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115: The Highly Sensitive Mother

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We all know that the challenges of new motherhood can be many--and overwhelming. If you are an HSP (highly sensitive person), then those challenges may be magnified---and you probably aren’t focusing on any self-care. This topic resonates deeply with me and intrigues me in the way the trait interacts with motherhood and its challenges.   Julie Bjelland is an LMFT, an HSP psychotherapist, and the author of Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person: Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions. Julie’s mission is to help sensitive people reduce the challenges and increase the positives.Through her website specializing in highly sensitive people (the trait also known as Sensory Processing Sensitivity), she offers many valuable resources for both HSP’s and parents of sensitive children. Julie has a mission to spread awareness and education about the trait of high sensitivity and believes the world needs the gifts of sensitive people.   Show Highlights:   High sensitivity is a trait and not a disorder--and it’s NOT the same as introversion (30% of HSP’s are extroverts and 20% are introverts) From Elaine Aron’s work on HSP’s: Depth of Processing, Overstimulation, Emotionally responsive, and Sensitivity to subtle stimuli (DOES) The judgment around being sensitive and its connection to weakness How scientific research shows real brain differences in HSP’s On the positive side, HSP’s are more empathetic, more aware, and more compassionate Common for the HSP mother is to put themselves at the bottom of the priority list and take care of others first Trained HSP vs. untrained HSP Self-care---a conscious action you take to lower your stress and bring you to a balanced state A key for HSP’s is getting enough sleep in order to understand and meet specific needs An HSP mom’s default setting is to be hard on themselves and focus on everyone else’s needs Certain parts of the brain in HSP moms will be overactive, like merging into everyone else’s moods and experiences Many people who seek treatment for anxiety will also have the HSP trait How HSP contributes to overall perinatal depression and anxiety, since everything changes in mind, body, and spirit Why HSP’s need creative ways to get two hours of alone time each day The tendency to measure everything in ourselves and others against the standard of perfection Self-talk, with low levels of self-compassion and criticism of themselves Common characteristics of HSP’s: perfectionism, sleep-deprived, overstimulated, and misunderstood Steps to help HSP’s: Develop self-compassion  (Kristin Neff outlines 3 steps) Take breaks when needed Practice mindfulness 50% of clients in therapy are HSP’s Supporting moms and dads better in pregnancy and the postpartum period could impact parenting differently and offer more support Using the right tools for support in children can prevent many problems and help them gain confidence and have an easier time accepting who they are   Resources:  Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person: Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Julie Bjelland   The Highly Sensitive Child by Dr. Elaine Aron    Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff Find Julie on Facebook: The Highly Sensitive Person Instagram: hsp psychotherapist Twitter: @juliebjelland LinkedIn: highly-sensitive-juliebjelland