There have to be so many others out there who are suffering alone and won’t—or don’t know how—to let people in. What can we do?”

This question has been on my mind all week. What can we do? The following four things are, to me, the most important. If we can do these four things, we can stop the suffering, be there for each other, and keep our mothers safe, healthy, and strong so they can do what they do best—love and nurture their children.

 

1) Learn about and practice self-care. Learn to let help in. We must all learn how to take better care of ourselves. We must talk about, and teach, and encourage letting others help us, too. PSI Blog Hop 2014: PPD & Motherhood Mental Health Recovery--Self-Care & Letting Help In, The 2 Most Important Things; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com“In our darkest times it is easy to feel better off alone and isolate. Our suffering is personal, and no one shares it in the same way, so why even bother? But, I can tell you–we do need others, whether we feel like it or not…Making islands of ourselves only causes more pain.” (This Is How We Grow, p. 153)

This is especially important for pregnant and postpartum mothers, and for mothers going through stressful circumstances or dealing with mental health concerns. But it’s equally as important for all mothers and women—because we are the nurturers of families and communities. It’s also important that we educate our children and teens and young adults about self-care, that we model it for them so they may learn to see self-care as an essential part of a healthy life.

 

2) See others’ needs. It’s hard to see others’ needs if they don’t let you in, but one thing I know for sure is we must use our gut, not just our natural eyes. If you feel something’s not quite right, please say something or do something. Yes, it’s okay to ask a mother if she is struggling. Yes, it’s okay to tell her she seems sad and ask what you can do. We must ask and talk about it, for it sends the message that none of us is alone. It reminds us we have a friend, a hand held out in the dark. I often say, “I’d rather say something and be wrong than not say something and wish I would have.” (Read “3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear.”)

 

3) Offer support now. If you have the impression to send a text or post a quote on her Facebook page, do it. If you’re driving by and feel you should stop, please do. You might talk yourself out of it: “She’s busy.” “I don’t want to intrude.” But you’re not intruding, and even if she’s busy, she’ll at least know you care. As I write in This is How We Grow, “How do we connect? We listen. We hear. We respond. We feel. We reach out and ask, ‘How are you?’ and wait for the honest answer. Then, we reach out again. And again. We say, ‘I’m so sorry. My heart is breaking with you.’ We look past our discomfort, or we say it out loud, ‘I don’t know what to say or do. I just want to be here for you.’ We are willing to be in that space of our own discomfort or pain, because we know it’s not about us. It’s about loving the one we love…Strength and healing are in connection.” (p. 287)

 

4) Stick with her for the long haul. Pregnancy and postpartum depression/anxiety, and maternal mental illness, are not over in a week or a month. Neither are most of the great stresses of motherhood. Continue to ask how she’s doing. Check in regularly. Listen with your heart and not just your head. Keep doing it for as long as it takes to help her be well again.

 

Bottom line…

“We need connection to survive. As poet Mark Nepo writes, ‘The question to put to our daily lives, then, is this: In love, in friendship, in seeking to learn and grow, in trying to understand ourselves…When pressed by life, do I bridge or isolate? Do I reconnect the web of life and listen to its wisdom? Or do I make an island of every confusion as I try to solve its pain?'” (This is How We Grow, p. 153)

May we form a great, strong web–a net of connection and support, so when one of our sisters, friends, mothers, tribe falls, we may catch her. One voice. One hug. One love-filled, supportive, mom-to-mom moment at a time. Together, we are strong.

~Written in loving memory of Jody McDaniel.

My family, today. 2014

My family, today. 2014

 

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PSI Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop

 

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below. What have you found crucial to postpartum and maternal mental health recovery? What suggestions do you have for how we can better help moms in need? Are you willing and ready to join together and form this net of support and love?

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
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**This is How We Grow Charity Fundraiser**

All proceeds from sales of This is How We Grow during the month of May 2014 will be donated to The McDaniel Family Fund, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and in memory of my dear friend, Jody, who lost her life last week.

Read the fundraiser post here.

 

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