The Sad Moms Club

23. Sustainable Wellness Within Hustle Culture with Erin Shepard, LCSW

September 06, 2023 Joni Lybbert Season 2 Episode 23
23. Sustainable Wellness Within Hustle Culture with Erin Shepard, LCSW
The Sad Moms Club
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The Sad Moms Club
23. Sustainable Wellness Within Hustle Culture with Erin Shepard, LCSW
Sep 06, 2023 Season 2 Episode 23
Joni Lybbert

Welcome back! This is the first episode of season 2 of The Sad Moms Club podcast.

Today I talk to Erin Shepard, owner and clinician and Yarrow Therapy & Counseling Services. She and I talk about something she calls sustainable wellness which is "the idea that a balanced life doesn't necessarily mean a balanced day." She also talks about how to get out of anxiety and depression spirals, do not harm days, and self-soothing. 

Something about Erin is very comforting and validating. I needed this episode when we recorded it in the spring, and I needed to hear it again as I edited the episode in the fall. You'll love learning from Erin!

Resources

Follow along on The Sad Moms Club's Instagram: @the.sad.moms.club

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome back! This is the first episode of season 2 of The Sad Moms Club podcast.

Today I talk to Erin Shepard, owner and clinician and Yarrow Therapy & Counseling Services. She and I talk about something she calls sustainable wellness which is "the idea that a balanced life doesn't necessarily mean a balanced day." She also talks about how to get out of anxiety and depression spirals, do not harm days, and self-soothing. 

Something about Erin is very comforting and validating. I needed this episode when we recorded it in the spring, and I needed to hear it again as I edited the episode in the fall. You'll love learning from Erin!

Resources

Follow along on The Sad Moms Club's Instagram: @the.sad.moms.club

Joni:

Hello. Welcome back to the sad moms club. It has been three months, I think since I came out with episode. Um, may June, July, August. Almost four months. Wow. I took a long break. It was a much needed summer break though. We moved, I'm officially living in Utah and working in Utah now. We had weddings and funerals. I got to meet some of you guys at the climb, which was so fun. Really just such a treat to get, to meet people who actually care about the words that I say into this microphone um, and connect with the people who I talked to, so that was really fun. And then my husband and I went to Europe for a month, which was so great. Truly just like the breaking needed from everything, but we're back and I've been catching up on other things. So it took me a minute to actually start editing podcasts again and start queuing up some new interviews. I'm excited to start again, talk to new providers, learn new things from them and hear new stories from moms. A few announcements I want to make first is that I have started working as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Yay. I'm really excited. Uh, it's at a place called Felicity women's center. Dr. Allyce Jones owns the clinic. It's tiny. It's just her and me right now. and we specifically work in reproductive mental health. So pregnancy, postpartum, fertility, pregnancy loss. And she also does perimenopause and menopause. yeah. Anything in that area. I can help you get started on medication. If you're wanting to do that, I can help you change your medications to find something that works better for you. Psychiatrically, not just like your meds in general, and then I also do therapy. I do take one insurance. It's called H MHI B H N. Or if you have blue cross blue shield for university of Utah employees. I do take that insurance. Outside of that, we do take cash pay so you can pay using, like a credit card or debit card, but also your HSA, FSA, Bishop pay, money you find on the street. Whatever you want to do. I can also create a superbill for you to submit to your insurance, to see if they'll cover a portion of the cost. Our intakes last two hours. So we get really in-depth with symptoms you're experiencing, your reproductive history, your social history, your medical history, your family medical and psychiatric history, goals you have, coping skills you currently have, things you've already done, things you want to look into, and then I write up a really detailed treatment plan for you. I do realize that cash pay is not accessible for all of you guys. So that's why I wanted to keep doing the podcast you can still ask me questions and I can still help you get connected to people who take your insurance. If you need that. but if you do want to see me, you can call or text our number. It's 801-893-9564. And if you Google Felicity Women's Center, it says it's located in South Jordan, but we're actually in Draper. Which is a whole story. we do virtual appointments as well. So, I'm really excited. I'm excited to be practicing and excited to meet some of you guys and have you guys, as my clients. The second thing is that I am putting on an event with Ripple Effect Counseling the owner's name is Anj Lineback, and she already has a group of women that she gets together with regularly. So we're combining forces. Hanging out and getting to know each other better and hopefully making some connections and potential friends in the future. We are going to do that event on September 20th, from 6 to 9:00 PM. her office is in Salt Lake City, right next to Sugar house Park. So those details would be put out. Cause I imagine you don't have a notepad to write down an address right now because you're in the generation where you don't do that. yeah, so six to 9:00 PM. It's totally free. it's going to be like a potluck. So bring food if you want. There's no pressure to no one cares if you don't. and we'll just go around, get to know each other. We'll encourage those friendships and. guide people to one another. So it should be a really good time. I'd love to see you there. If you don't come, I'll probably do something else in the future. So don't feel pressure to come this time. you're welcome to bring your kid if you don't have childcare, but I think you'll probably have a better time. If you are able to find childcare. So obviously whatever is best for you is best for us. We have an area where the kiddos can hang out. We have some toys. or Anj has some toys at her office. So they can come. Just keep in mind how much fun you have when your kids around. Those are the two main things I want to talk about. Now. I want to introduce our guest a little bit. So her name is Erin Shepherd. She owns Yarrow Therapy and Counseling Services. She's a licensed clinical social worker. And she talks about something called sustainable wellness, which meant pretty much zero to me. But I promise you, you want to listen to this episode. It's so good. Even listening back to it now, it was helpful for me once again, in like my day currently. so I'll let her explain what it is cause she just does a better job. Keep in mind that we recorded this in the springtime, it was in the beginning of May when I decided I'm like, I just need to take a break right now. she's going to reference some things about springtime. And just recognize that. Even though this is being released in fall. We recorded it four ish five months ago. I think that's all that was the longest intro in the world But Let's get started Well Erin, I'm so glad that we get to talk today. thanks for being on the podcast. Can you just start by sharing a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in this field of work?

Erin:

Yeah. I had, graduated and I was seeing kids in state's custody actually, and had always thought I would work with kids and families just as the years went on and my own family growing and, changing. That started to not work as well with my schedule around when I start to think this isn't working like I thought it would. I just had these very distinct interactions with people that knew I was a therapist that were struggling with perinatal mood disorders and just were not knowing where to reach out or how to reach out and just that overwhelming burden of their anxiety and depression was so bad, and childcare and just thought of getting themselves ready, getting their baby ready, getting their baby somewhere, having that interrupt. Feeding and nap schedules was a huge trigger for their anxiety and depression. And so I started to think about their needs and how disconnected they were with services and tried to think like, how could we bridge that? And it was 2017, so before Covid and before we all got used to Zoom and online things. And I started to look into doing therapy through telehealth and kind of the ins and outs of insurance and I adopted this idea of everything is figureoutable because it was what about this? What do you do about this? How do you work out this? And so I got all of that kind of worked out and ironically it all came together the same weekend. Amy White was doing, the PSI conference and so I registered the day before and went and I remember sitting there and just taking in all of this information and I just realized how. Clinical it was and how deep it was, and I was hooked. I loved the concept of knowing by working with the mother you were potentially, you know, this ripple effect of all of the relationships that a mother impacts, with their children, with their partners with the community and just at large, how crucial and important those relationships are, throughout the lifespan. And so that's how I got hooked on perinatal mental health.

Joni:

I got chills when you said That I love that.

Erin:

yeah, it changed the perspective on everything I had. And now since then, I haven't lost that hunger to learn or that respect and just awe and humility, to work with such a important and courageous population.

Joni:

Well said. I wish I could explain it like you do. People ask me and I'm like it's just like the best work I've ever done. It almost feels like a calling.

Erin:

It just, it catches you and once you're caught, there's no going back.

Joni:

Yeah. It's just like true. I don't know, like flow when I'm in those sessions with those women, I'm like, this is what I was meant to do. I don't know. It's the best thing. And working with that population is just so rewarding. Seeing them take those steps and they're just great people and Yeah. I love it.

Erin:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Joni:

Cool. So you've been doing it since 2017 or that's kinda when you started your own practice or,

Erin:

So both, that's when I transitioned to specializing in perinatal mental health and my practice began in specializing in perinatal health. So 2017 was the year of change for me of no return.

Joni:

You are so ahead of the curve too, of the

Erin:

Just by a little bit.

Joni:

No, but that's pretty significant and it's cool that you saw that need ahead of time because every single person in the community's, like my mom's love telehealth. It's so good for them. For some of them it's good to get outta the house, but like for a lot of them it's those barriers of I have so much I have to do. It's almost not worth it to go because it's brings up so much anxiety for me so that's really cool that you saw that need. A little earlier on than the rest of the world.

Erin:

I remember at first when I would tell people, like other therapists, I would just get this blank stare. It wasn't like necessarily that's not gonna work. Or like a judgment. It was just like a, what are you doing? Like how are you doing this? And then fast forward, unfortunately we all had, a big baptism into the world of Zoom and that sort of thing. But it's worked out really well.

Joni:

That's neat. So today we're gonna talk about sustainable wellness, and I first just wanna talk about what do you mean by that and why it's important for those with chronic mental health needs?

Erin:

So it's a term I am making up on the fly, so hopeful. Hopefully it works, but it's just this idea that there are a lot of people that throughout their life will just have these ebbs and flows and constant battles with mood disorders. Mainly anxiety and depression. And we know that is one of the risk factors that then leads to a mother developing a perinatal mood disorder. And keep in mind, risk factors don't mean absolute, right? Like you can have a history of anxiety and depression and not have that surface during, your window of perinatal time. But we do know that it's a risk factor. And so what we try to do is we try to look at those risk factors and pair them with protective factors, things that are gonna help this specific individual. But a lot of times when we have that undertone in our lives of depression and anxiety. It prevents us from reaching for those wellness pieces that are gonna help. So most recently, I saw this meme and it just said, always be excited to see your kids. And I was like, what a helpful, useful thing. Like on a good day, on a bad day, on a busy day, on a hurried day, if just those instant interactions with your child can be positive. But then immediately my mind went to those that, that really struggle with depression

Joni:

Right. That's where mind and I went too. That's stressful. I don't wanna tell that to my moms.

Erin:

No, it could be a huge barrier, right? Because it's just too far outta reach. And that outta reach then feeds into that depression of you're not doing what you should be doing, or You're not a good enough mom, or, you have failed your kids because you can't give them this excitement. And so when I use the term sustainable wellness, I kinda wanted people to apply that to their individual life, their resources, their situation what's practical for them in a sustainable way. So we're looking long-term the idea that a balanced life doesn't necessarily mean a balanced day. Today I might not get in all of the wellness things I need to that are important for my health. But what I don't get in today, hopefully I can balance out and sprinkle in a little bit tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and by the end of the week or by the end of the month, majority of the time I have been consistent at sprinkling in wellness behaviors to create that balanced life. But that doesn't necessarily mean a balanced day.

Joni:

I think that's a great way to discuss it because that's a common conversation of how do I balance all of this stuff? And it's not, we look at it like hour by hour sometimes or day by day. But I think that's a really good zooming out perspective of what wellness can look like. Can you gimme some examples of, I, I get that it's individual, but some wellness behaviors that you might encourage someone to do or that you might talk about in a session.

Erin:

Yeah, that's a great question. So I think sometimes first, beginning with their strengths, what do they enjoy? And sometimes again, we have to take off that like cloak of depression or that, that cloak that anxiety puts on us of what we should be doing or depression puts on us of how we're not measuring up and looking at what do YOU enjoy doing? And that's such an important place to start because we are not going to do the things we don't like doing. And it's duh, of course not. We don't like doing them. But really, if I don't like meal planning and I don't like spending a lot of time in the kitchen prepping my foods to put on this wellness behavior of nutrition, that's gonna be overwhelming for me because I don't like it. And starting with the things that you like, and sometimes that's really hard for moms, sometimes there's a lot of grief because there's so in the midst and the struggle that they've really separated themselves from that. So even pausing to grieve where they're at versus where they've been. If someone can say, I really enjoy walking my dog, or I really talking to my friend, or I really like putting together outfits and doing my makeup, great. Start with the things that you liked to do and then trickle those things in. So if it's, you know, what, in the past I've always really liked being able to get ready and put on my makeup. And we're so far removed from that. A wellness behavior would be starting with we're gonna shower every day. A wellness behavior would be like when it's nap time, instead of all of the list of what you should be doing, go ahead and put on some music and spend some time doing your makeup or doing your hair. So starting where they're at with the things that they did like doing, and sometimes if it's things that aren't like. Kid friendly, right? Like mom friendly, I really like hiking and trail running and mountain biking and skiing. There were a couple of years where those kind of things were few and far between because they weren't as like user friendly, right? But I could walk in my neighborhood or I could exercise at home, or I could, build that in monthly or that sort of a thing. So it's this concept of looking at wellness behaviors. Main areas of that are like nutrition, exercise, adult time, social interaction, personal interests. Sleep is a huge one. So these are all wellness behaviors, and we're not going to get all of them in all of the time. But it's important for us to weigh out which ones make the biggest impact for me and for me to recognize that. Or you, or, our moms that we're working with,

Joni:

I, I have some like people in my mind that I think would push back in a certain way. Do you mind kind of ask you what they might ask? Okay. So one person I have in mind is like a family member who gets so deep in their depression that leaving their bed is a huge deal. I mean, I guess if they're meeting with you there, there is some forward movement, but how do you encourage someone to like, I don't know, how do you work someone when it's like, it's true baby steps. It's not like you're gonna go out and go on an hour long walk and then go talk to a friend. Like it, it's a very different approach. How do you approach that?

Erin:

I am so glad you brought this up because I think this is a really important part that gets overlooked. And when it gets overlooked, we shut down and we shut those out that are truly struggling, and it pushes them down even further. And to someone that's I can't even get out of bed. Okay, can you keep a bottle of water next to your bed so that you're at least drinking water when you get up to use the bathroom? Can you open your blinds so that light can come in? Right now, luckily it's a nice day. Utah's kinda had a crazy spring, right? But could you open your window for some fresh air? What are you wearing? Are they, sweats that you're really comfortable in? Are your feet cold? Can you put on socks? So it's really meeting them where they're at and connecting that no matter where we're at, there are wellness practices that are going to help us. And the hope is if I'm hydrated, if I have my blinds open now, maybe I can actually get up at some point in time in my day, right? And now that kind of creates that momentum that I can do it again tomorrow. Or that, not all is lost on those days. When I'm stuck in bed. Or even saying okay, let's talk about your bedroom. What kinds of things are you looking at? Can you have pictures that remind you of happy memories or good times? Or a picture of something you love, the mountains or the ocean, or something. C an we build things that are gonna be in your view, that are going to encourage you to see outside of that depression?

Joni:

That's so helpful. I think it's hard when I, I don't struggle with depression. I'm much more of an anxious person. If I'm really anxious, I'm depressed. That's not important. I have a hard time understanding that level of depression'cause I've never felt that. It's it's good to hear some ideas because I think even like as a friend or family member I, I had to have a a friend sit down with me and be like, you don't understand what this looks like. Like You have been maybe sad and had really hard times, but this is like a different of depression. And so I think it's helpful to hear like what some of those wellness behaviors can be that might seem small to someone else, but are actually huge for that

Erin:

Mm-hmm.

Joni:

So yeah, I really appreciate that. I also think it's hard if you're that depressed sometimes you don't have interests. yeah, Nothing sounds worth it because life is pointless so it's hard to start building on those interests when it, it doesn't feel worth it. And so, yeah, that was very helpful. Thank you.

Erin:

I like that you bring in that dance between depression and anxiety. And some of us do tend to run anxious, and some of us do tend to run depressive and how that fuels us, right? Like depression pulls us down further. All of the things that we're not doing, it's one more thing, one more reason that this is pointless or this is worthless. And when we're running anxious, then it becomes like I have to, or a, I should or if I don't right. And that pressure, but there's a dance there and I think that, All of that, wherever we're at on that spectrum, those wellness behaviors look different to balance.

Joni:

The other pushback I had. I feel like I see. A lot of moms who don't really know what they're interested in. So do you give them ideas or lists of things or how do you explore that with them?

Erin:

keep in mind, like we're jumping to like, different points in their treatment. And so all of these would be like much, much smaller steps. So if like we knew that they weren't getting out of bed, the question is gonna be like, oh, what do you love doing? It's did you not hear me? I'm not getting outta bed. So we would start there and we would build on that. But making it Playful a curious thing you know, to explore what do you enjoy doing? I use the phrase it's okay if everything feels lost. Moms are really good at finding things right. It's okay for you to reach a point where you're like, I don't know anymore. I am so depleted. I'm so lost. I don't even know. And, normalizing and joining that space and being like, yeah, that's hard to leave a life that you knew so well and naming that sacrifice and, honoring that. But then saying we get to start fresh. So let's be curious about tomorrow. What kind of podcasts would you like to listen to? What are you interested in? And it doesn't have to be parenting related, it doesn't have to be breastfeeding related. Just kind of like, let's explore this. What kind of books would you like to read? Pay attention in your day for anything that gives you that little spark or excitement. And then building from there. And I try to go back to things that they're already familiar with. And so if they can pull on past experiences or if they have something current you know, they're really committed to going to this once a week neighborhood playgroup. Great. When you're there, ask the other moms or people that are really connected to social media. Sometimes that can be a huge hazard and a problem for people, but other times it's not. I'm like, Hey, great. Follow photography accounts. Follow making cookie accounts, follow, all of these little interests you have and see which ones create that spark without pressure. Like we don't wanna add in things of I have to get to this today. We wanna add in things that I get to or I look forward to when it's nap time. I look forward to doing this. That sort of a thing.

Joni:

Yeah. So in your mind, think of this Track, this circular freeway, so to speak, and you just keep going around the same circle over and over again. And it's negative because you don't ever get off. And there's just these like points, right? So a depressive feedback loop, it might be the thought of, I don't feel well enough to engage in wellness behaviors. This is kinda what we've been talking about, right? So that's the first thought. So when someone's

Erin:

like, well,

Joni:

why don't you go for a walk? Why don't you call a friend? Why don't you? And their thought is you're not hearing me. I don't feel well enough to engage in wellness behaviors, right? So that might be their first thought, but then that leads to feeling guilt or shame or discouragement or like a failure, because I don't do, I don't go for a walk. I don't do these things. So now that's their next stop. And then, that kind of leads to. Not participating in anything that improves our wellness or creates hopefulness. And so now we're just kinda left with this hopelessness, and now they're back to that same thought. I don't have enough in me to engage in wellness behaviors. And now, pretty soon they've gone around this circle so many times that we don't even know where we began. We just know that we are like looping around. And so that is a negative feedback loop because all of that feedback we're giving ourself just keeps going in that circular motion and it's not helping us at all. I picture like a spiral down. Like you just are on this rollercoaster ride going down. And it's getting worse and worse and impossible to get out of. Can you explain? It's probably similar, but like the negative feedback loop within anxiety.

Erin:

Yeah. So with anxiety, you're just switching those thoughts for things that propel and feed anxiety. We'll start at the same point because that's kinda helpful. That thought of, I know I can feel better if I try harder, if I do more, if I control these variables, if I plan, if I organize, if I prepare right that fuel I'm just gonna do it all. Now this type of a situation, we have that list of all those wellness behaviors and do or die. We are getting them in every single day. And now it takes us to feeling revved up. That perfection of hitting that then distorts those efforts that we're putting in. We feel exhausted, we feel discouraged, we feel broken because what we are doing isn't ever good enough. And what we are doing is too good and we're drained basically. And then we're led into more of a burnout place. We have less tolerance for frustrations which kind of creates these negative reactions. And then we go back to that if I plan better for tomorrow, if I organize better, if I'm more prepared, I'll be able to handle these situations. I think of the diaper bag. They're putting everything but the kitchen sink in the diaper bag and then, when there's a frustration and they don't have it tomorrow, they're putting more energy into filling that diaper bag with everything. So again, same thing. It doesn't matter where you started on this loop, you are just circulating going around and around and around, right?

Joni:

I can see myself in those in small ways and I see other, yeah, I think that's really a helpful image. So how do you get out of it?

Erin:

So you kind of wanna look for your own little exits, your own little pull offs, right? So if we think of our brain we have these, neural pathways. Our brain wants to operate like anything else as smoothly and as effortlessly as it can. And what better way to do that than on a freeway? There's certain places we go on the freeway that sometimes we can get there and we're like, I don't remember that drive. And that's equally scary. And also kinda oh, okay, I'm on my way to work. But that's the freeway, right? So our brain works the same way. If we have this thought, this negative thought and it can just happen and just. Cruise on cruise control straight to the next spot. Even if it's not healthy, it's smooth and it's efficient. So we have to start to think about if I'm gonna take an exit, it is going to be awkward. It is going to be rough. It is like taking a dirt road that maybe isn't driven and has like a ton of sagebrush in the middle of it. And so it's like the whole way on it. And you keep thinking like, I just wanna be on the freeway. No, you don't. You don't wanna be on the freeway. A lot of times I'll say to my clients, just because something's familiar and comfortable doesn't mean it's healthy and adaptive. Sometimes being on that dirt road is actually so much better. So we wanna look for these exits and I think there's some things that can help us do that. So I'll just kind of name'em and then we can go back and talk about which ones you're interested in. But the first is self-soothing. The second one I use a lot is parts work. And then the third one I think is really helpful is meeting your own needs.

Joni:

Hmm. Those are all good. Let's talk about each one a little bit. So how do you recommend someone self-soothe?

Erin:

Okay. Self soothing is always an interesting topic because we hear this and especially for those kind of still in a perinatal window, we're surrounded by it a lot because we heard about with our babies, right? And sleep. But sometimes I think we forget that it is a life skill. It is something that we should always be checking in and doing for ourselves. And a lot of it requires mindfulness and self-compassion. The idea that if I only have 30% to give, that is my hundred percent. And I use that a lot in terms of like our self-talk and our behaviors and the things that, that we're doing. If we're in a mindset of always judging ourselves for what we're not doing, where we're not at, we are not self-soothing, we really have to step into that place of I have done the best I can. I am doing what I can, right? Using these types of phrases. And a lot of times that takes some mindfulness. Sometimes people have to go back and we have to relearn this because we have been so busy multitasking and juggling things and valuing our productivity over our worth that truly being just present in the moment is really difficult to do.

Joni:

Oh yeah.

Erin:

And so encouraging people to use their senses again, sometimes even going back and labeling like, what are my senses? Oh, what I can see, what I can hear, what I can taste, what I can smell, what I can feel, and, having them practice that in situations. So in middle of the night feedings you know what sounds, do you hear? Oh I hear my baby. What do you smell? Oh, I, I smell my baby. I smell me, I smell, spit up, whatever. I realize I'm hungry. I haven't eaten. I could use a drink. What do I feel? Oh, my shoulders are hunched over all the weight's in my hip. My lower back's hurting. Just kinda walking through your senses and getting familiar with doing that at different times during your day, at different times of activation. If, a mom has like toddlers or little kids home with them, I always am like, practice this with them. This is a fun thing to do with your kids. Everybody's revved up, everybody's fighting, everybody's bored. Can it take a few minutes and make it a game? Okay, let's play that sense game. What do we see right now? What do we fill? Some people like to do that by counting on their hand, and they'll do five things. They can see four things. They can, they do it based off of like familiarity, right? But you could do it however you wanted, but you count down or you could do everything at once. But usually that's kind of where I'll start with a mindfulness practice. Another one I use a lot for my moms is I'll tell them to narrate their care. And this is something I learned from a nursing presentation actually, but the idea that like when a nurse goes in, You're doing things for your patient, but it's very empowering for the patient, for them to know what it is you're doing, right? And so step by step, you say the things you're doing, okay, now I'm gonna check your blood pressure. Now I'm adjusting your bed. Now I am, gonna refill your water, or whatever those steps are. But for a mom, I think it can be really helpful in those moments where feel that like low tolerance of frustration or that overwhelm kind of buildup. Pause, narrate your care. Okay? I got my bigger kids off to school. I got my bed made, I brushed my teeth. I got my younger kid their breakfast. I got to work. I'm driving to work and I have both shoes on, and the left's on the left foot and the right's on the right foot, right? Like Depending on the day, you can break down that narrating your care as very specific as you need to. Because every day those are different. Hurdles, right? Those are different barriers. I actually took my meds this morning, right? Sometimes those are things that we forget. And so if we actually remember, that's worth narrating that care. So it's not looking at where we're going that, gap in what we don't have done. It's pausing and looking at what we have done. And the other part of self-soothing, if I'm just like spitting this all out as quick as I can to you would be self-compassion. And that's wrapped up in, in both of these things. Mindfulness is a principle of self-compassion. Narrating your care, is giving yourself that self-kindness. But the third part of self-compassion is common Humanity. And it's just recognizing this situation is unique It is deeply personal to me, and intimate and common humanity doesn't minimize that, it's not comparison suffering where we're like, somebody else has it worse, but sometimes it's so helpful to recognize other people could struggle with this too. I had a friend who just randomly did an Instagram story. She was trying to hang like the stickable wallpaper and she got really frustrated and she just got on her Instagram stories and she's like, guys, I see everybody doing this. Is it hard for everyone? Because this is really hard for me. Like me and my husband are fighting over it at this point in time. It's been six hours, it's after midnight. And she just laughed because in came all of these comments about oh, it's the worst. I never do it again. Me and my husband fought like this, and

Joni:

It looks so easy on Instagram.

Erin:

We see that. Yeah, it's no big deal. But that would be that common humanity piece that for her, her frustration in that moment was deeply personal, but once she recognized, wait a second, other people probably have struggled with this too, or other people can understand this, and then she reached out, it calmed her frustration down by just recognizing we, we share these experiences, even though ours is personal, we're not comparing mine to yours, but we're just saying I got you girl. I know that can be hard too.

Joni:

I love that.

Erin:

Those are the pieces of self soothing.

Joni:

Yeah, I think I even feel like I experienced this recently where I was having a really tough day using all my coping skills. I'm still having a tough day, like it's not going away. It's just one of those days and having self-compassion, being like, It's okay that you're having a hard day and that you're doing everything. It's like even in using the skills, being compassionate if they're not quote"working", if you're not feeling better quickly or, or that day even. It took some time. It took sleep, it took discussing it with multiple people and that helped calm me down. But it wasn't like the senses were helpful for me in the moment, but it didn't make it go away right away. And so I think self-compassion is just like so key to like every skill we learn. Recognizing that it doesn't mean that you're doing it wrong or it doesn't mean that it doesn't work, it's just that maybe this is really hard for you or maybe it's bringing something really big up for you. Yeah, there's so many reasons why a skill might not work immediately.

Erin:

I love that example, and I'm so glad you shared that because that is that sustainable part of what we're talking about and the idea that you relied on those things for that period of time and it didn't immediately make it go away, right? It's so uncomfortable. We want that switch to flip. We want like just one of those tools to flip it in reverse and turn everything better and sunnyside up. But the truth is sometimes it doesn't. And that is that sustainable part of this. But you didn't stop, you didn't throw in the towel and just walk away from all of it. You stuck with it. And that's growth. There's this phrase of like, handling hard, better, and these types of things help us do that. We're not discrediting the hard, it is going to be hard. We're learning new things. We're in a role that's foreign to us. We're in a position that, comes with a lot of personal sacrifice and difficulty from, every angle of life. And so these things aren't gonna make it all better, but what we're looking for is things that are gonna sustain us through that growth process.

Joni:

Well Said. So can you explain the concept of parts work and how it can be helpful? And then I know just in case people have listened to Laura Parry's episode, she does talk about parts work a little bit. But. Not everyone's listening to episode, so I'd love for you to explain a little bit and say how it's helpful.

Erin:

Okay. So parts work is, it's used in a lot of therapeutic modalities, so I'm going to like, make it super, super simple. But it's just basically the idea that as a self we have different parts of us. So the part of me that's interacting here with you isn't the same part that's going to, be interacting with my preschooler when he gets home from school. Or the part of me that goes to work or the part of me that shows up, at a girl's night, it's all me. It's all authentic. It's all who I am, but there's gonna be different parts and sometimes that's really helpful for people just to recognize that it's okay to have these different parts. But sometimes we also have to kind of look inward. And this is where it gets a little bit more therapeutic, but looking at ourselves and recognizing what parts of myself are there. And typically we kinda have a protective part and we have a part of us that is more of a decision maker or feels like they need to be in charge and be an adult. So I think of these parts of self as like my board of trustees, and we're all in a boardroom, and I'm gonna have a c e O and I'm gonna have a boss and I'm gonna have the guy that lightens things up and I'm gonna have the person that takes really detailed notes and keeps us on track for the meeting. Right? My protective part, everybody has a seat at the table. Everybody is invited. But sometimes what we do is we have a child part trying to be an adult. So I think of the five-year-old that walks around with like a clipboard and a pencil behind their ear, or the girl that dresses up in the high heels and has the purse and is like walk-in shaking the keys and pretending to talk on her phone, right? Like we have these children that are really good at playing adults, but they're not actually adults. And something about being a child is we don't have power and control. We don't have the ability to make choices. And so when we have a child part acting as an adult, we get stuck. Black and white thinking, those types of things. So sometimes just inwardly asking ourselves, what part is in charge right now? And is that the part that's most helpful? Because a true adult part can figure things out. A true adult part can problem solve, a true adult part can delegate. If this isn't working, everybody's fighting, it's too loud in here, everything's a mess. I feel like a slob. I just wanna go, hide away. Asking ourself, okay, what would an adult part do? Okay, I can ask the kids to turn off the tv. I can do something to distract their attention. I can, do something to take care of baby. Now you're looking at your different choices and your options, and that is really critical to this whole process.

Joni:

Can you briefly walk me through like a scenario, a common scenario, you might discuss that with a, client. That might be a bad question, but I feel like, like for me, for parts work is so theoretical, I have a hard time applying it. Until I applied it and then I was like, okay, I'm starting to get it. Does an example come to mind?

Erin:

Okay, so here's one. And it's actually, I'm gonna use it as a personal example'cause I think back on this a lot, but right after I had my first. It was like a very distinct 180 in my life. I graduated from grad school, took my licensing exam, and then had my daughter within three weeks. And although I had prepared for nine months for this transition to motherhood, I still wanted to make it like systematic, like I wanted a syllabus and I wanted to like, you know, cross off the assignments, that sort of thing. And I remember the first week my husband had gone back to work and my mom wasn't there anymore. Just really struggling and my husband called from work and he is like, Hey, can I go golfing after work? And I just remember in that one comment, my whole world just shattered because I really wanted to wash my hair. That's what I wanted to do. And I had been counting down for the minutes. He would get home from work so that I could wash my hair. And when he asked to go golfing, I just it just has shattered everything for me and like I'm extremely postpartum at this point in time, right? So I say yes because that's what we do, right? And he goes golfing and I'm huffing and puffing and mad all evening long because I feel like I can't wash my hair. That was a very child part, pretending to be an adult. I wanted to be this mom that like just seamlessly could fall into this role of, Being a stay at home mom and taking care of my daughter and having my hair washed and letting my husband go and golf and have everything be okay. If I had been showing up as an adult part, what I probably could have said to myself is, he has no idea you want to wash your hair. He's asking if he can go golfing. Like you can say, no, I really need to wash my hair. Or, what time will you be back? Can you play nine instead of 18 so I can wash my hair? There could have been a conversation around this, or there even could have been a thought. The reason I hadn't washed my hair is'cause I felt like I couldn't depend on how long she was gonna sleep. And, I didn't wanna get in the shower and have her wake up. I could have moved the bassinet into the bathroom with me. There's lots of things an adult role could have thought around negotiating that. But instead I went to this child role where now nobody was seeing my needs. I was picked on and, it just, it built.

Joni:

Yeah, that's helpful. I feel like that'd be worthy of exploring for myself. I think there's sometimes I act or I do things and I'm like, wow, I thought I've learned past that. I kind of going back to what you're talking about, that's like the freeway, that's the easy reaction sometimes or the easy choice and then you have to Be consciously choosing something different that might be more uncomfortable or hard or yeah, more adult-like. That's really interesting.

Erin:

So it's a practice. So for me, a lot of times even now, like any situation that comes up when I feel that shutting down or that turning in or start having thoughts of you can't do this, or I'm not good enough. The first thing I think of my boardroom, and I'm like, okay, who's leading this meeting right now? And is it the part that is serving me the most? We're not gonna kick anyone out of the party'cause I do need that protective part. And I, I do appreciate that note taker making sure we have all the details, but should they be in charge right now? And first having that conversation with myself before I do anything externally. Just having that conversation with myself and it does take a lot of self-soothing to get there. Does take a lot of mindfulness, but that's before I even do anything externally with anyone else in my environment is check in with myself of what part is leading.

Joni:

Yeah. That's really cool. I like that. I like the images. I like that you're an image person'cause I need something to latch onto when we're talking about more theoretical stuff. That's helpful. And then the last one you recommended was taking care of your needs. Is that right?

Erin:

Yeah, so this is a big one. And I'm gonna kind of reference Emily and Amelia Nagoski's book. It's a book about burnout. I think the title is Burnout and Locking, the Secrets of the Stress Cycle. But they name this idea of having a culture of human giver. So we have human beings, and technically we should all be human beings. But actually what happens is we assign some people human givers, and typically this becomes women. And because we have this culture, it's kind of built in and we're doing so much better at moving past this, but the idea that like self-care is selfish or that you can't have needs, all of these things go back to the toxicity of having a human giver. Because when we have a human giver, their job is just to give everything to everyone else. I think a really good example of this is a very traditional, family dinner where you're at grandma's, and grandma she's made the meal. She set the table, she served everyone, and then she's oh, we need salt. Okay. And she gets up and gets the salt, oh, we need butter. Oh, you don't have a knife? Oh, you need a refill. And everybody else is eating. And grandma is just meeting everybody's needs. That is the human giver. And so sometimes I think we just have to pause and just recognize this is a part of our culture. Julie Hanks has a concept of there are some things that are taught and then there's some things that are caught. So maybe we were taught, hey, when you're hosting, you meet everybody's needs. But then there's some things that were caught. We were at dinner and we saw the woman not eating and feeding everyone else and doing everything else for everyone. And now we think that's what we need to do too. So we kind of have to go back and recognize we're all a part of this culture and what things were taught to me and what things did I catch that we're just caught. And now separating that out. But first, and this is such a foreign concept, I shouldn't rely on my partner to meet all of my needs. I am a human being, I am an adult and I should actually be meeting my needs. Now an important part of a relationship is that you're supporting one another and you're there to care for one another. And I'm not discrediting any of that, but we can't do that until we're healthy enough, right? It's kind of the, the the airplane analogy. I have to secure my gas mask before I can help somebody else. So we're talking about our very basic needs and first having permission to meet those and then being able to ask for the things that we need. Hey, I could really use an hour of alone time. I could really use time to wash my hair, right? There's that example again. But we have to watch for and this is that caught or taught or part of the human giver syndrome. But sometimes as women, I think we are conditioned to be martyrs and that is valued and we really kinda have to put on the brakes on that and say No, I don't need to be a martyr. Sometimes I think we forget that we can pace our own lives. If things are moving too fast, if things aren't moving fast enough, we can pace that and we can express those needs and we can bring those things up.

Joni:

I love that so much. This is a very common concept with women across the lifespan. This is like not just perinatal women and it's easy to get caught up in that because you do catch this idea of what it means to be. I guess a good person, a good woman, a good friend, et cetera. So what are some behavioral changes you suggest to clients? And you talk to me about like less to do, more to be, which I'm guessing has to do with that being thing. Can you explain that a little bit?

Erin:

To your point. We have all of these roles that we're trying to fulfill and they're all important. We want to be a good mom, we want to be a good friend, we want to be a good partner, right? Like we professionally, there may be goals there that we have. Those are all really good things, but that locks us into this very rigid, to do mentality and focusing on that productivity. But sometimes when we can shift to like to be, and a lot of times when we're struggling with our health or different things, we might have to slow down. Sometimes you have to let some things go in order to let some things grow. And sometimes that process is recognizing, like the connection in our relationships. I can make a much simpler meal for my family and I can actually enjoy my kids' company while we make it. We can eat off of paper plates every once in a while, right? You might have values of environmentalness and, and that's gonna change that for you. Find your own paper plate, whatever that might be. But, shifting those to dos to bes, what things are gonna help me be. If cereal for dinner helps me be, have cereal for dinner. Thinking about our transition times when we're getting in and outta the car when we're coming in or when we're leaving, focus on the relationship. And what's gonna make you feel better about the relationship sometimes with this too? I think looking at our relationship with our to-dos and who are we doing them for. I actually really enjoy having a clean space. It helps me mentally just breathe and think. I like having a clean space, probably more so than anyone else does in my home, to be honest. And I thought for a long time I was cleaning for them. I was cleaning to take care of our home for them. And when I finally shifted and realized they don't care if all of their crap is all over the counter, they don't care if all of their shoes are all over the floor. No one else cares but me. So when I transition to recognize I'm doing that for me. So now I can, turn on music and I can recognize I'm doing this'cause it makes me feel better. Or when I'm really burned out and I'm super tired and I don't have the energy to, I don't have to push myself to do those things because I can say to myself, I actually need sleep right now. Not the counter cleaned off. Shifting those things around to see what matters to us is being.

Joni:

Erin, you are fantastic. These are so many good ideas and you explain it very well. Gosh, there's a few more things I wanna talk about. Do you have a couple more minutes?

Erin:

I'm okay if you're okay, but if you need to go, we can do this later too.

Joni:

Okay. Yeah, I'm good. Let's see the last one you mentioned was the do no harm days. What does that mean?

Erin:

So let me

Joni:

I'll just tell everyone. Erin gave me a list of things that she wanted to talk about, and one of them said, do no harm days, and I don't know what that means.

Erin:

perfect. Okay. Okay. Okay. You actually did a really good job when you gave your example, like when you were struggling with something and you'd done all of the self-compassion things and it just wasn't clicking. And there are these days, I'll admit, last Wednesday, I think it was like we'd had two days where it was like 70 degrees weather. And then I woke up to snow and it was like, alright, I did all of the things, and I just was discouraged by that variable. And I love the snow, so I can only imagine how that's been for people that are like, give me the warmth. But it's kind of the idea that when you have put in the work you have layered on all of those wellness behaviors and it's just not pulling you up to just kind of recognize this is where I am at today. I can still move forward by just not doing harm. I'm just not gonna break things, so I think about this and how like I interact with my husband I'm not gonna nitpick everything today because that would cause harm, but then I'm gonna have to clean up later. Or, with my kids it might be, we are gonna all watch a show this afternoon, and when I go to the wellness check, I'm just not gonna tell the pediatrician about it. But I'm not doing any harm, I'm not doing any harm to that relationship. I'm not doing any harm to the relationship with myself. I'm just recognizing today is just a get through it day. In the grand scheme of life, this is just gonna be a day that gets me through to the next day. So maybe I just wanna do basic tasks. We're a family of six. Our washer and dryer are constantly going. And so wash to me is a very basic skill. I know if I don't do the bare minimum, it's going to be harder all week long. And so on a do no harm day, I'm just gonna do the basic amount of wash. I'm just gonna do the basic amount of dishes. A lot of times these types of tasks, they rev us up, they increase our depression, they fuel our anxiety, but there's more shelf life to them than we give credit for. I always think like laundry's so considerate. It will just nicely, patiently pile up and wait for me. Like it never interrupts, it never asks when I'm coming to do it. It just patiently waits, right? That's my own brain, my own head. That makes those tasks so overwhelming. And when we're talking about mental health, those are the symptoms we see, right? Like those are the things that overwhelm us. To the point that we feel like we can't make any forward progress, that we're just stuck. And so pausing and just recognizing I'm just not gonna do any harm today. I'm gonna water my plants. I'm gonna be, kind as I can be and not worry about the rest. I'll get to it

Joni:

Yeah. Yeah. I I love that idea. I think circling back to what we talked about earlier with self-compassion and then if you do harm, that's okay!

Erin:

We just repair it and our relationships are strong enough for that too. We just,

Joni:

Yep.

Erin:

it.

Joni:

It's almost like not, it's not fighting those expectations so much. It's more like that radical acceptance of like, okay, today's just gonna suck. I'm just gonna let it suck. And because when you have that expectation of being a great day, then then there's a lot of other emotions that come up that can be difficult to deal with and can do harm. at least that's my interpretation of it. Do you think that's right?

Erin:

Yeah, absolutely. And your example, if I have this expectation, I've gotta turn around today and it's gotta be phenomenal, I'm gonna dig that hole a lot deeper, right? And it's harder to come back the next day from a really really low point. But if I've recognized it snowed, it sucks, something didn't go well at work. I'm learning something new, baby's teething, whatever it might be. But it can just kinda be this little like divot. Just get through it and now I don't have as much ground to make up for tomorrow. And that's kind of the goal with this is when we've kind of recognized today sucks. It's a do no harm day. We're not thinking anymore about today, we're thinking about sustainable, we're thinking about the rest of the week. And I don't wanna waste so much energy on these high expectations of turning around today when I know it just snowed today and it's gonna warm up again. But depression and anxiety really cloud our ability to see anything besides where we're at right now.

Joni:

Definitely. Yeah. When I started like engaging with that radical acceptance piece, it really helps'cause we all have expectations and I have so many for me, for everyone around me and when I can just be like, yeah, this just sucks. There's a, a relief to that'cause I don't have to change it anymore. I can just be like, yeah, and I can change it still. But it's just recognizing I'm allowed to feel this. I'm allowed to have this bad day. I don't have to make it. Okay. I can just, I can just exist today and get the bare minimum done.

Erin:

But what you kind of brought up there is that our expectations aren't necessarily the problem. We just wanna make sure that we're pairing them with observation. And the observation is, I am going through something really difficult right now. I'm learning something new. My baby's learning something new. I've never done this before. I didn't sleep well. I haven't slept well this whole week. My period's starting All of these things would be observations. So our expectations don't actually have to leave. We just want to pair that with the observation that maybe today that expectation's too rigid. So what little things can I do to contribute okay, I'm still gonna show up at work. I'm, still going to nurture and take care of my baby even though they're fussy and I'm gonna be fussy too. We're still working towards that sustainable right? Long, long term.

Joni:

Yeah. It's really zooming out of that moment. I heard the other day on a podcast, I love Armchair Expert, it's like my favorite podcast. And he said, we kind of do that where we just think the whole world is ending like all the time,

Erin:

Mm-hmm.

Joni:

gets better. And,

Erin:

Surprisingly.

Joni:

being like, oh, the world isn't gonna end. I just have to get through this. It's just hard. it's definitely hard and it's a practice. So I love that everything you've talked about is a practice and it's, putting it into your life, but not putting everything in your life right now. Yeah. This has been fantastic. I wanna go to you for therapy. This is the problem with interviewing all these therapists. I'm like, now I wanna see everybody.

Erin:

For sure. For sure. We are connected to a wonderful community, and that's what I've loved about your podcast is how like it really, truly has brought everyone together in this, this one place. And you can, see those resources and, and that, that's so important too.

Joni:

Thanks.

Erin:

your work and what you're doing.

Joni:

Oh, well thank you. Yeah. That was the goal. I just think everyone in this community is fantastic and I've only had great experiences with everybody, so I would see any of the therapists I've talked to or providers in general. Okay. Tell me about name of your practice, how to contact you, what insurances you take, stuff like that.

Erin:

So my practice is Yarrow therapy. The website's, Yarrow therapy, social media handles Yarrow therapy. And a lot of times I'll be asked like, Yarrow, what what is that? So Yarrow's a plant, but the root has been known to like, when it's ground up to stop bleeding and, and, help increase healing. kind of thought of this work and what I wanted to do, symbolically and metaphorically, I'm like, that's what we do as therapists. right? We wanna stop that bleeding. We wanna stop that trauma. So often I see women that really had traumatic experiences in their perinatal years. And now like it's continued to, to build and fester and erode their relationships years later. And so kind of that idea, like we wanna stop that bleeding and once we can stop that bleeding, we can increase that healing. And then contact me through my website. Email, phone number, everything's through there I'm on social media. That's a fine way to contact me too. I always just encourage people, like no matter what point of contact you have, maybe that's not the right fit for you. And I am kind of speaking for everyone in our community in that way. But we're all connected. And the most important part is that you get the treatment you need. And so maybe you reach out to me and I'm not the best fit for you. Well, Guess what? I know amazing people in the field. And let's find you someone that you can. The saddest stories to me are when people say I reached out, I didn't like him and I didn't know where else to go. And I feel like we've created a community where it's like, no, reach in and we will take care of you one way or another. And I think that's, that's super important.

Joni:

Absolutely. What insurances

Erin:

select Health, Cigna, Aetna Behavioral Health, or UnitedHealthcare are kind of the main ones. and I suggest checking with your provider because sometimes, even though you're paneled with an insurance, Certain providers might not be paneled for your particular plan. And so even if you have that, that overall reaching plan of one of those still reach out and double check that. And then if you do private pay I have two therapists that I have hired on this fall that are both phenomenal. And so it's so nice to be able to have those resources. They're paneled with the same insurance as I am, but self-pay rates, we can kind of be flexible and, and work with that. So any three me or the two therapists that I've hired would love to be able to work with you.

Joni:

Awesome. That's exciting that you're expanding your practice a little bit.

Erin:

Yeah, it's been good.

Joni:

Very cool. Well, Thank you for your time, Erin. I've loved this.

Erin:

Okay. Thank you.

Joni:

Thanks for listening to the podcast today. Thanks for coming back. Just a reminder that if you're not already subscribing to the podcast, that helps other people to find it. And if you could leave a rating. We have a whopping I think 23 right now. So if you could leave a rating, even if you just put five stars and don't write anything. It helps people to find us in the future. Find this podcast in the future. I don't know who us is. It's literally just me, myself and I, that does this. If you've listened from the beginning, you know, that I typically in the first season have gone over studies. And as much as I liked doing that, it was so time consuming. So perhaps I'll do it sometimes if I feel. The need to, or want to. But I do not feel the need or want most of the time. Maybe sometimes you'll hear that in the future, but more often than not. I will not have an article that I reviewed in the end. Kay. I hope you guys have a great week and I'll see you next time.