Postpartum Stress Overload: Time to Metabolize Your Stress!
Too many stress factors tipping you out of balance causing postpartum dysregulation.
You are likely stuck in a survival stress pattern due to an influx of stressors experienced throughout your pregnancy and/or during the immediate postpartum, but your childbirth was not a contributing factor.
Hi, this is Jennifer, the founder and Chief Empathy Officer of ASK Therapy for Moms.
I want to personally take a moment to acknowledge the brave step you just took by taking this self-assessment as a first step towards mental and emotional wellbeing.
A genuine heartfelt nod and embrace being sent your way.
Let’s explore your result..
What does this say about your current postpartum struggles?
First, let's acknowledge that they are real for you and I imagine causing a lot of upset, angst, and/or grief. Something I discovered, after working with hundreds of mothers over the years, is that postpartum mental health challenges (I like saying that over postpartum mood disorders) are never an isolated experience.
Many moms have told me that they were worried about ‘getting’ a postpartum mood disorder, as if it was something you randomly catch. I am not minimizing the impact of severe depression or anxiety, I know it is real. However these symptoms, that can destabilize a mom and her family, are typically the by-product of too much survival stress, trapped in the system for too long, with no end in sight.
This is why at ASK Therapy we have a nervous system informed approach to therapy - not your typical approach to therapy. The nervous system is your biological engine and also, your personal surveillance system. It is always working to keep you alive and better yet, to help you thrive.
But, sometimes it glitches.
Too much survival stress, trapped for too long, with no end in sight causes this glitch. And when your system glitches, those horrible symptoms show up.
When this happens, eventually your engine either revs up but remains parked in neutral (anxiety) or it runs out of gas, resulting in a shut down or total collapse (depression). This is what neuroscientists and physiologists call dysregulation of the nervous system. In Polyvagal Theory we call these two survival states: sympathetic and dorsal vagal (more on that later).
What’s the problem?
The challenge is that many of us do not know how to either discharge the excess energy or jump start the engine when it has run out of gas, because we were not shown how.
What's the consequence?
You feel trapped in the overwhelming felt sensations, emotions, and stressful thoughts.
Granted, adjusting to motherhood is, in and of itself, an all encompassing event that demands all of your attention and energy. Add any extra perinatal stress factors and you can easily be tipped out of balance.
What all of this is telling you is that your system (body, heart, and mind) is overwhelmed with unresolved stressful material and it is knocking at your heart's door for your kind attention so that you can restore it back to a state of health and wellness. The good news is that this can be done!
You do not have to remain in overdrive and chronic survival stress for the remainder of your postpartum or journey into motherhood.
Health occurs when we can shift our system into a place of coherence - a harmonious rhythm of communication between your brain, heart, body, and relationships.
Our team of therapists hold a deep belief in the capacity to heal the nervous system which includes your brain, body, mind, and heart. Working with a professional who is trauma informed is an essential component towards restoring your nervous system back to health.
I call this stage of healing – 'getting your brain back online'.
Neuroscience tells us that when our system is in high gear stress mode (survival stress), the brain defaults to the NEGATIVE. Yup, you heard that correctly: You can, by default, get stuck in a negative internal dialogue (thank you brain) that is biased towards past stressful events.
We know that negative thinking about the past results in uncomfortable feelings like shame, anger, sadness, guilt, that can contribute to symptoms of depression.
Negative thoughts about the future result in uncomfortable feeling states like worry, fear, panic, terror, sadness, guilt, that can result in symptoms of anxiety.
In both of these examples we are living in the past or seeing the future from the past.
What are those additional postpartum or pregnancy stressors that may have pushed your system into survival mode resulting in the expression of the symptoms you are experiencing?
What I have noticed in my private practice is that when I draw this concept out with my postpartum moms, a light bulb goes off and they realize HOW MUCH toxic stress is in their daily life and what might be contributing to it. Together we explore which stressors they can change or eliminate, and which stressors are beyond their control, and then we work at creating change.
Some of the changes are tangible action steps and most of the changes are internal changes.
What are the internal changes?
Changing perceptions and beliefs;
Changing feelings and emotions;
And becoming 'aware'
All of these changes are possible when you first learn 'your letters'. Yes, there are the S's, the C's, and the R's that are foundational to you becoming the author of your life and feeling better.
You can expect to learn about 'letters' in the follow up email series and throughout your work with one of our therapists. You can start below.
Turn your attention inwards and contemplate these two questions:
a. What am I hearing myself say about my stressful postpartum experience?
b. What am I hearing myself say, about MYSELF, as it pertains to my postpartum? What does it mean about me as a person?
These two questions represent step 3 and 4 of the 10 step ‘Flowing Fears’ process (more on that later). Learning how to tune your attention inwards and begin to notice what stressful thoughts arise from within is a critical skill of self-reflection.
Over the next few days you will receive more pieces of inspiration and goodness about healing and postpartum mental health.
To get started on your healing journey I invite you to check out this 4 part video series with bonus material called: What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
This series was presented to over 400 moms with extremely positive feedback. It is empowering and removes the mystery of postpartum mood challenges.
Remember, you are not alone!
**Ready to get started with a therapist ASAP > CLICK HERE
Please note - This assessment and report is not to be used as medical advice. If you are suicidal or at risk of harm, experiencing severe mental distress, or in an abusive or harmful environment please reach out to your local mental health line or hospital immediately.
JS Coaching Group Inc.|2022