Navigating the Holidays: A Guide To Help Moms Experience The Holidays With Joy

I cannot believe that it’s already December and it’s almost 2024. If reading that sentence caused your heart to skip a beat, then you aren’t alone. I’ve been avoiding putting up our Christmas countdown for this very reason.

If you’re like me, you may be frantically trying to figure out the perfect gift for your kids that doesn’t break the bank but also doesn’t include seven hundred tiny pieces. Or maybe you’re trying to plan a delicious meal for your family that won’t require you to spend all day cooking. I’m sure some of you are out searching for the ugliest Christmas sweater for your neighborhood holiday party. Or maybe you’re trying to find your boss the right gift that says you think they’re cool without being too much of a suck up.

Perhaps you’re dreading the holidays because you just survived spending all day with your family on Thanksgiving. Now you have to gear up to spend MORE time with your in-laws who never stop giving you unsolicited parenting advice. You might also be dreading the holidays because you’re missing someone you love that has either passed away or you’re no longer speaking to. If any of these are you, read on for my top 5 tips to help you manage holiday stress so that you can feel the joy of the season.

5 Tips To Help Manage Holiday Stress

  1. Set Realistic Expectations:
    • Decide now what is most important to you about the holidays. Whenever you start to feel stressed, remember the reason you are celebrating. Anything that isn’t 100% necessary and doesn’t fall in line with your values is not required of you to do.
    • Embrace imperfection. It’s ok if your Christmas tree isn’t decorated like the ones you see posted on Instagram. Your kids will remember the memories you make together, not whether or not your decorations are picture perfect.
  2. Practice Regular Self-Care
    • Scheduling self-care is always a must for moms but during already stressful times it’s even more important.
    • Try to take at least 20 minutes each week (daily if you can) to do something that brings you joy. Go for a walk, listen to a meditation exercise, sit by the fire with a hot cup of tea and snuggle up under a blanket, or watch a hallmark Christmas movie. Whatever it is that makes you feel rejuvenated and makes you happy, do more of that.
  3. Say “No” and Set Boundaries:
    • Saying no and setting healthy boundaries can go a really long way. This can help you make sure that you’re only spending your energy on what you really want to be doing.
    • You don’t have to RSVP yes to every holiday party that you get invited to. It’s also ok to say no when your child’s school asks you at the last minute to collect money for the class teacher gift.
  4. Practice Gratitude:
    • Show your family what the true spirit of the holiday season is all about by modeling gratitude.
    • Ending each day by writing down something you’re grateful for helps to shift your focus from whatever is stressing you out to something more positive.
  5. Delegate Tasks:
    • It’s okay to ask for help. If you have a big holiday party coming up, don’t be afraid to ask friends to bring an app or dessert to share. Hire house cleaners to come beforehand if you can afford it. Print off address labels for your holiday cards rather than hand writing them all.
    • Moms think they have to be able to do it all. This is never realistic and only hurts you. Most of the time your family and friends probably want to help. But they won’t know you need it if you don’t ask them though.

Sometimes the stress of the holidays can become too much and you might need to seek the help of a professional. We can help you manage your holiday stress and anxiety. Contact Patrice for a free 10 minute phone consultation!

10 Questions You Should Really Be Asking New Moms

For some reason, once you become pregnant it seems like everyone thinks they no longer have to use discretion when it comes to making comments about your appearance, touching your growing baby bump, and giving unsolicited parenting advice. More often than not, the never-ending tips on how to hold your baby and how much you should be feeding them can be overwhelming to a new mom.

You can probably find a camp of moms that feels passionately about both ends of whatever the subject is when it comes to raising kids. And to make matters worse, telling a new mom that they’re doing something wrong can lead to mom guilt that they probably don’t need your help feeling because it comes with the territory.

When I asked a group of moms recently what they wished people were asking them when they were a new moms, this is what they had to say. Next time a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker or whoever you know has a baby these are the questions you should be asking them if you really want to be helpful.


1. Do you need a break?

This might seem obvious, but asking this is much more helpful than saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Even better would be to ask the question,” How can I make your life easier?” If she doesn’t know, offer to come over and do the laundry and dishes. Or ask if you can bring dinner or groceries.

2. Do you feel guilty about anything?

I don’t think I’ve met a single mom yet that didn’t experience mom guilt at some point or another. Asking this question can give the mom permission to tell you what is making her feel like she’s not good enough. Chances are, just saying it out loud will help her see that she isn’t a bad mom. But either way, you can still offer reassurance that what she’s feeling is normal. It might also lead to something else you can do to help in that situation.

3. What are you afraid of?

Having a baby is scary at times. Period. You’re now responsible for another human being’s life. As their mom, you definitely feel that pressure and it can cause anxiety. Often moms don’t realize that having scary thoughts about bad things that might happen to their baby is pretty common.

One of my favorite books is “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts,” by Karen Kleiman. Kleiman says that over 90% of mothers have scary, intrusive thoughts about their babies and themselves. But the good news is that you can get help and you can work through them.

4. Are you eating?

The adjustment to being a new mom can be so overwhelming that moms often forget to take care of themselves. We’ve all had those days where we got so consumed in taking care of others and running around that we couldn’t remember if we ate breakfast and sometimes even lunch.

Moms have to make feeding themselves a priority just as much as they make feeding their babies a priority. If we aren’t getting enough protein and other nutrients, our mental health can also be affected. There are vitamins and minerals that have been depleted from your body when you go through childbirth and it’s important now more than ever to make sure you are replenishing them with a healthy diet.

5. How are you REALLY doing?

A common question that we ask new moms is, “How are you doing?” Often when people are asked that question, their response is quickly, “I’m fine!” Sometimes this response is just an automatic reaction because we don’t know if the other person really wants to hear the truth.

Other times, when we respond this way it’s because we are afraid to admit that we aren’t fine. There are also times when we’re struggling and we really don’t know that we aren’t ok. So asking, “Are you REALLY ok? I mean really? It’s ok if you aren’t” can be just enough to give a new mom permission to open up to you about how they really are.

6. Is your husband ok?

I know this is about moms, but husbands are often overlooked when it comes to postpartum mood disorders. One in ten dads experience postpartum depression and that number goes up to 50% when the mother is depressed. As many as 18% of dads develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder after becoming a father.

However, the stigma against experiencing difficulties in early parenthood is even higher for men than for women. Society views men as stoic, self-sacrificing, and above all, strong. When men feel none of those things as new fathers, they don’t want to admit it or seek help.

Postpartum Support International has virtual support groups for dads and is even sponsoring International Father’s Mental Health Day this year on June 19th. So don’t forget about the dads. Ask them how they’re doing too.

7. How are you handling your new roles?

Many moms get as little as 6 weeks maternity leave. Leaving your newborn and going back to work when your baby is barely sleeping more than 3 hours at a time is tough!

Going back to work and leaving them with someone else can feel horrifying, but some moms don’t have a choice.

There are also moms who have worked their whole life and defined themselves by their job, but decided to be a stay at home mom. Going from a working mom to one who doesn’t work outside of the home, can be isolating and confusing.

I’ve done both and neither are easy. So make sure to ask your friends how adjusting to their new role has been for them. Do they need help figuring out how to balance it all?

8. Better than questions, were the moms that just showed up.

The ones that said, “I’m bringing dinner tonight.” Or, “I’m picking up the non baby sibling for a playdate so you can nap.” Or I’m coming over with a bottle of wine and/or coffee. What is your favorite sweet treat so I can bring that too?”

Sometimes, new moms feel guilty about asking for help and they need you to just show up. Don’t ask, just do it.

9. Do you need to see a pelvic floor physical therapist?

Did you know that you shouldn’t have to hold it in so that you don’t pee yourself when you sneeze, cough, or exercise after having a baby? The focus of care after delivery gets shifted from the mother to the baby. And mom’s often don’t get any guidance on how to heal their bodies.

There are physical therapists who specialize in helping you retrain your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles so that you don’t have to continue holding it in forever. Empower Physical Therapy and Wellness was founded by two moms who get it. Their goal is to help guide you through the postpartum period so that you have a solid understanding of your body’s capabilities and how to safely return to exercise. Reach out to Aimee and Lauren if you have questions or to set up a free consultation.

10. What do you miss about your life before you were a mom?

I often ask moms this question when we start working together because it’s usually a good indicator of where we can begin. It helps me to understand what you’re passionate about and what brings you joy. We usually have to get creative and think of new ways to implement those old hobbies or activities that we used to do without having to plan ahead and find a babysitter. But that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Finding your identity as a new mom is important. Yes it will change, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still the same person and that you can’t enjoy your new life!

If you’re a new mom and you’re feeling like you don’t have the support you need, reach out to Patrice to see if working with her might be helpful to get you back to feeling like your old self again.

6 Tips To Help Moms Get More Sleep; For Herself and Baby

I’m excited to have Guest Caryn Shender, certified pediatric sleep consultant, sharing about the importance of sleep for moms. Caryn gives us her best tips to help mom and baby overcome the sleepless nights we’re all too familiar with in the first few years of motherhood.

The Importance Of Sleep

For kids, sleep is vital to help their growth, for development, to stabilize their moods, regulate emotions, process learning and increase memory. Studies show the lack of sufficient sleep each night can affect your health; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Common signs of sleep deprivation include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Clumsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to focus
  • Weight gain from lack of energy to prepare healthy meals
  • Decreased energy
  • Sleep latency (i.e., how long it takes to fall asleep at night)
  • Daytime dysfunction (i.e., difficulty staying awake during the day)
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mental instability (PPD/PPA)
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Difficulty coping with even relatively minor stressors
  • Decreased patience
  • Inability to perceive situations accurately

Then comes baby…

Being a mom is not easy. You’re used to living life a certain way and then baby comes along and suddenly you are thrust into this new way of life. With that comes many new challenges, including sleep, or lack thereof. In the postpartum period, sleep deprivation is extremely common.

A study by The National Library of Medicine found that mothers with postpartum depression sleep 80 minutes less per night than those without it. And for any new mother, who already is sleeping less, that can have a drastic impact and take a serious toll. While “sleep while the baby sleeps” is meant to be helpful, it is often impractical. We, as mothers, often have the idea that we need to sacrifice sleep because that’s “just an expected part of motherhood” or that if we need to take a break or practice self- care, we are not a good mom. These misconceptions could not be further from the truth.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to overcome those sleepless nights.

1. Establish A Bedtime Routine:

Create a calm, consistent bedtime routine that you do every single day. Include things like bath, lotion, night-nights, books, songs and a special goodnight phrase. It is best to have your final feeding at the start of the routine to avoid feeding TO sleep. This provides structure, predictability, routine, and a sense of calm in an otherwise chaotic day for both baby and mama. It also serves as a sleep cue to let your child know it is time to unwind and get ready to sleep. If you don’t have a bedtime routine in place or would like to improve yours, check out this Bedtime Routine Guide or this Neurodivergent Bedtime Routine Guide so that you can get a calm, consistent easy to do bedtime routine going tonight!

2. Take Shifts:

If you are breastfeeding, it can be exhausting feeding every 2-3 hours. Consider using formula or trying to build a supply so that you and your partner can take turns feeding overnight to get longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep. For example, mom can feed before baby goes to bed and when baby wakes overnight, the other parent can feed. Then swap so each parent can get about six hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Feeding your baby is best. For those who breastfeed, there is no shame in using formula overnight and breastfeeding during the day; or building a supply and letting dad bottle feed. Your sleep and mental health are worth it.

3. Ask For Help:

If it is within the budget, a night nurse or postpartum doula can support you and provide you the space to be able to take a break and sleep, even if just for a nap or night or two. If a friend asks what she can do to help, let her. Often new moms think ‘I must do this on my own’ or fear ‘if I ask for help, I am a bad mom. When in reality, it is totally okay to ask for help! Asking for help doesn’t reflect on you as parent. You don’t have to sacrifice sleep to be a good parent. It’s OK to ask for help.

4. Practice Safe Sleep:

Give yourself peace of mind and reduce the risk of SIDS by practicing safe sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends following the ABCs of Safe Sleep. If you aren’t familiar, this means Alone, Back, in Crib. Baby should sleep Alone, on the Back, in the Crib – with nothing but a tight, fitted sheet on a firm mattress. There should be no toys, bumpers, pillows, blankets or loose fitted
fabrics. Place baby on his/her own safe, flat, sleep space. Baby can sleep in your room (roomsharing) on their own sleep surface but not on your same sleep surface.

5. Early Wake Ups:

Are you not sleeping because your child is waking and ready to start their day between 4-6am? Use this guide, 5 Reasons Your Child is Waking Early, to troubleshoot what’s going on in your home.

6. Make a plan for change:

If your child is struggling with sleep, consult with/hire a sleep consultant to make sleep easier and help everyone in your family get the sleep they need. Schedule a FREE 15-minute Sleep Assessment with Sleep Tight Tonight to get started.

Mama, sleep is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. Sleep deprivation may be common, but it does not have to be your normal. Exhaustion is not a badge of honor. You are able to better take care of yourself, your family, and you will start to feel better when you get the rest you need. There is no shame in prioritizing sleep and wellness for your family.

Caryn Shender, founder of Sleep Tight Tonight and author of My Scar is Beautiful, is a mother, certified pediatric sleep consultant, and safe sleep ambassador who has guided thousands of families through the exhausting world of newborn, baby, and toddler sleep. She is trusted by parents and parenting coaches. As an entrepreneur, author, and mother of a heart warrior, she understands the weight and frustration of being sleep deprived, and the anxiety that crying can cause parents, while also understanding the power and importance of getting restful, restorative sleep. She is dedicated to helping families turn sleepless nights into easy, peaceful nights and sweet dreams. Being a mom is hard. Being an exhausted mom is next to impossible. Together, we’ll make sleep easy.

5 Reasons Why You’re A Good Mom

All too often I hear moms say that they aren’t a good mom. Or they tell me they feel guilty because they yelled at their kids again today after yelling at them louder than ever yesterday. Every time I hear this, I tell these moms that I get it. I get it, because I’ve been there. I’m there almost daily. We all doubt ourselves as moms. Between the constant pressure to always be on and be our kids entertainment director, to the pressure to be the perfect Pinterest mom it’s almost impossible not to feel mom guilt at some point or another. The thing is, we are all good moms. It doesn’t matter how loud you yelled or how long you allowed your kids to have screen time this week. You’re still a good mom!

Unfortunately we just don’t hear this enough. People don’t stop you in the grocery store to tell you that you’re doing a good job buying groceries to make sure that your family is fed. No one stops you in the carpool line to say, “Good job getting Sally to school every day this month even though she fought you for 30 minutes to get dressed and out the door!”

But I’m going to say it now and I’m going to say it loud! You are a good mom!

5 Reasons Why You’re A Good Mom

Here are five reasons why you’re a good mom. I’m sure there are many more, but I’m just give you the first five I can think of. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

  1. You keep getting up every day to take care of your kids even though you have no idea what you’re doing.
  2. You’re keeping them alive.
  3. You feed them every day. We all know this is much harder than it sounds. It not only means planning what to feed them, it means going to the grocery store. Which also means finding that specific brand of macaroni and cheese that your daughter likes because it has the unicorn shapes and then going to another grocery store because the one by your house no longer has that kind. Feeding your kids also means finding the energy to make dinner every night after you’ve been either working outside of the home all day or you’ve been chasing toddlers, changing diapers, and picking up legos so that you don’t step on them and end up with another giant bruise on the bottom of your foot. More importantly it means having the patience to not flip your lid when your kid asks you for the fifteenth time what you’re having for dinner and scrunches his face when you tell him you’re having what was his favorite meal last week yet he no longer likes it.
  4. You want to be better. You’re constantly looking for the next parenting book or podcast so that you can learn better ways to handle your kids behavior. Even if you aren’t, you the fact that you feel guilty about not being a good mom means that you are a good mom!
  5. You love your kids more than anything. Tell me if I’m wrong, but the moment you laid eyes on them was the best moment of your life. You never knew you could love someone so much. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t times when you don’t hate their guts, but you still love them at the same time. Or maybe I should say that you hate the way they’re acting. You get what I’m saying. I’d never say that I hate my kids to their face.

Being A Mom Is Hard

Moms, we all know that this crazy thing we call motherhood is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And you may never truly believe that you’re doing a good job, but if you remember one thing from this post I hope you’ll remember this. You are a good mom because you care!

You don’t have to be a perfect mom to be a good mom. I hate to burst your bubble, but you never will be perfect. In fact, you’ll exhaust yourself trying to be one. If you’re feeling guilty about the time you messed up and forgot to make sure your daughter’s favorite outfit was clean for picture day you’re still a good mom or you’re feeling awful because you screamed at your kids so loud you scared yourself last night, you’re still a good mom. There are 365 days in a year. How many of those days did you NOT yell at your kids? Even if you had a bad year and yelled a lot. I’m pretty sure you didn’t yell every day. And more than likely, you didn’t yell more days than you did.

I know that I’ve said it too many times for one blog post, but I hope you know that you are a good mom. Even despite your flaws, you’re doing a good job!

Still having a hard time believing that you’re a good mom? If you think you might need more support reach out to Patrice. You can set up a free phone consultation to see if working with her would be a good fit.

As Postpartum Support Internationals motto says, “You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help you will be well.”

Overcoming Postpartum Anxiety

Inside: Symptoms, risk factors, and tips for managing postpartum anxiety.

When I had my first baby, I remember getting sent home from the hospital and thinking, “How in the world are we going to do this?” We had been in the hospital for 4 nights due to an emergency c section and some difficulty I was having with breastfeeding. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave!

At the hospital, we had all of the experts helping us with feeding and making sure that our baby was ok. I remember getting into our car and my husband driving no more than 40 miles an hour on the highway, because we were both afraid we were going to break our little bundle of joy.

Then the challenges with feeding continued, and I was constantly second guessing myself as a mom. Despite having a background in children, I felt like I had no idea how to take care of a baby. Not to mention the fact that I’m a girl who likes her 9 hours of sleep so sleep deprivation felt devastating to me. What I didn’t realize was that I was experiencing more anxiety than what was normal for a new mom.

According to Postpartum Support International, about 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. This number is probably not completely accurate because many moms don’t know that what they’re experiencing is postpartum anxiety so like me, they may not seek help. Although this can be a debilitating illness, there is hope. Once a mom who is suffering from postpartum anxiety gets help, there is a great chance she can learn to overcome it with the right tools.

Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety

It can be hard to tell if what you’re feeling as a new mom is a natural response to having a baby. Most moms worry from time to time, especially those who are new at it. From worrying about if your baby is getting enough milk to how will you find time to do housework, there is plenty to worry about.

But when the worry becomes something that interferes with your ability to care for yourself or your baby, that’s when you might need to seek professional help. Other symptoms of postpartum anxiety are:

  • Constant worry that you can’t turn off.
  • Sleep and appetite disturbance.
  • Physical symptoms like nausea, hot flashes, heart pounding, dizziness.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Feeling like something bad is going to happen.

Risk Factors

There are some things that might make you more likely to experience postpartum anxiety than other moms. Some of those risk factors include:

  • Family history of anxiety.
  • Previous diagnosis of anxiety or other mood disorders.
  • A traumatic birth experience.
  • Lack of social or familial support.
  • Previous pregnancy loss or death of an infant.
  • Thyroid imbalance, diabetes, and other endocrine disorders.
  • Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding.
  • Financial strain.

Getting Help With Postpartum Anxiety

Asking for help can sometimes be the hardest part about recovering from any mental illness. Navigating the challenges of motherhood is hard enough, especially when you have an infant and are only getting a few hours of sleep a night. Not to mention the fact that you have to admit that you need help before you can ask.

But as I’m sure you probably already know, you can’t be a good mom to your baby if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Even making small changes in your day can help you overcome anxiety. Here are a few places to start:

Get regular exercise:

This can even mean putting your baby in a stroller and going for a 15 minute walk. Your exercise routine may not look like it did before you had kids, and that’s ok. The point is to get some fresh air and get your body moving.

Practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness means staying in the present moment. Anxiety has a way of getting you caught up in regret about things you haven’t done or what might happen in the future. Doing things like taking just a few minutes to take a some deep breaths can help you refocus your thoughts to what’s going on right now.

The 5 senses exercises is another great way to help you focus on the here and now. The 5 senses exercise is thinking about 1 thing you can see, 1 thing you can hear, 1 thing you can feel, 1 thing you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. You can do this from anywhere and it only takes a few minutes. It’s a great way to help you get grounded.

If you have a little more time, like maybe when your baby is napping, yoga can be another great mindfulness tool. Yoga has many benefits for moms including relieving stress, making you stronger, and increasing your balance. You can read more about why I love yoga in my previous post, 5 Reasons Yoga is Crazy Good For Moms.

There are tons of great free yoga videos online that you can do from your own home. One of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene. She has a really soothing voice and offers different types of yoga to help with specific issues you may want to work on. Instagram is another good resource for finding yoga videos that you can do from anywhere.

Balanced Diet

Sometimes just finding time or remembering to eat can be a real struggle for moms. It’s easy to get so caught up in taking care of everyone else that you forget to feed yourself. But fueling our bodies with adequate nutrition is crucial to being the best version of ourselves. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals in order to function. Did you know that your body creates serotonin from carbohydrates? Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that influences many of your bodily functions, including your mood.

Keep some easy healthy snacks on hand so that you don’t have to think too hard about getting adequate nutrition. Snacks high in protein are the best for fueling your body and giving you a little boost until you can actually sit down for a meal. A few of my favorite go to snacks are: cheese sticks, yogurt, hummus or guacamole and carrot sticks, or a handful of almonds.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

If you’re a new mom, you may be thinking how am I supposed to get enough sleep when my baby doesn’t sleep longer than two hours at a time? This is a valid thought and your sleep is definitely going to be different now that you’re a mom. Even sleeping when the baby sleeps, may feel impossible to you because your sleep cycle is so off now that you’re up all hours of the night. But talk to your friends and family about how you can get some help to make sure you’re at least getting 6 hours a sleep at night, even if that time is broken into smaller chunks throughout the day.

Support from other moms

We’ve all heard the term “it takes a village to raise a child“. But until you become a mom, you probably don’t get what that really means. It means that it’s entirely impossible to do it on your own. Maybe you’re a single mom and you HAVE to do it on your own, but are you really doing ok? If you’re an introvert like me, the idea of meeting a mom at the playground and actually asking her to hang out probably seems like the last thing you want to do.

Luckily, there are groups out there who have made the getting to know you part a little easier. I joined a local moms club when my 2nd was only 6 weeks old, because getting out of the house was a must for us. Looking back now, I honestly don’t know how I would have survived without those moms. Now I consider some of them my best friends. When we moved last year, we even moved into a new home in the same neighborhood so we wouldn’t lose those connections.

If you live in a more rural area, one good thing that has come out of the pandemic is that now many of these groups meet virtually. So there really is something for everyone. PSI has a list of free support groups on their website and is another good place to look if you aren’t sure what’s available in your area.

Seek professional help

If you’ve tried these things and still feel like you spend more time worrying than not, it may be time to seek professional help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been found to be very effective in treating postpartum anxiety as well as postpartum depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, helps you identify problematic thoughts that lead to unhelpful behavior. With a therapist you can learn to reframe those thoughts to positive thoughts and develop healthier habits or behaviors.

Some people need medication to give them the extra boost they need to manage their anxiety. Unfortunately there is a stigma about mental health and even more so about taking medication to manage it.

Just because you take medication for anxiety or depression, it doesn’t mean that you are weak and it definitely doesn’t mean you are crazy! It may be something you only need temporarily and it can be like training wheels to help you use the coping skills you learn in therapy. No matter what getting help looks like for you, remember that this too shall pass.

If you’re in the state of Georgia, you can reach out to Patrice here to schedule a free 10 minute phone consultation to see if you’d like to work with her.

5 Quick Tips To Help You Beat The Winter Blues

Many people notice a change in their mood during the winter months. You might experience an increased sadness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or a disruption in your sleep. It could be because the days are shorter and your time exposed to natural sunlight is significantly less this time of year. Add to that the colder weather and the fact that most of us spend less time outside in general. This can lead to our bodies producing more melatonin. The body naturally makes more melatonin when it’s dark. So, when the days are shorter and darker, more melatonin is made. More melatonin can cause a disruption in our circadian rhythm (or sleep cycle) making us more sleepy or lethargic. 

“Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” says Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at the National Institute of Health.

But when the change in seasons causes you to feel sad or unmotivated to the point that it interferes with your daily functioning, it may mean you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). SAD can also include anhedonia or the inability to enjoy things that you used to enjoy. The good news is that both the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder are treatable.

5 Tips For Beating The Winter Blues

Here are five things that you can do to beat the winter blues. Most of these things are free and easy to do.

1. Get Outside

Licensed psychologist Rachel Goldman, Phd says, “Being in the sunlight helps balance serotonin activity (the happiness chemical), balances your circadian rhythm (or sleep cycle), and increases vitamin D levels, which can all lead to an improved emotional state.”

As hard as it may be, getting outside during the winter months is crucial to staying balanced and avoiding the winter blues or SAD. So bundle up and go outside for a walk, even it’s just for 5 minutes. Once your body gets warmed up you more than likely won’t realize how cold it is.

If being outside isn’t an option light therapy- exposure to a special light for a certain amount of time each day may be helpful.

2. Check Your Vitamin D

Many people don’t get enough vitamins in their diet and vitamin d is one of the few that has been scientifically linked to mood. If you are not getting outside very often, you’ll also miss out on getting vitamin d naturally through sunlight. If you’re feeling depressed or a decrease in energy, you may be deficient in vitamin d. Consult with your medical professional to see if you need to take vitamin d supplements.

3. Stay Hydrated

Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water and our brains are actually made up of about 75%! We lose water throughout the day and it’s important to replenish our supply so that our bodies can function properly. Drinking water actually stimulates the hormones that produce endorphins- there are those happiness chemicals again.

4. Spend Time With Friends and Family

Being around others can significantly impact our mood. We all were born with an innate desire to be connected to others. Even if you’re feeling down and not in the mood to hang out with your friends or family, reach out to someone to let them know you’re having a hard time. Chances are they will want to help and will suggest something you can do to get out of your funk. My friends and I have a code word that we use to let the others know that we are having a hard time. They know that if I say I’m riding the struggle bus, that I need them to come over and drag me out of bed or to call my therapist.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a research based form of treatment that focuses on helping you understand your thoughts and behaviors and how they affect your mood. The cognitive part is about challenging your negative thinking patterns and learning how to flip the script in your brain to healthier more helpful thoughts. The behavioral component includes learning coping skills for your anxiety or depression that can help you move forward and live a happier life.

In a recent American Journal of Psychiatry study, researchers described a trial that compared the use of light therapy alone to a combination of light therapy and CBT. Results were positive in both groups; however, after one year, participants treated with CBT were faring much better than individuals treated with light therapy alone. Further analysis controlled for ongoing treatment still revealed that the CBT participants showed more improvement.

If you aren’t sure if what you’re experiencing is the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, seek help from a trained professional. I offer a free 10 minute phone conversation where we can discuss if working with me might be a good fit for you. Fill out the form below and I will reach out to schedule a time for us to chat. You can also check out to find a trained therapist in your area.

Navigating Maternal Mental Health

Did you know that 1 in 7 women experience either postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety after having a baby? The good news is that there is help. Before I started specializing in helping moms, I had no idea how prevalent postpartum depression and anxiety are. I also didn’t realize how many resources are available.

I know that as moms, we often put our own needs on the back burner because we’re busy taking care of our families. Sometimes even if you know something isn’t right, you might not know how to get the help you need. Not only is there a huge stigma attached to mental health and admitting that you need help, but it can also be overwhelming making it hard to know where to start.

Fighting The Stigma

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I had undiagnosed postpartum depression with my first child. My OBGYN actually prescribed an antidepressant when I went for my check up. I couldn’t stop crying and I had answered a few questions about how I was feeling. But at the time, I was so against taking medicine even as a therapist who was recommending it to her clients! I was just so afraid of how it would make me feel. I worried if it was ok to take while I was breastfeeding. After talking to some friends, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who thought being a mom was hard.

This made me feel better and I never took the prescription that I had filled. But after years of suffering and having multiple professionals recommend antidepressants, I finally agreed to try them. Through lots of trial and error, I’m finally happier than I have ever been. I just wish that I hadn’t waited so long to accept help.

It’s ok to not be ok, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Getting help doesn’t make you weak. It actually makes you stronger! If you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed to the point that you think it’s interfering with your ability to take care of yourself or your child, you may need to seek professional help. If you don’t know where to start, here are some websites to guide you through the process.

5 Maternal Mental Health Resources

1. Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Support International is full of resources for moms and their support systems. They have FREE online support groups as well as a helpline that you can call or text and someone will call you back to answer your questions or connect you with resources. They also have an online directory of qualified perinatal mental health providers so that you can easily find someone to help in your area.

2. Mother To Baby

Mother To Baby is an organization that is full of information about the safety of medications and other exposures during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It can be scary to think about whether or not it’s worth the risk to take medication for depression or anxiety while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But sometimes the risk far outweighs the cost of not getting help. Mother To Baby can answer your questions with expert, confidential, and no cost information via phone, text, email, or chat.

3. National Postpartum Depression Warmline- 1-800-PPD-MOMS

This is the toll free number that you can all to reach a volunteer at Postpartum Support International who will help connect you with resources for postpartum depression or anxiety in your area.

4. Psychology Today

Psychology Today is a free database of therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health providers. You can simply enter your zip code and search for professionals by name, zip code, or city. You can also read a brief description of the services each person offers and request an appointment from there.

5. Call Your Insurance Company or Healthcare Provider

Most doctors have some training in mental health and can complete an assessment to see if you might need specialized treatment for anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. Your OBGYN should be able to provide you with some referrals to psychiatrists or therapists in your area. You can also call the phone number on the back of your insurance card to request a list of referrals.

Other Resources For Moms

2020 Mom

2020 Mom is an organization that works to close the gaps in maternal mental health. They offer trainings for professionals and resources to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health.

Our aim was to shine a light on the problem, change the narrative from calling the range of disorders “postpartum depression” to “Maternal Mental Health Disorders” and identify the barriers and solutions.”

You can become can become an ambassador for maternal mental health by doing good deeds to help raise awareness. Share your postpartum story to help other moms see that they aren’t alone and 2020 Mom may post it on their website.

Push Thru Podcast

The Push Thru Podcast is written by fellow maternal mental health therapist, Keisha Reaves. She talks about postpartum depression, her own postpartum story, and other challenges of motherhood. Keisha also has a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia where she specializes in treating moms. She has made it her mission to normalize therapy and assists women who are trying to conceive, have infertility issues, currently pregnant, adjusting to motherhood, dealing with postpartum depression or have experienced infant loss.

Running In Triangles

Running In Triangles is a blog written by two moms who are also sisters. Their goal is to help spread the message that motherhood isn’t a competition and there isn’t one perfect way to do it. They have lots of good resources on their website about motherhood from maternal mental health, to breastfeeding, and even gift guides.

The Blue Dot Project

The Blue Dot Project was created by Peggy O’Neil Nosti, a mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety with her third child who wanted to find a way to let other moms know they were not alone. Peggy created a subtle image of a blue dot and a silver lining to illustrate hope. 

The symbol was selected by the former National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health after one of its member organizations, Postpartum Support International hosted a contest to seek symbol ideas. The symbol is now being used in multiple ways to promote awareness and solidarity. 

You can help the Blue Dot Project by participating in their annual Blue Dot Run and join together in solidarity with other women to lift the stigma and shame surrounding maternal mental health.

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts is a book written by Karen Kleiman, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center. It’s filled with stigma busting cartoons that help moms validate their feelings, share their fears, and start feeling better. It’s a great resource for busy moms, their partners, and families.

The Recovery Village

Some mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression may turn to substances to calm and relax the stressful feelings. Beyond having potentially negative effects on the infant, substance abuse can result in an addiction developing. The Recovery Village provides individuals with the tools needed to eliminate their addictions and any co-occurring disorders, such as depression, that caused the initial substance abuse. If you or someone you know might need help with substance abuse or addiction, a representative at The Recovery Village can assist you with getting help or exploring what treatment options might be available.

Pickles & Ice Cream

Pickles & Ice Cream is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving maternal and infant health outcomes across Georgia through education, access to resources, and advocacy. You can connect with other moms through their message boards, gain valuable information about motherhood on their website, and join their online groups or classes tailored to specific topics.

I hope these resources help you navigate the challenges of maternal mental health. If you want to talk to a licensed professional schedule a free consultation with Patrice. Remember, you are not alone!

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

If you’ve heard of impostor syndrome, chances are you’ve probably felt it at least once in your life. It’s actually a term that’s somewhat new to me. I first heard it a year or so ago when I was telling my husband that I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing as a blogger.

He told me there was actually a name for that- Impostor Syndrome. It’s when people doubt their skills and accomplishments and they feel like a fraud. When I looked it up, I found out that it was pretty common for bloggers. It helped to know that I was wasn’t the only one who felt this way sometimes.

Now that I’m exploring my options for going back to work as a counselor, I’m starting to feel impostor syndrome again. I haven’t done it in so long and I’m afraid that I won’t know what to say or how to help. Plus how can I help others when I’m dealing with my own problems? Surprisingly, I’ve learned that many counselors feel the same way. The more I learn about it, the more I see that most people have felt like an impostor at some point in their careers.

Letting it stop you from trying the thing you’ve always wanted to do isn’t the only option though. I’ve been working through mine with my counselor and today I realized that for me impostor syndrome comes from being a perfectionist. I put too much pressure on myself to be perfect. So I don’t feel like I’m an expert because I’m not perfect.

But expecting perfection from myself or anyone else is unrealistic. No one is perfect! No matter how hard you try, you can’t know everything there is to know. So instead of focusing on what I don’t know, I’m working on paying more attention to what I do know.

pinterest pin Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Fighting Impostor Syndrome

To overcome impostor syndrome, I’m working on reminding myself these things:

  • I have the skills I need to be a good counselor.
  • Not only do I have a Master’s degree, but I went through all of the steps to get licensed.
  • I care enough about helping others that I want to make it my job. That has to be a good place to start.
  • Before I had kids, I was building a successful private practice. My clients were coming back so they must have thought it was helping.
  • If I don’t try, I’ll never know if I could have been successful.

This is still a work in progress for me, but I will always have to keep learning and working on myself if I want to be good at anything.

If you’re trying something new or going back to work after some time away, maybe you’ve had the same fears I’ve had. What has helped you to work through the self-doubt?

Related Post

More Than Just A Mom

10 Tips For Surviving Disney With Kids

Last month we got to go on a trip to Disney with our kids. It was one of the best family vacations we’ve ever had. It also took 6 months to plan and caused me alot of anxiety! Check out Disney Bound for more about my experience planning our trip.

I was lucky enough to have some friends who gave me lots of good advice. I also joined a Facebook group where I learned about the best restaurants and which rides we had to go on.

So I wanted to share some of those tips with you in case you’re trying to plan a trip to Disney with kids.


pinterest pin 10 tips for surviving Disney with kids

1. Lower your expectations, and then lower them again.

You’ve probably heard people say that Disney is the most magical place on earth. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty magical and my kids will tell you that this is true. But if you go to Disney with kids thinking everything is going to be unicorns and rainbows, you will be disappointed. If you go to Disney in July it will not feel magical the whole time. It will be hot and it will be crowded.

Expect long wait times and don’t expect every Disney employee to be willing to bend over backwards to make your trip the most magical vacation you’ve ever had. I’m not sure where that came from, but our experience at The Beach Club was far from it. The resort was beautiful and the pool was amazing. We enjoyed our stay, but all of the cast members working there didn’t seem to love their jobs like we expected them to.

2. Bring water and snacks.

Most moms know not to leave home without a bag full of snacks, but I didn’t realize how important this would be at Disney World. Having a snack on hand when waiting in line with bored and hungry kids can be a lifesaver! Or maybe my kids are the only ones that get hungry when they’re bored.

I also wish we would have brought our own breakfast. We ended up ordering breakfast from the store in our hotel every morning. Not only was it expensive, but it took time that we could have been spending in the parks.

Another thing I wish we had brought was water. Again, I almost always bring water with me when we go anywhere, but for some reason we didn’t bring any with us.

One night we stayed at the pool until closing, and by the time we got back to our room the hotel store was closed. My husband searched the whole resort for at least 30 minutes trying to find bottled water. He never found any. We could have easily brought our own, and I actually saw several people bringing it in by the case at check in.

As far as bringing water to the parks, you can bring 1 or 2 bottles and then fill them up at the restaurants for free.

3. Choose your bag carefully.

I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to bring a bag with me to the parks. I didn’t want to have to find a locker to put it in while we went on the rides. But of course, like usual, I ended up carrying everyone’s water bottles, ponchos, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Also there was a space to put your bag on every ride so finding a locker wasn’t necessary.

I brought a medium size Kavu sling bag, but there were times I wish I had a larger bag.

Of course, the bigger the bag you bring, the more you’ll end up carrying and the heavier it will be. So I would keep that in mind when deciding which size bag to bring.

4. Make dinner reservations ahead of time.

This was something knew to me as a Disney rookie, but I’m glad that someone told me ahead of time. Right now, you can book your Disney dining reservations 60 days in advance if you’re staying in one of the Disney resorts.

I recommend setting a reminder in your phone once you know when you’re going that way you won’t forget. You can book the reservations for all of the meals during your stay 60 days in advance from the first day of your stay.

We had some really good meals on our trip, and I’m so glad that we had reservations for them. We were lucky enough to get dinner reservations at Be Our Guest, and I think this was our favorite meal.

Not only was the food really good, but the service was amazing and it was really cool when the beast made his guest appearance. I thought maybe my 9-year-old was too old to appreciate it, but the next day he asked if we could go to more restaurants with characters.

Other restaurants that we enjoyed were:

5. Use the Disney app.

We loved having the DisneyGo app. You can not only use it as a map, but you can also see wait times for the rides. We decided what to ride next based on the wait times and could avoid walking all the way across the park for a ride that had a really long wait.

The app is also helpful for ordering quick service food and finding last minute dinner reservations.

6. Build in some down time.

This was one thing that we failed to do this trip. We learned our lesson the hard way, but now we know. Next time we go to Disney, we will make sure to plan an extra day where we don’t go to any parks. If you’re staying at one of the Disney properties you can lounge at the resort pool or you can spend a whole day shopping at Disney Springs.

7. Wear comfortable shoes.

We walked over 5 miles every day that we were in the parks, so having comfortable shoes is essential. I recommend wearing tennis shoes and if you can bring an extra pair. There’s nothing worse than having to wear wet shoes and you’re bound to get caught in the rain at least once on your trip. Since we didn’t bring extra shoes we were able to dry off our shoes a little bit using the hotel hair dryer.

8. Pack sunscreen.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan said “Going to Disney in July is like walking on the surface of the sun.” Even if you don’t go in July like we did, it’s always sunny in Florida. And no one wants to be miserable after getting sunburn the first day you are there.

9. Expect it to rain.

It rains almost every day in Florida. Usually the rain showers are short and sweet, but it still stinks to walk around Disney with wet clothes.

So come prepared for the rain and bring ponchos! If you forget, most of the gift shops carry them, but you can get them much cheaper at Target or on Amazon ahead of time.

10. Don’t forget to have fun!

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to ride as many rides and see as many shows as possible. But unless you’re willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and drag your kids through the parks until closing for at least a week, there is no way you can physically do it all.

My husband and I decided before we even left that the most important thing about our trip was for our kids to have fun. We knew that it was going to be hot and if everyone was miserable we could go back to the pool at our resort.

So on the 2nd day when our boys wanted to do just that, my husband had to remind me that we were there for them. Who cares if you don’t get to close the park down? Maybe you miss the fireworks show, but if your kids are happy that’s what should be most important.

What tips would you add for surviving Disney with kids? Tell us in the comments and be sure to share this post with your friends!

Disney Bound

When you plan a trip for six months, the pressure to get it right can feel overwhelming.

Add in a trip with kids where you’re spending thousands of dollars to what’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth and the fact that you tend to over think everything. And it can start to feel like you’re planning your wedding all over again.

A friend asked me if I felt like my families’ happiness was on my shoulders and it was like she was reading my thoughts. Except she isn’t a fortune teller. She’s just a mom who has planned a Disney trip or two.

I spent the week or two prior to our trip feeling almost frozen. All of the pressure had gotten to me.

The pressure that I had put on myself. My kids have only been to Disney once and they were only four and one. So really they had nothing to compare this trip to. They didn’t know how many or what kind of rides to expect.

The Spiral

Even still I had overwhelming anxiety about our trip. I started having anxiety about my anxiety. This wasn’t really something new to me, but this time it felt like it was never going to pass.

My anxiety had me fooled into thinking that I’d be too anxious to enjoy Disney World.

What has the world come to that moms are spending their time worrying about whether or not their family will have fun on vacation? It’s not that I didn’t have anything else to do. I just couldn’t get these bad thoughts out of my mind.

Thankfully once we set out to drive to Florida, all of that did fade away. It was like Disney was somehow already working it’s magic on me.

Am I the only one who has experienced this roller coaster of emotions? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Stay tuned next week for tips on surviving Disney World with kids.