Elizabeth sits at a kitchen counter with headphones and a laptop

Prioritizing Your Needs Without Any Guilt: Podcast Episode #176

We talk with Elizabeth Andreyevskiy, a stress coach for moms and founder of Emotionally Healthy Legacy.  Elizabeth also has some free downloads for Ask the Doulas listeners!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello, hello.  This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am joined today by Elizabeth Andreyevskiy.  She is the owner and founder of Emotionally Healthy Legacy.  She’s a stress coach for moms and is also a podcast host of the Emotionally Healthy Legacy podcast.  Elizabeth is a mom of four and is super passionate about mental health and emotional wellness and motherhood.  She helps overwhelmed moms reduce mental stress so they can respond with patience and calm toward their kids.  She teaches proactive ways to be less stressed, prioritizing mom needs without guilt and ways to regulate emotions when feeling triggered.  Welcome, Elizabeth!  I’m so happy to have you here!

Elizabeth:  Thank you for this opportunity!

Kristin:  I would love to get into prioritizing your needs as a mother or a mom-to-be for our listeners who are newly pregnant without feeling any guilt.

Elizabeth:  So that is a big one that so many mamas that I talk to, they struggle with feeling guilty for taking time for themselves.  And before we get into that, I think it’s really important to understand what’s going on in our brain when our needs are not met and how that affects our emotions and emotional regulation.  So we have, like, three main parts of our brain that kind of we use when it comes to our emotions and thinking.  So right behind our forehead, it’s our frontal lobe.  It’s the prefrontal cortex.  I call it the thinking brain because that is where we make positive choices, logical thinking, we problem solve, we learn new skills, we mature.  That’s when we – if we’re in that part of the brain, when we’re in a conversation, we are making good decisions in the sense of the way we communicate and stuff like that.  And that’s you and me right now in that part of the brain.  And when our brain senses some sort of threat, it shifts us first into our emotional part of the brain, which is right kind of in the center of our brain.  And what happens is when we shift there, when we sense some sort of threat or a trigger, the emotional part of the brain lights up, and it shuts off the thinking brain because the thinking brain is not necessary for survival, and so our brain just starts to shift us to the emotional part of the brain.  And in the emotional part of the brain, this is when it comes out in our kind of – our brain senses some sort of threat, and it comes out in our words and in our tone and our behavior.  And so that is when – let’s say you have a conversation with your spouse.  You don’t feel seen or heard, and let’s say they ignore something that you’re saying.  That’s a threat to you, right?  And then it comes out into a rude tone, and you’re being disrespectful.  You start raising your voice.  And when it builds up enough, it’s going to shift you to the survival part of the brain, which is our fight, flight, or freeze.  That is where our brainstem is, and that’s definitely when your thinking brain is shut off.  This is when we’re having that big meltdown.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had moments like this, but when – this is when you’re, like, freaking out as a mom.  Like, not just like, oh, I’m frustrated; raising my voice a little bit.  That’s your emotional part of the brain.  Your survival part of the brain is like, everybody hide.  Mom is losing her marbles.  Like, you’re losing your cool completely because it’s the stress buildup with so much in your brain.  There is so much threat response, and so it’s like a toddler having a meltdown, right?  Like, you can’t teach them anything in that moment.  You’re not teaching them ABCs.  Same thing for you.  Like, you literally can’t think logically when the stress has built up so much in your brain.  And the key to all of this, to say more in your thinking part of the brain, is to help your brain feel safe.  And how do we do that?  And I start out with my mamas, because so many mamas prioritize everyone else above themselves, with simple things, such as sleep and eating meals, right?  We take care of our kids.  We give everyone food.  And then we somehow skip our meals.  And we make sure everybody goes to sleep at a reasonable time, and then we stay up so late scrolling on our phones and have poor quality sleep.  Also, sometimes you have a little one, right?  Like, you get poor quality sleep.  And what happens when – those are like the basic needs we all have, right?  Eating and sleeping; resting.  Like, basic.  And when those needs are not met, it creates a threat in your brain, and it will shift you to that emotional part of the brain, and you will be more reactive.  So I’m sure you’ve noticed: when you’re hungry and when you’re tired, you say and do things you wish you didn’t.  Like, if you’re driving on the road and you are so tired and exhausted, and you’re hungry, the person that just cut you off is pissing you off a lot more than if you just had a great time with your girlfriends, you ate a great dinner, and your emotional tank was full, right?  And your needs were met.  Same thing with our families.  Oftentimes, moms are reactive.  They’re raising their voice.  They’re yelling.  And they literally just have unmet needs.  And I always start out with the basics.  I’m like, are you hungry, or are you physically exhausted and tired?  Because if you are, you will be more reactive.  And then we kind of build off of that.  What are other unmet needs that you’re experiencing, right?  Maybe you just literally don’t have enough support.  You’re pulled in too many directions at the same time.  You have too much on your plate.  And so when we don’t take care of ourselves, even with the basics, you will be more reactive.  And then that creates a cycle of mom guilt, right?  Then we go down the spiral of, oh, I’m such a bad mom.  I’m yelling at my family.  I’m yelling at my kids.  Why am I always angry all the time?  And it’s not because you’re a bad mom.  It’s because you’re truly struggling.  You literally have unmet needs.  So that’s kind of the basic foundation I always start out with my mamas.  I’m like, we need to understand this, and then we build off of that.

Kristin:  Yeah, and especially in the postpartum time, whether it’s baby one or baby five, really, that focus on getting rest and nourishment and asking for support.  I feel like as moms, we feel like we need to do it all and be super woman when it’s important to ask for help, and moms often feel a little isolated and left behind when visitors and family members want to hold baby and the focus is on the baby versus the experience the mother just went through.

Elizabeth:  Yes, and I think – so I have four kids, and my youngest one is 16 months old.  When I was pregnant with her, my sister-in-law created a meal train for me for postpartum, and it was for six weeks long, for postpartum.  And I had people bring me meals for six weeks, three times a week.  Obviously, there was leftovers.  I did not have to cook for six weeks.  I think I made rice once, just a pot of rice.  I didn’t have to cook at all.  That is one thing that was off my plate that made life so much easier.  So here’s the mindset shift: you can try to do it all.  First of all, you won’t succeed because we can’t do it all.  You can try to do it all.  You’re going to get overwhelmed.  You’re going to get stressed out.  And it’s pulling from somewhere, okay?  That energy – you have a limited amount of energy, and it’s pulling it from somewhere when you’re trying to do it all.  It’s either pulling it from your physical wellbeing, from your mental wellbeing, or your emotional wellbeing.  Something is suffering, okay?  You’re not going to be able to do it all.  You might for a season, for a little bit, but it’s pulling from somewhere, and something is suffering because of that.  And most likely, it’s you, and then it’s negatively spilling into the rest of the family, right?  You know when Mom is in a bad mood; like, want it or not, it seeps into the rest of the family.  It just does.

Kristin:  Right.  You can be resentful to your partner because you feel like you’re doing more with the feeding needs and wake-ups and so on.  But if the mother’s not asking for help, then there are certainly some easy, actionable ways a partner can help.

Hey, Alyssa here.  I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming.  Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between.  You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood.  You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more.  You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most.  And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls.  If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com.  We’d love to see you there.

Elizabeth:  I think that’s the biggest thing is shifting the mindset and being like, I’m asking for help to support myself and to make things easier.  That’s the reason.  I could do it all, but I’m choosing not to.  I’m asking for help to support myself and to make life easier, and have that conversation with your spouse or family members or friends that are around you in your life.  And here’s the thing.  Oftentimes, we have these conversations with our partner when we’re already overwhelmed, when we’re already stressed out, and we’re super heated.  And we’re like, you never help me with anything.  You always spend time on your phone.  That’s when we’re emotionally charged, right?  Our thinking brain is shut off, and we say things we regret.  So my suggestion for you is to have a conversation with your partner outside of a heated moment and be like, hey, look, I really need extra help and support right now.  Would you please take over with the other kids and put them to bed in the evenings?  Or would you please take over with the meals and make dinner?  Whatever it is.  Actually, I heard this from a marriage book – not “could you,” because, yeah, I could or I could not, but would you please support me and help me out.  I feel overwhelmed and stressed out.  I feel like I need a little bit of extra rest.  Otherwise, I’m yelling at everybody, and I don’t want to do that.  I don’t want to be that mom.  Would you please help me out?  And give them a tangible thing to do because people are like, okay, how can I help you, and I’m like, okay, you can take my kids out to a park.  You know when people postpartum ask you, like, oh, reach out it you need any help.  I’m like, here’s the meal train.  You can sign up over here.  You can bring me a meal, and you can take my kids out to a park next week.  Which day works best for you?  Like, I am always – if somebody offers help, I’m going to take them up on it.  Why try to push through and overwhelm myself and stress myself out if I can make things easier?  And my kids are going to have a great time at the park versus being, like, stuck at home, probably watching screens or something when you’re dealing with postpartum.

Kristin:  Exactly, and taking care of the baby and dealing with nap time.  It’s wonderful.  So I feel like friends and family members want to help, but unless they’re given specific requests, then they feel like they’ve made an ask, and they’re waiting.  Otherwise, yeah, you’re just feeling isolated and overwhelmed.  I love your focus on really setting up some strong communication between couples.  How do you – again, as you’re working with coaching clients, what are your tips for pregnant moms to really ask for help before baby is born and they’re in that overwhelm stage?

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I think that is really important, to ask for help before even the baby is born.  And you can either create a meal train yourself or you can ask a close friend or a sister if you feel weird doing it for yourself.  You can have them create that, and when anybody asks you when the baby is born or even like at my baby shower, people signed up for the meal train, and they just put their email down, and then my sister-in-law sent them a link with the meal train to sign up.  That is one of them.  And I think for me with other kids was having somebody take care of the other kiddos and taking them either for a sleepover or taking them to a park.  I’ve had people ask, hey, can I come over and clean your house?  I’ll be like, yeah, sure.  Come over, wash some dishes so I can sit there and hold my baby.  I know people tend to want to hold the baby postpartum, but that’s not really what I need help with, unless you have a colic baby who screams all the time and you actually do need a break.  Typically, you want to cuddle with a newborn who’s so sweet and precious.  Oh, it makes me want to have another one.  They’re so cute in that stage.  I absolutely love it.  I actually had a postpartum doula with one of my births, and it was really helpful.  She was able to just do some basic things around the house.  She ironed some of my husband’s dress shirts because he used to be a flight attendant, and he was gone a lot.  So that’s one of the things she helped with, ironing the shirts.  She washed the dishes.  She went outside and played with the other kiddos.  It was super helpful for me.  And she was even there for that emotional support, that I could talk to her and just literally share my birth story or talk about how I’m overwhelmed.  Just having someone to listen to you; that’s it.  Just being there.  so that was also super helpful for me.  Yeah, just getting over the mindset block, that it’s a weakness asking for help, and seeing it as a way to support yourself and to make things easier on yourself.  You can also do Instacart pickup or delivery, right?  That’s easier than going to the grocery store.

Kristin:  Exactly, especially during COVID and flu and RSV season, to take a newborn to the grocery store.  Definitely get the delivery service.

Elizabeth:  Yeah, why put yourself through that?  Why do that, if you can make things easier?  And my mom would be like, oh, I’m going to Costco.  Do you need anything?  I’m like, yeah, can you grab these three things, and then Venmo the money or give her cash next time I see her.  So it saves you a whole trip.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Great tip.  And I’m all about registering for services, again, like a postpartum doula that you mentioned or a meal delivery service having premade meals, a housekeeper.  Just some actionable thing, the diaper services, whatever it might be.

Elizabeth:  And those are amazing gifts for new moms, by the way.

Kristin:  Yes, because then you don’t get – I feel like people tend to shop off the registry, or you register for things you don’t need until a baby is one or beyond and in the walking or crawling stage, so then you have extra clutter and things in your home that you don’t necessarily need.  So I’m all about services and things that can make a difference versus having more things to clog up your house.

Elizabeth:  Yes, for sure.

Kristin:  So as far as working with you, what would that look like for our listeners?

Elizabeth:  Yeah, thank you for asking.  So I have a coaching program.  It is called Be Less Stressed.  And in my coaching program, we start out with figuring out the root of your stress, like getting down to the basics first.  Why are you stressed out and overwhelmed, and learning how your external behavior is actually mirroring internal struggle.  I teach you how to prioritize your needs without having any mom guilt.  We talk about how to release stress out of your body because stress collects in our body if we don’t release in our mind.  Healthy ways to release stress and process stress, how to say no to things that drain you, how to delegate to save energy.  How to reduce the stimulation that causes sensory overload, importance of calming your nervous system, because when our nervous system is overloaded, that’s also another reason why we tend to react.  Sometimes we do have met needs; our needs are met, but we just have so much sensory overload, and our nervous system is so tense.  So teaching the strategies, how to calm your nervous system and lift your mood when you’re in a funk and you’re just feeling kind of low.  Rewiring your brain to respond in a positive way.  So many times, we just react in a certain way.  We’ve been doing it for years, but we notice that that’s not how we want to be with our kids anymore or with our spouses because our kids are starting to repeat our patterns, right?  And so we want to respond in a more positive way; just to rewire your brain to respond in a positive way when you’re triggered, when you feel like you’re about to blow up.  Like, what do you do in moments like that?  And communicating your emotions and your needs with your family members and asking for that support.  A lot of my program is shifting the way you think and creating healthy habits that support you in your life right now, in your season of life right now, that support your mental and emotional well-being so then you can show up as that best self for your family.  And yeah, that’s what my coaching program is for, and I’m your support system.  I’m your mentor.  I’m your guide.  I’m making sure I’m checking in with you; you’re doing the work and not just listening and not implementing anything.

Kristin:  Love it.  And they can find your course on your website, correct?

Elizabeth:  Yes, on my website.  It has the details on it, how to work with me, how to reach out to me.  And I also made a special page for your listeners.  There’s three free downloads that you can download.  One of them is positive affirmations for you.  If you lost your cool with your kids and you feel so guilty, it’s a recording of positive affirmations that you can listen to, to remove that mom guilt and see that you’re just struggling in that moment.  You weren’t trying to explode on your family on purpose, right?  And then there’s five strategies to reduce overwhelm quickly, to calm your mind and body when you feel super overwhelmed.  And then if you want to feel in general less triggered as a mom, just in general, I have a training for the mamas, as well.  It’s called Be Less Triggered.  So check that out, and if you want to reach out to me, I hang out on Instagram @emotionallyhealthylegacy.

Kristin:  Nice!  And then tell us a big more about your podcast.

Elizabeth:  Thank you for asking, yes.  So same title, Emotionally Healthy Legacy Podcast.  You can listen to it on any podcast platform, and it’s all about proactive things that you can do to lower your stress, how to respond better, ways that you can support yourself in motherhood and literally just make mom life easier.  It could be practical things or mindset shifts to release some of that stress and let go of things that are weighing you down.

Kristin:  Love it.  Any final tips or thoughts for our listeners?

Elizabeth:  Yes.  Nobody benefits when you’re running on empty and have unmet needs, and nobody suffers when you take care of yourself and prioritize your needs.

Kristin:  Love it.  Thank you so much, Elizabeth!  It was wonderful to chat with you.

Elizabeth:  Thank you for having me!

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