How do I manage this “new normal”?

Anyone who has followed our Body Conceptions events in the last year has gotten to know clinical psychologist, Dr. Rachel Goldman.  “Dr. Rachel” (as she loves to be called) has been a strong force in the wellness scene in NYC, and she has partnered with me several times on panels designed to help postpartum women find balance and feel less stressed.  Her expertise spans a range of topics centered on women’s health and wellness in addition to behavior change and weight management.  She is a true expert on how we can manage our stress in difficult times, and these times definitely count as difficult! 
 
I reached out to Dr. Rachel to ask for her guidance, and I hope her thoughtful and measured answers help you and your family the same way they helped me.  You will find great tips on how to handle new-mom overload and stress-eating, and you will also find some great ideas for how to keep the whole family more balanced and connected right now.  
Please enjoy.  We at Body Conceptions send lots of love!
 
~Mahri
 
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Everything is in a state of flux right now, and lots of mom and families are feeling overwhelmed.  Do you have any tips on how moms can feel more centered?  Maybe a few tips on what they can do for themselves at this time?
 
When we are feeling stressed, or going through a difficult time, the first thing that tends to go out the window is our self-care. My recommendation is to try to maintain some sort of routine, even if it is a new routine for you. Remember to focus on what is IN your control, which includes your health behaviors- specifically including water intake, the food we put in our mouths, movement, sleep, and stress management techniques. 
 
As a relatively new mom yourself, how are you handling working from home and balancing care for your child?
 
This is not easy and it is a daily struggle, but maintaining some sort of routine has been helpful. I also remind myself that I am doing the best that I can, which I am given the current situation. Remembering to use positive self-talk can be very helpful. It is difficult with my husband and I both trying to work from home, and not have childcare, but we make it work (as I often say). We try to take shifts working and spending time with our little guy when we can and we both definitely focus and get work done when he naps.  It’s also important to remind ourselves that many people are experiencing the same (or similar ) thing right now, so people will be understanding. I do virtual sessions and teletherapy from home, and I am honest with my clients that I have a 1 year old and they are all understanding. We need to be more understanding and kind to ourselves as well.  
 
You work with weight management and behavior change, and it can be especially tricky to handle stress eating right now.  Do you have a few tips on how to keep that under control?
 
This is definitely tricky right now and I hear many people struggling with snacking/eating out of boredom or stress during this time.  Something to remember is that when we are at work, we tend to be busy and have distractions, but we also may not have a fully stocked refrigerator or pantry within a few steps of us.  
 
Now, being home and working from home, we have that luxury  – food is always available and accessible to us.  Sticking to a routine definitely helps.  Plan out your meals and snack times just as you would if you were at work.  If you find yourself going to the kitchen at other times, ask yourself what is going on.  Many times we are bored at those times and then we need to come up with an alternative behavior to participate in during those times.  
 
Of course if you are truly hungry and you haven’t eaten in hours, then you need to eat.  But if not, figure out something else to do at that time.  It could be a sign that you need a short break.  Take a walk if you can, do the plank or a short workout, call a friend, etc.
 
And finally, I would love to talk about how the whole family copes with being together and at home right now.  We definitely recommend trying a family workout, which can be a great bonding experience to let off steam and feel better together.  I would love some thoughts from an expert like you on how to help keep families happy and healthy together right now.
 
Doing some sort of fun activity together is definitely a great idea. We have been doing family workouts and family walks together, but I think anything that you do together as a family can be a nice way to bond together.  For many families that perhaps didn’t typically have meals together, this is a great time to start doing that. Everyone is now at home and family mealtimes is a great bonding time, as well as having many other benefits. 
 
I would also suggest that everyone continue to have some sort of “me time.” This is a change- you are not used to all being home together at the same time, and for days at a time. Speak to your family and figure out a schedule that works for everyone. Perhaps take shifts and allow each other the time that they need— even if it is only a few minutes. Additionally, I would ask each other what they need and how they are doing. This daily family check-in could be an activity that you do during a family meal. Ask each other how you are coping and if there is anything the family can do differently to help each other. Communication and support is key right now!  
 
 

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Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS (aka Dr. Rachel) is a clinical psychologist who takes a holistic approach to health. She specializes in the mind-body connection, including stress reduction, the treatment of obesity and weight management, and health behavior change.  She is also Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and has a private practice in NYC where she utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy to assist in behavioral changes, both with individual clients and corporate wellness. She is a sought after expert who has been featured in media, including The New York Times, TIME magazine, CNN, USA Today, Shape, and Women’s Health. She is on the Wellness Board of VeryWell.com and continues to be an expert guest on Sirius XM Doctor Radio. She continues to live an active lifestyle in NYC with her husband and 1 year old, and is passionate about helping others live healthier and happier lives by promoting positive behavioral changes. She believes everyone CAN live happy and healthy lives! 

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