December 2016
Self-Care Your Way
Self-Care Your Way
December can be a hard month for parents without the additional challenge of having a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Parents and especially moms can feel overwhelmed by all the preparation that falls to them. There are so many expectations and glossy images of what happy holidays "should" be, and they rarely match what holidays really look like in our homes.
Although self-care seems like yet another task to accomplish this month, this is EXACTLY when taking care of ourselves matters most. But maybe we need to rename "self-care," since that term is overused and conjures up pictures of just pedicures and date nights. What about just "well-being habits" or "sanity savers"? What if your well-being habits this month included: really good coffee; eating breakfast; a weekly phone chat with your sister who really gets you. Or what if effective self-care meant what you let go of: hosting the holiday dinner; making hand-made gifts (unless you like to!); obsessively checking Facebook or Pinterest and comparing yourself to idealized versions of others.
Our Parent Corner this month gives some additional tips for what realistic self-care could mean for you. And one great well-being tool that we look into this month is mindfulness. We have some specific tips to incorporate mindfulness into your life, as well as a review of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and its impact on postpartum depression.
We wish you peaceful and joyous holidays.

As always, we welcome your feedback about our newsletters!
In This Issue
Parent Corner
Simplifying "Self-Care"

As a new parent, you have likely heard or read over and over that in order survive new parenthood, you need to make "self-care" a priority. And you are likely saying to yourself "How the #@$% am I supposed to add this to my never ending to-do list?!" We get it. It's not easy to make time for things these days. And maybe you're even feeling guilty about possibly taking time out for yourself when you have a needy baby and equally stressed-out partner to think about. We're going to tell you for what I know seems like the millionth time--TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF IS NOT SELFISH!!!! Read that last line again. As many times as it takes to help you accept that you cannot go on always being #2 or #3 or even further down the list. Really, that's not sustainable and it's not healthy.

This "self-care" stuff doesn't have to be a big deal, either. Maybe we need to look at it a little differently. It's not necessarily about spa treatments and self-pampering, although if you can swing it, we're all for that! What it is about is being healthy and re-charging. Bottom line: self-care = taking care of yourself.

Do you feel sick? Slow down and take it easy until you feel better.

Have you showered today? Take 5 whole minutes in the shower without thinking about what awaits you when you're finished.

Are you hungry? Eat something, preferably balancing the healthy with the chocolate, and really taste what you're eating.

Are you tired? Ask someone to hold your baby so you can get 20 minutes of rest.

Been awhile since you've done some physical activity other than rocking your baby? Go for a 5-minute walk. Sign up for an exercise class (some will even let you bring your baby!). Find a short routine online. Turn the music on and dance!

Once you have the basics covered, maybe you can move on to the more indulgent (ha!) things like setting appropriate boundaries--saying yes to help and no to doing things you can't handle (even if you really want to be able to do it or if you used to be able to handle it).

Take care of yourselves and finish that coffee before it gets cold!
In Depth

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without judgment.

Why Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been found to develop emotional and cognitive understanding, bodily awareness, as well as to strengthen interpersonal skills. Most importantly, for moms, it helps us to diminish stress, anxiety, and hostility, which ultimately enhances our total well-being, confidence, and contentedness.

Three Mindfulness Tools for Moms


We've been wired to believe that multitasking makes us more productive and more valued in our society. As moms juggling lengthy to-do lists and multiple schedules, we often feel that if we multitask we can ultimately be more efficient and get more done. The research, however, suggests the opposite. The more we multitask, the less effective we are. In fact, not only do we become less productive, but we also become more anxious and less able to concentrate. Additionally, multitasking often leads to more frenzied, stress-filled days. By beginning multiple items on our to-do list and finding ourselves constantly switching between them, we are never able to complete a task as effectively as we would like.  

The practice of paying attention to what you are doing in the moment, or monotasking , allows us to concentrate on the task at hand and complete it more efficiently and effectively. It also alleviates the "scatter-brain," frenzied feeling of multitasking and actually allows us to find activities more enjoyable.  

Taking Breaks to Acknowledge What's Here

Breaks are expected in the workplace.  In fact, breaks are required by law in the paid working world. Mothers need breaks from taking care of others as well, to tend to ourselves. It takes energy to push away and avoid the hard feelings. Having scheduled time to pause for a few moments and acknowledge what's here is an act of self-care that can help us to feel less fatigued and provide more space for focusing on the positive. Allowing yourself to feel whatever is coming up, with kindness and without judgment, is intrinsic to healing.  

Cultivating Gratitude

Research suggests that there are several benefits of a gratitude practice, including improving psychological health, improving physical health, enhancing empathy, reducing aggression, helping people sleep better, improving self-esteem, and fostering relationships. Additionally, one study from the University of Pennsylvania found that writing down three positive events each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months. A gratitude practice does not take much time but it does require commitment. Perhaps it's a daily gratitude journal, a gratitude jar that you empty and review every few months, gratitude letters written to people close to you, or a nightly routine of sharing gratitude at dinner with your family. Whatever the method, creating a daily practice can lead to lasting benefits.

Seligman MEP, et al. "Empirical Validation of Interventions," American Psychologist (July-Aug. 2005): Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 410-21.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Postpartum Depression

In 2015, Dr. Sona Dimidjian, a psychology professor at the University of Colorado, and Sherryl Goodman, a professor from Emory University, collaborated on a study looking at the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as a treatment for postpartum depression.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is an eight-week group treatment approach. It combines traditional cognitive behavioral tools with other strategies, such as meditation and breath work. Two-hour sessions are complemented by daily homework, such as meditation and audio recordings. Participants also learn a technique called the "three-minute breathing space."

The initial study put 49 women from Colorado and Georgia--pregnant or less than one year postpartum, with a history of depression--through the standard MBCT training. Dimidjian and Goodwin then interviewed the subjects and tailored the treatment specifically to this population. They called it MBCT-PD.
A larger and more randomized second trial, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in February of this year, looked at 86 women who met the same criteria as the earlier study. Half of them received the eight-week MBCT-PD class, while the other half received treatment as usual (TAU). The researchers found that the women who went through the MBCT-PD course had a 30% lower of a chance of relapse than those in the control group.
Dr. Dimidjian attributed the lower relapse rate to an increased ability to pay attention to moment-to-moment experience. Awareness of one's individual vulnerabilities can provide what she refers to as a "relapse signature," allowing women to reach out and/or practice self-care in whatever ways feel most helpful.
Continuing Education
Consult Groups: Perinatal Support Washington is partnering with local area perinatal specialists to provide Clinical Consult Groups on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. These consult groups offer a forum to meet with peers and colleagues to confidentially discuss clinical issues. They are suitable for all mental health practitioners. New sessions start in January. For full details, visit our Continuing Ed page.
Join Our Board!
Perinatal Support Washington is seeking a Treasurer to join our board. The treasurer position in our organization is an important role that requires a commitment of at least two years, and attendance at monthly board meetings and at a yearly board retreat. This position has responsibility for all accounting needs for our organization. We encourage those who are passionate about supporting new families and have experience in big-picture financial strategic planning applicable for a small nonprofit to apply. Work is in collaboration with the Program Director and program staff throughout the month. More information can be found here
Giving to Perinatal Support Washington
Special December Giving Campaigns
This month we are seeking funds to help with three projects:
1. Starting two new Women of Color support group--one in Tacoma and one in Seattle. It takes about $1000 to train a new facilitator and $250 to run each support group session.
2. Warm Line- It costs about $250 to train each new volunteer and $25 per phone call with a family.  We serve over 250 families on the Warm Line each year. 
3. Building up our Dawn Gruen scholarship, which provides families with specialized services like psychotherapy, medication management, and postpartum doula services when they otherwise couldn't afford them. The fund pays for up to $700 in services per family. 

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY this holiday season and make a real difference in the lives of new parents.
Employee Giving
Are you a Microsoft or King County Employee or spouse of one?  
Please consider supporting us through your respective workplace giving programs. For King County employees, our code is 9187. Our tax ID is 91-1448669. If you are looking for us, be sure to check our old and new name if you don't see us--we are there.

Warm Line: 1-888-404-7763 (PPMD)

Support Education, Referral
(formerly Postpartum Support International of Washington)