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Pod Wisdom: Bridget Cross on Parent Self-Care and Breaking Cycles

In episode 15 of the Yes Collective Podcast, perinatal mental health therapist Bridget Cross, MSW, talked about the depression, anxiety, and sometimes trauma that many new mothers face. One of the most challenging beliefs that Bridget comes across is the idea that a mother’s self-care is selfish. The other belief is that self-care is like a mini-vacation (massages, spa days, etc.).

Bridget dispels these ideas by explaining that real self-care comes from actions that build resilience (she calls it self-regulation) and leave parents feeling more centered, clear-headed, and emotionally connected. This self-care is the farthest thing from selfishness—it’s necessary to break generational cycles of anxiety, control, or emotional neglect.

I think with new parents, especially new moms in the first three to six months, one of the prescriptions (for self-care) is you have to get outside every single day. And it doesn't matter if it's pouring rain or a hundred degrees like it is in Savannah a lot of the time. But you have to see the sky and see the earth and get some sensory input from outside every day. Even if it's just for 30 seconds, you have to do that every day. And then also, you have to have some time away, physically, from your baby, where you can't see, hear, smell or touch them every single moment. That could be a minute or whatever she might be able to tolerate because some moms really can't tolerate that. It's too anxiety-provoking.
I also feel like what I'm always working with our clients around, but especially the new parents is trying to learn about and understand how you best regulate your own emotions and nervous system. This comes back to what you were saying: we have to teach our kids this, but a lot of us don't know how to do this for ourselves as well. And truly, like I didn't really before.
I mean, I had an idea of yoga. I like to take a walk. I like the beach. But that was sort of the extent of it. And now I really, really know that these are the things that I actively can do to regulate myself.
And so that's something that I'm always trying to really work on: identifying what are those things that help me regulate myself? Offering out some options based on what I feel like might work for the person, but also just having them experiment with different things because like for some people, meditating and breathing is great. And for other people, it's like the worst. And they need to go like run 10 miles or whatever. And it doesn't matter what it is, it's just about do you feel a sense that your body and your nervous system have been regulated? Ok, then do that. And like we have to carve out time for that. And I think that all of those things can feel like a lot to a new parent with a little baby who is totally overwhelmed. But it's also totally possible…

Justin then chimed in to add that he didn't really understand how important self-care was until our son Max was diagnosed. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we’re actually doing our kids a disservice. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we'll get triggered a lot easier and we can’t show up for them with our full selves.

Bridget responded:

That's so true, and I feel like I am often using that reframe, especially with the new mama. I hear it all the time: I feel like I'm selfish if I go do yoga for five minutes. And I'm just like, you are not doing this for you. You are doing this for your entire family, your kids, your partner. Make no mistake that this kind of self-care is essential. I feel like it's talked about a lot: I go get a manicure, I go get a massage. Right, totally. That's nice, but that's not what this is. This is actually self-regulation. And you are actually doing it for everyone else who relies on you. It's not for you!

Pod Wisdom: Bridget Cross on Parent Self-Care and Breaking Cycles

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Pod Wisdom: Bridget Cross on Parent Self-Care and Breaking Cycles

Self-care for parents isn't selfish, it's a must! Here's why.

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Key takeaways

1

Many of us parents think that self-care is selfish or that it should be a mini-vacation

2

Real self-care is increasing our resilience and ability to show up as our full selves for our family

3

The self-care practices that build resilience and the ability to show up are different for every parent; the first step is in finding what works for you

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In episode 15 of the Yes Collective Podcast, perinatal mental health therapist Bridget Cross, MSW, talked about the depression, anxiety, and sometimes trauma that many new mothers face. One of the most challenging beliefs that Bridget comes across is the idea that a mother’s self-care is selfish. The other belief is that self-care is like a mini-vacation (massages, spa days, etc.).

Bridget dispels these ideas by explaining that real self-care comes from actions that build resilience (she calls it self-regulation) and leave parents feeling more centered, clear-headed, and emotionally connected. This self-care is the farthest thing from selfishness—it’s necessary to break generational cycles of anxiety, control, or emotional neglect.

I think with new parents, especially new moms in the first three to six months, one of the prescriptions (for self-care) is you have to get outside every single day. And it doesn't matter if it's pouring rain or a hundred degrees like it is in Savannah a lot of the time. But you have to see the sky and see the earth and get some sensory input from outside every day. Even if it's just for 30 seconds, you have to do that every day. And then also, you have to have some time away, physically, from your baby, where you can't see, hear, smell or touch them every single moment. That could be a minute or whatever she might be able to tolerate because some moms really can't tolerate that. It's too anxiety-provoking.
I also feel like what I'm always working with our clients around, but especially the new parents is trying to learn about and understand how you best regulate your own emotions and nervous system. This comes back to what you were saying: we have to teach our kids this, but a lot of us don't know how to do this for ourselves as well. And truly, like I didn't really before.
I mean, I had an idea of yoga. I like to take a walk. I like the beach. But that was sort of the extent of it. And now I really, really know that these are the things that I actively can do to regulate myself.
And so that's something that I'm always trying to really work on: identifying what are those things that help me regulate myself? Offering out some options based on what I feel like might work for the person, but also just having them experiment with different things because like for some people, meditating and breathing is great. And for other people, it's like the worst. And they need to go like run 10 miles or whatever. And it doesn't matter what it is, it's just about do you feel a sense that your body and your nervous system have been regulated? Ok, then do that. And like we have to carve out time for that. And I think that all of those things can feel like a lot to a new parent with a little baby who is totally overwhelmed. But it's also totally possible…

Justin then chimed in to add that he didn't really understand how important self-care was until our son Max was diagnosed. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we’re actually doing our kids a disservice. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we'll get triggered a lot easier and we can’t show up for them with our full selves.

Bridget responded:

That's so true, and I feel like I am often using that reframe, especially with the new mama. I hear it all the time: I feel like I'm selfish if I go do yoga for five minutes. And I'm just like, you are not doing this for you. You are doing this for your entire family, your kids, your partner. Make no mistake that this kind of self-care is essential. I feel like it's talked about a lot: I go get a manicure, I go get a massage. Right, totally. That's nice, but that's not what this is. This is actually self-regulation. And you are actually doing it for everyone else who relies on you. It's not for you!

In episode 15 of the Yes Collective Podcast, perinatal mental health therapist Bridget Cross, MSW, talked about the depression, anxiety, and sometimes trauma that many new mothers face. One of the most challenging beliefs that Bridget comes across is the idea that a mother’s self-care is selfish. The other belief is that self-care is like a mini-vacation (massages, spa days, etc.).

Bridget dispels these ideas by explaining that real self-care comes from actions that build resilience (she calls it self-regulation) and leave parents feeling more centered, clear-headed, and emotionally connected. This self-care is the farthest thing from selfishness—it’s necessary to break generational cycles of anxiety, control, or emotional neglect.

I think with new parents, especially new moms in the first three to six months, one of the prescriptions (for self-care) is you have to get outside every single day. And it doesn't matter if it's pouring rain or a hundred degrees like it is in Savannah a lot of the time. But you have to see the sky and see the earth and get some sensory input from outside every day. Even if it's just for 30 seconds, you have to do that every day. And then also, you have to have some time away, physically, from your baby, where you can't see, hear, smell or touch them every single moment. That could be a minute or whatever she might be able to tolerate because some moms really can't tolerate that. It's too anxiety-provoking.
I also feel like what I'm always working with our clients around, but especially the new parents is trying to learn about and understand how you best regulate your own emotions and nervous system. This comes back to what you were saying: we have to teach our kids this, but a lot of us don't know how to do this for ourselves as well. And truly, like I didn't really before.
I mean, I had an idea of yoga. I like to take a walk. I like the beach. But that was sort of the extent of it. And now I really, really know that these are the things that I actively can do to regulate myself.
And so that's something that I'm always trying to really work on: identifying what are those things that help me regulate myself? Offering out some options based on what I feel like might work for the person, but also just having them experiment with different things because like for some people, meditating and breathing is great. And for other people, it's like the worst. And they need to go like run 10 miles or whatever. And it doesn't matter what it is, it's just about do you feel a sense that your body and your nervous system have been regulated? Ok, then do that. And like we have to carve out time for that. And I think that all of those things can feel like a lot to a new parent with a little baby who is totally overwhelmed. But it's also totally possible…

Justin then chimed in to add that he didn't really understand how important self-care was until our son Max was diagnosed. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we’re actually doing our kids a disservice. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we'll get triggered a lot easier and we can’t show up for them with our full selves.

Bridget responded:

That's so true, and I feel like I am often using that reframe, especially with the new mama. I hear it all the time: I feel like I'm selfish if I go do yoga for five minutes. And I'm just like, you are not doing this for you. You are doing this for your entire family, your kids, your partner. Make no mistake that this kind of self-care is essential. I feel like it's talked about a lot: I go get a manicure, I go get a massage. Right, totally. That's nice, but that's not what this is. This is actually self-regulation. And you are actually doing it for everyone else who relies on you. It's not for you!

In episode 15 of the Yes Collective Podcast, perinatal mental health therapist Bridget Cross, MSW, talked about the depression, anxiety, and sometimes trauma that many new mothers face. One of the most challenging beliefs that Bridget comes across is the idea that a mother’s self-care is selfish. The other belief is that self-care is like a mini-vacation (massages, spa days, etc.).

Bridget dispels these ideas by explaining that real self-care comes from actions that build resilience (she calls it self-regulation) and leave parents feeling more centered, clear-headed, and emotionally connected. This self-care is the farthest thing from selfishness—it’s necessary to break generational cycles of anxiety, control, or emotional neglect.

I think with new parents, especially new moms in the first three to six months, one of the prescriptions (for self-care) is you have to get outside every single day. And it doesn't matter if it's pouring rain or a hundred degrees like it is in Savannah a lot of the time. But you have to see the sky and see the earth and get some sensory input from outside every day. Even if it's just for 30 seconds, you have to do that every day. And then also, you have to have some time away, physically, from your baby, where you can't see, hear, smell or touch them every single moment. That could be a minute or whatever she might be able to tolerate because some moms really can't tolerate that. It's too anxiety-provoking.
I also feel like what I'm always working with our clients around, but especially the new parents is trying to learn about and understand how you best regulate your own emotions and nervous system. This comes back to what you were saying: we have to teach our kids this, but a lot of us don't know how to do this for ourselves as well. And truly, like I didn't really before.
I mean, I had an idea of yoga. I like to take a walk. I like the beach. But that was sort of the extent of it. And now I really, really know that these are the things that I actively can do to regulate myself.
And so that's something that I'm always trying to really work on: identifying what are those things that help me regulate myself? Offering out some options based on what I feel like might work for the person, but also just having them experiment with different things because like for some people, meditating and breathing is great. And for other people, it's like the worst. And they need to go like run 10 miles or whatever. And it doesn't matter what it is, it's just about do you feel a sense that your body and your nervous system have been regulated? Ok, then do that. And like we have to carve out time for that. And I think that all of those things can feel like a lot to a new parent with a little baby who is totally overwhelmed. But it's also totally possible…

Justin then chimed in to add that he didn't really understand how important self-care was until our son Max was diagnosed. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves then we’re actually doing our kids a disservice. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we'll get triggered a lot easier and we can’t show up for them with our full selves.

Bridget responded:

That's so true, and I feel like I am often using that reframe, especially with the new mama. I hear it all the time: I feel like I'm selfish if I go do yoga for five minutes. And I'm just like, you are not doing this for you. You are doing this for your entire family, your kids, your partner. Make no mistake that this kind of self-care is essential. I feel like it's talked about a lot: I go get a manicure, I go get a massage. Right, totally. That's nice, but that's not what this is. This is actually self-regulation. And you are actually doing it for everyone else who relies on you. It's not for you!

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