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Aug. 2, 2022

Just Breathe; What Happens When We Are Stressed.

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In this weekś episode, we discuss techniques to reduce stress. We are honored to be joined by Catherine O’Brien, mother, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and the founder of 

She knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed, out of energy, and out of ideas as a new parent. We discuss the feelings of being overwhelmed and how stress affects our bodies physically. Catherine uses practical techniques to help balance our nervous system and keep us grounded, especially in these heightened moments.

Come visit us on our Facebook group, where we continue to support one another and share resources. 

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Welcome to Real Life Momz I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. Today, I invited Catherine O'Brien, a mother, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the founder of

Catherine created Happy With Baby because she knows what it is like to be overwhelmed and out of energy and wanted to help new parents. Today. we are going to discuss stress and how it affects us physically, and just simple techniques that we can be doing to help balance our nervous system and keep us grounded.

Hi, Catherine, welcome to Real Life Momz today our topic is on the feeling of just being overwhelmed and stressed, you know, as parents and as people we do have just constant stress in our lives. And just talking about how this really affects us physically, but also what's happening to us  internally and just any techniques that can help balance overall our nervous system and just keep us grounded, especially during those kind of heightened moments.

So maybe we can start just telling us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here and share with, your audience. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and  I always kinda knew from a young age that I wanted to do this kind of work. I like helping people, and I've been doing this for 20 ish years, which seems really weird to say that it's been that long. That was kinda me before, you know, I got married and had a family and then, met my husband, got married, and we had two kids.

And, after the birth of my first child, everything shifted, what I thought were like priorities and important were totally different. And then it became about lhow do I  balance the things I really love doing, but then also really wanting to be more present and spend more time and not let my, you know, I always like joke, like I'm a recovering type, a personality.

I'm like, how do I not let that piece of me like take over and get the best of me, you know, as I became a mom and, going to different mom groups and listening to other moms and knowing my struggles and listening to their struggles, how could I help? How could I take the knowledge,  I know as a mental health clinician and use that to help other people. And so that's just kind of where, you know, I kinda came into like my passion of working with new and expecting parents. And then now, as you know, my kids have gotten older too.

It's like, it's become, kind of like parents in general moms in general, becaus it's not like after the newborn stage, it gets easier. It´s a different kind of challenge? And so how do I continue to support them? You know, along the way.

Yeah. You wrote a book, right? Yeah. Happy With Baby, essential relationship advice when partners become parents.

So I know you started with that, but then as your own kids kind of grew, you're expanding that to maybe even like tweens, right?

Yeah. I've had people asking me that, my oldest just turned 13 a few months back. And so I'm like, oh my gosh, like this is a whole new era. Right. Um, and, and so that's kind of like the book, you know, it's divided up into three sections and when, you know, one section is like, that taking care of ourselves, I always ask my parents like three questions, like what are you doing to make sure you're taking care of yourself? What are you doing to make sure that you're connecting and taking care of your relationship with your partner? And then the third one is what are you doing to make sure that you're connecting and bonding with your child? You know, and these are questions from the beginning till the end, from now until forever, right?

Like we want to have good relationships with our children, even as they get older and have their own lives that they are leading, which is where, what I'm finding.

And that is where I am. Cause I have teens. Both of them are teens. So yes. Which brings me to my overwhelmed, which I'm excited that we're talking about today because like, even right before, literally right before coming on this phone call, I had to run out because my daughter who now can drive, okay, that's a whole nother podcast. Who can drive, but does not have a car. So she took my car, goes to dance and she can't see because she wears contacts and something happened to her contact.

And I'm like, okay, well now she's like panicking because not only does she have to do this dance class, but that's not really a big issue. Right. I mean dance or don't dance that's okay. But you have to drive home. Right. So I'm like, okay, so this was not in my schedule, like running out to deliver glasses then running back.

So my system, you know, when I just like to kind of say, okay, I'm getting ready to have this nice conversation with you, but of course we're talking about being overwhelmed and stressed now I'm stressing over this.  And I feel like these little things occur all the time in parenting. It's like, you know, schedules change, um, you know, someone gets sick and you're rushing out to go get them. It's like these constant,  little stresses in your day. Right. 

So that's what you know, I'm dealing with and I'm breathing, um, which brings to you had done such an amazing thing. I know you posted on your Instagram and you did this whole challenge called to drop everything and breathe. And I just was like, yes, we need to talk about dropping everything, breathing, dealing with our stresses and just creating this calm environment in our lives. So I'm excited for us to do that today. No, pressure.

Yeah. Well, you know, it's one of those things, like I, I did it right. Cause like, as a busy mom and you have things pop up all the time, like the best laid plans do not go as planned. Like I'm all about like, let's have a plan and expect that it will be like, not go exactly the way I want, but at least I want to have like what was like plan a so that I can like accommodate and make up for other, things that don't go right. At least I had a little bit of a plan.

Yeah. And a lot of us are planners, you know, because that's how we can get by. Right. I agree. Like have a little plan and then I guess you just have to stay flexible. And then there's sometimes I feel like there's not enough room to be flexible cause you're at work. Right. And then something major happens and you're getting this call and your kid's crying on the phone, which is what happens to me sometimes. And it's like, there's nothing I can do, but I'm stressed out too. You know? It just keeps coming.

Right. Right. Yeah. And so that was my thing is like, I mean, self-care is like an overused term. You know, people are like, oh, you need to get self care. And I'm like a big proponent. I'll be wanting to tell you that too. But then my thing becomes like, you know, people, I don't have time for that. Like I have all these other things to do. And I guess, you know, the whole purpose of me doing like stop everything and breathe. And like, you know, like I do class on like finding your calm as a mom and you know, this, a combine design workshop and stuff like that, you know, it's like, how do you find those little moments?

Right. And my thought is, if we can then like start building on the little moments, like, oftentimes we're so burnt out, you know, those aren't enough.

But my thing is like, how do we start shifting to where we can like seize and find those little moments that then we can start building them up to start filling in our empty cups that we're pouring from or whatever it is. Like, how do we start making like small little changes? Like, cause if I said like, oh, you need to like,  fit your self-care every day for, you know, 30 minutes, you need to do something. You would probably say like, I don't have 30 minutes a day, but if we could like start adding in like small little things, making sure you're filling your water bottle the beginning of the day and drinking water, I pick up my son from soccer practice and you know, just waiting in the car, but I know I need to stretch and move my body.

So now I've decided like I don't have to sit in the car and wait for him. Like, I'm going to get out, walk around a little bit. Like I can do that, or you know, they're on grass and there's nothing more grounding than taking your shoes off and putting your feet in the grass and just kind of like feeling that as you like take deep breaths, like how can you find those little moments? And then that starts to feel good. And then I'm calmer. We're, you know, it's easier to have a conversation. Like I'm like such a better mom when I'm taking care of myself. It's like truly, I mean a miracle, um, you know, but like start making, you know, small, smaller.

Yeah. And it's so funny you're saying this, cause I just keep picturing this, conversation I had with my son. So one time, not one time, this happens all the time, but one time I picked him up. But what happens sometimes is I have to pick them up from school, then go get my daughter from school. But we have a good 15, 20 minutes. So it's not a long time. Right. He's always like, why do we have to wait? Why are we sitting in the car waiting when we could be like going to get a snack or running to go do this or that. And I turned to him.

I said, well, because my day looks like this. I dropped you and my daughter off at school. I raced to work. I see clients. I race back just getting there at the hair when you walk out the door to pick you up and then go get your sister. And so these 20 minutes of doing nothing is kind of my time to just read, have lunch, do something. And he's like, wow, I didn't know that. And I'm like, yeah. So the last thing I want to do is run and go get a snack just to barely make it back for her, you know? And so it was kind of very eye-opening for him. Like just because they don't know, they have no idea.


So it's funny how you said, like just taking a walk. Yeah. Those little moments actually are amazing, like listening to meditation while I, you know, if I make it there early, you know, or doing something like that is really, really cup filling for me. So I know you talked a little bit about this, in this stop and breathe series, but can you discuss a little bit about like what really is happening when we are stressed in our bodies?

Yeah. So the fact is like, stress is intertwined in so many areas of our well-being and we feel it in our body, like something happens, right? Like your daughter calls and she forgot her glasses and you'll start to feel in our bodies. And oftentimes, we don't even realize it. Right. Cause it's like, it's physical. It can be biochemical. We could have like hormonally experiences. And when we're stressed, our body kind of shifts into a different gear, and our, you know, our blood flows differently. Our, our heart rates can go up our respiration, our digestion.

Um, and you know, even I know like our eyesight can change for some people, right? Like I'll even like tell couples like if you're having a discussion and you're starting to have it escalate, I always say like, you know, take a time out because what happens is when we start to have that shift, right, our body kind of goes into this like fight flight or freeze.

And so oftentimes then we're not thinking with the front part, the frontal cortex part of our brain. And we're not able to like process and hear and like respond appropriately oftentimes to our partners. So I always say like, take a moment. It can be like 15, 20, 30 minutes, let yourself reregulate and then be able to come back to it. And like noticing like different things when you're stressed happen in your body. Right. And you can crave different things, your mentality and can shift your energy levels, just what you're able to handle mentally and emotionally.

How are you noticing it in your body?

It's almost like getting those little signs first, you know, like maybe grabbing that cookie that I grabbed is a time to say I was stressed. Right. Because I was grabbingit for comfort. Right. And then cause like, honestly in that moment where I felt like I was just kind of racing around, like I think of my son were to ask me something, I may have even snapped. Right. I mean the Limbic system is kind of that emotional area right. 

Absolutely. Yes. That emotional piece. Yeah. I'm a total snapper. And then I'm like all of a sudden I'm like, I hear myself and I'm like, okay, then I take a deep breath and then I'm like, okay, I'm sorry. I did not respond in the way I wish I would have. Right.

Yeah. And nothing. I feel like nothing that comes out in those states when, you're in that Limbic state, nothing that comes out of my mouth is ever good. Like there's nothing good. I'm not saying anything worthwhile. It's not really even practical. And it's usually stuff that I wish I could take back. Like almost harmful. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and they even say like our bodies will start to react differently. Right. When we get off balance and we're experiencing stress and that oftentimes like if we're in tune to our bodies, if we're not so busy, we're not paying attention to ourselves. Right. We can like hear those warning signs and that we need to slow down. Like how often has this ever happened to you where you're like going, going, going, and then all of a sudden you end up really sick and you can't get out of bed. It's like, you know, those things happen. Like, I mean, that was so common for me.

Like in college, I always got sick during finals week or something like that, where finally I got to sit and then it was like, oh my gosh, I'm so sick. You know? Um, or like before my wedding, before I graduated with my masters or, you know, like all these different things, like, oh, I get really sick. And it's like, oh, if I just listen and notice like our stress in your body, you know, is it tight muscles you feel in your neck, do you have pressure in your chest? Or maybe you grind your teeth or cut your jaw or something like that. Really being able to like start to pay attention to what is happening in our bodies to help us,.

You know? And I think about it. So as like someone who does a lot with the nervous system as I'm a craniosacral therapist, um, you know, I always explain it to some of my clients, like the thing about stress, right? We're built to have stress. Right. It's okay for us to do that. But what happens is we never come down from our stress. So we always having more and more and more added on. I think of it as like, almost like an animal, like running away from another animal, ready to eat it. Right. So that's what that fight or flight is really for. Right? Like you're racing out of there so you can live.

Right and there's a lot of physiological changes. Like your digestion will slow down and you're just different things so that the blood can actually pump to the areas that need to like flee the area.

Right? Yes. Leaving other things, not working well. But then what happens with the animal? Right. They are safe. Right. Maybe they don't die, which is great. Um, and then they do something where they shake it off, they get it out of their whole, shake it off. Right. And then they move on, but they're not running again away in like two minutes. But for us, what happens to us? I think we get into that fight or flight state where our actual physiological stuff is changing, but you don't come down to shake it off.

Instead, we've moved on to the next flight and the next flight. And then  we have these nervous systems that are high and our body has literally shut down, like maybe our GI shut down because it's trying to feed the other areas. Right. And so we never really get to come down, and that toll on our bodies is not good.

No, no. I've been watching our dog recently, and we've just got it, we've only had him for like a year and a half. And I haven't had a dog in, like, since I was a kid, I'm like, he is the best for taking care of himself when he stands up and gets up in the morning. The first thing he does is stretches. And I'm like, why do I not do that? I need to do that. You know? And so like, I'm like, if I, if I could just be like my dog and if, when he gets stressed out, he shakes it out and all, even like, you know, talk to my clients about that. It's like, sometimes it is a matter of just like shaking out like that extra, like energy in our body.

And you know, like that can be helpful.

Like everything, like you said, there was like, we do, we keep it in. Like we have this stressful thing. We don't realize we're not being our brain doesn't know we're not being chased by a bear that we just don't have like an extra errand to run today, it feels like the same thing in our brain. Right. It doesn't realize it really in danger. And then we just keep piling it up with all these different things. And it's like, no, do I need to get that release? Like give myself a moment. It doesn't oftentimes those little moments don't take long, but it's like, if I acknowledge and pay attention to like, yeah, look at all the little things in my day that have come up and like, I just need to take these moments and like either stretch my body or, you know, shake it out or, you know, take those deep breaths and let myself like my mind come back down.

And then before I go to the next thing, like these little, little moments,.

Do you have specific breath work or anything that you recommend that do relieve stress in those moments.

Like meditation, you know, can be like super helpful. And I seem to attract the people that find meditation being difficult. Like, unless it's like a specific guided one is like too much time. I don't have time for that. So my big thing is like finding like different, like breathing techniques that don't take a lot of time that I don't have to stop and like get out my phone and listen to it, but can help me stay focused. So four square breathing is a really good one. It's called four square breathing or box breathing. Um, and it's basically, you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, hold your breath, breathe out for four counts and then hold for four counts.

And then you just keep doing that and just, you know, it definitely can help impact just our mind for like calm and clarity and, you know, start small, right. Like three times, five times, 10 times. And maybe you'll find yourself like doing it more and more. And like the more you practice it, the easier it is to just to go into that faster,.

Just to clarify for someone who wants to try it. So you basically, you bring, so I, I think of a box, so it's almost like you're going up the side of the box for four and then you go across right beside the box and you hold for four. Is that right? And then you come down the side of the box for four and then you're holding for four and another one I think is eight. Oh, what's the 4, 7, 8. Yeah. Okay. Tell us that one.

Yeah. So it's like, it's very, you know, similar it's um, so you breathe in for four counts through your nose and then you hold again for seven counts as time, and then eight counts. You'll breathe out through your nose or your mouth and that, um, and this one has also been, they've done research, you know, studies and it has been shown to help, like if you have difficulty falling asleep, so getting breathing in for four counts and then hold for seven and then breathe out for eight. Now this is now I'm going to give you my thing.

Cause people are like, I can't hold my breath for seven counts or breathe out for eight. And so I always tell people, it's like, it's kinda like exercise, right? Like I'm just not going to go out and run a mile, but I can work up to it.

So even like, sometimes it doesn't even take that many times of trying it, but I'll just say like, you know, breathe in for four and then hold as long as you can and then breathe out as long as you can. And then just keep doing that and practicing it. And then the longer you can do it, the better, because we know that when your exhale is just even just a few counts longer than your inhale, the Vagas nerve, that part, you know, that's that nerve from the neck down through the diaphragm signals to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system that controls your rest.

You're relaxed, your digest response. So when we get triggered, you know, when we have that, where we get chased by the bear and so we'll help, you know, it turns out parasympathetic nervous system on, and then it will help turn down our sympathetic nervous system, which is that command to fight flight freeze response.

Right. Right. So parasympathetic is that rest digest where we all want to be. Um, yeah. And I've heard that as well, is that I've heard that if you breathe, if you exhale twice, as long as that you've inhaled, then that will bring up in that parasympathetic system. So that's a good, good note. So.


Exhaling twice as long as.

Yeah. Yeah. Even if you can't do it right away, like you can build up to it. It doesn't take long to practice doing that. If you practice it before you'd get out of bed in the morning, like your alarm goes off or you just wake up, it's like take a few breaths to like practice it. Then even when you're not necessarily stressed or like you practice it, maybe you practice it before you eat your lunch or B when you have your cup of coffee or, or whatever, or again, when you lay down at night to go to sleep, because then it'll make it easier. And you'll find it easier to remember to do it in those like stress state when we get stressed.

And I do have to share this because I'm, so my blood pressure was high, go figure and, um, I did do some meditation just FYI on a daily basis and that brought it down, but I would take my blood pressure at home and I would do breath work just like that. Just like we're saying, going from sympathetic to parasympathetic and my blood pressure always went down. So I would take a few deep breaths and having it, you know, inhaling and exhaling twice as long as I've inhaled and you can see it, that it actually decreased my blood pressure, which is part of the parasympathetic right.

To decrease heart rate. Um, so that was really cool to actually visually see that. So it does work.

Yeah. Yeah. And I think sometimes we made those, like, we need to see it like this sometimes like on your watch, like I know my heart, like, um, sometimes I'll just check it my heart rate or whatever, and I will do it and just like practice it, the breathing too. And notice like my heart rate will slow down a little bit as well.

Yeah. So it is, it is really effective. And I think using it in situations that we are feeling maybe stressed out just, and maybe even before answering a child's requests after being really stressed and bringing us back down to that more balanced place and then being able to parent, even if it's just that five deep breaths, right. Like.

Right when our cortisol is elevated for too long and just as serves, like all the systems, you know, in our body. And, and we, and let's be honest, like life in the last few years have been super stressful. And I know we're all operating at like higher levels of cortisol in our body.

The other thing, like, I'm just thinking that I do split some of my clients is that I don't know if you've heard of the reticular activating system. Yeah. I like to call it the RAS cause it's a tongue twister and that is, you know, that's a part of our brain that is really our alarm system. It's a response to that fight or flight and how we perceive the world. And, you know, sometimes when I feel like really stressed out or my patients are feeling really, really stressed out, I kind of have them visualize a thermometer almost.

And like, if you would give it a zero being that you're kind of really at that base of rest and digest parasympathetic system on 10 being that you're really at that fight or flight place, I tell the person to kind of think like, okay, how are they feeling from zero to 10 and saying they're at a 10, like I am all I'm, I'm going through the roof here. I feel really revved up, you know? Um, and so I'm 10 on that thermometer. And then I say, okay, picture where you would feel good.

And like, where's the best place for you to function now with the reticulating activating system, you don't want to be at a zero because we need to respond. If there is a bear following us, I don't want to be jello. Right. I want to be around a four or five. Right. You don't want to be in that balanced midway point. So then I say, okay, well what feels good? And some people like, can't get to that midway point. So they'll say an 8 some people can, they say five. And I said, okay, great. Let's take some deep breaths, but visualize that thermometer going down, down, down to that four, five, as you breathe to get that actual Raz, you know, down and get you more balanced from not being in sympathetic or parasympathetic.

And just another little fun tool. It's not necessarily a meditation, but you know, you can do it in a place that you're just in your car.

Yeah. Just to have that, like the visual cue of like, almost  like can see it going down.

Now. Are there any other techniques that you would recommend for any parents or anyone for reducing stress?

Like the five senses, like grounding. Like sometimes I feel like we need that. Like just to kind of bring us into the moment or like, you know, I will tell my clients, like, you know, you don't have time to take a bath, but you get in the shower and you can use the five senses, you know, you can become aware of just the sensations, like on your skin, like yeah. And notice where it's being stored. Like sometimes then we noticed like, where is the attention being sorted? Do I feel like tension in my neck? Yeah.

So I love that you said where's the tension being stored because here's my therapist hat right now is like a lot of times people are like, oh, I have neck pain. Or, but it's not even that they have like a muscle pull or that it's actually this, uh, tension even just emotional tension stuck in the stress itself. Like the tissues themselves have absorbed that. So even though they're like, I don't know, I've gotten the sergeants and therapy, but I'm not getting rid of it. Well, it's on a different whole level because we have all this stress in there too, that also needs to be released in a different way.

Now you do have a program that you kind of mentioned called calm by design. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Yeah. Um, so it's basically, I, you know, teach like a lot of different techniques, you know, to help. I  tell people, like, it's really hard to turn stress off. Like, it's not like, like, you know how annoying it is when people are like, oh, just calm down. Like that. That's something that like annoys me and it makes me, you know, but like turning off. So it's like turning that stress off is really hard to do, but like, like the program is like helping find more efficient ways to work on like how to turn on calm response.

Right. And, you know, and I mean, basically, it's essentially the same thing. Right. They'll just diminish stress and everything like that, but it's, it's a lot more effective, easier to turn it on.

I love that concept of turning on almost like the parasympathetic system instead of turning like, you know, just stop being stressed because that seems so negative. Just stop being stressed. Right. But, or you could say, Hey, you can turn on your relaxation. Right. That sounds so much nicer. Yeah.

You know, like our skin is our largest nervous system, so that's how they, you know, they find that like, massages can be helpful, but I don't have time to go get a massage every day that I have, you know, a stressful thing. So, you know, so I'll teach different things like, you know, like even taking like a warm washcloth and like rubbing down your, your body, like your arms and your legs, like, you know, in the middle of the day, you're like stressed out. And like I found like those can be helpful, like with my kids too, especially when they were little and you know, it's harder to help regulate them.

And just like, you know, just even giving them like, like a self massage slowly, like, you know, wiping your face down your body down and, you know, a warm cloth or even a cool cloth, like if it's too hot, right.

Cause that can help take your nervous system, but just like different techniques that can be used in helpful, like in everyday life like that, you can find a few minutes to do, but like how to, um, like, and how to start implementing them and figure out what works for you then at different times all need different things as well. So it's just like basically just a program like that is stacked with like ideas like that. Like, like our breath is helpful. Nature's helpful, you know, getting out in nature. That's why it's like grounding yourselves, like in the grass or whatever, when we, if we take our shoes off.

Right. Um, being able to, um, like find connection. And I know that's, you know, been really hard for a lot of people is feeling like connection with other, you know, people were feeling isolated and stuff. And now it's like trying to build like connections and, and everything and becoming a new parent. That's what I've found with some of my clients is like, that's a hard time to have that.

Is this an online program? Is it in person if people do? Where is it?

Yeah, it's, it's online. It's on my website. Um, and it's called calm by design.

So what would you like moms to know about just being overwhelmed in the stress state?

Um, I guess I want them to know that they don't have to stay in that stress state and that there are, that you can start making shifts. Now it might seem like there's no way out or like there's no end in sight, but it's like, there are things, you know, you can start making, you know, small shifts, small changes, you know, to kind of start turning on the calm, like get out of the car and put your feet on the ground or, you know, take those deep breaths, you know?

And before you go in the house after work, like take a few minutes and give yourself that, like that is okay and, and needed, you know, so that you, you know, be more present, you're a better mom and a better partner when we have to prioritize and spent time caring for.

Definitely working from more of that balance system where we're not all the way in fight or flight or rest and digest that we're in a balanced system where we can think about what we're doing and saying, and just really be present in that time. Yeah. It's hard to focus in that heightened state. So yeah, taking those rights thing and then I've been asking it all my moms, this, um, what has been your favorite parenting resource?

Like the best parenting resources is finding ways to connect with other parents. And  so I guess I would just say like meet up for meeting new parents. Like I, you know, I host a parents support group. Um, you know, it was always, you know, in-person, and then when the pandemic happened, like, you know, I changed it to online, then it opened it up to the world. And so I got to meet moms from like all over the world, um, all very much the same similar challenges and struggles and stuff like that.

And so I guess it is just like, I just, I love finding ways that we can connect with other people. So we don't feel alone because, you know, the challenge that you're having, there's been another parent that's had the same challenge. Right. And so, um, and it feels so much better to be like, oh, I've been there too, and it gets better.

Or I did this and this was helpful, you know, just to get feedback and suggestions and support from other people I think is so important. Yeah. Like meetup, I mean, and I've had, you know, other people, you know, find other groups and different things is like, put it in what you like to do. Like if there's an activity outside of being a parent, like put it in there and see if you can connect and, you know, meet other people in your area. Or if you can't, there isn't one it's like create your own because I, there will be people that show up that will be looking for what you have to offer, if there's nothing in your area.

 I forget about meetup, honestly, there's so many like Facebook groups, things like that, but yeah. Meetup is a great way to do it. I just, yeah, I haven't done that much, but, um, but yeah, and that connection is, is so important. And so it's awesome that you were to do it online too during that time period where people weren't able to get together because that's really all, we're starting to feel isolated and needing each other. Well, thank you for coming on the show today and just helping me talk about being overwhelmed, actually feel calmer.

Honestly, I do. I mean, honestly, just talking through things and you listening was really helpful too. Um, but also the techniques of breathing are also really helpful too, so, so.

Good. I'm so glad. I hope, I hope that it was. And I really enjoyed my time speaking with you as well.

Thank you for listening to today's episode. Stress is something we deal with on a daily basis, but as Catherine reminded us that finding those small moments where we can take a breath or go for a walk or just grounding our feet in the grass while watching our child's soccer game can make such a difference in rebounding our nervous system. Come share your favorite stress reduction techniques with us on our Facebook group. And let's make sure that we fill our own cups so that we can be parenting from a calm, grounded place.

Catherine O'BrienProfile Photo

Catherine O'Brien

Catherine O’Brien is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder of She knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed, out of energy, and out of ideas as a new parent. She created Happy With Baby in order for new and expecting parents to discover the advice she wishes she could have had when managing expectations of parenthood
and relationships. After giving birth to her first child, Catherine realized that adding a baby into a relationship dynamic changes everything. She discovered her passion for helping new parents to communicate and thrive through this transition, equipping them to be effective caregivers and
with a happy marriage. Catherine acts as a California state co-coordinator for Postpartum Support International and also helped to establish A Mother’s Heart in Sacramento, where mothers with perinatal and anxiety disorders go to receive support. Additionally, she participates in the Sacramento Maternal Mental Health Collaborative.
Catherine is married to her husband, Rick, who shares his advice on parenting and creating healthy relationships in Happy With Baby. Together, they have a son and a daughter who both play soccer, where Catherine gets to assume the role of coach. Apart from working as a family
therapist, speaker, and educator, Catherine enjoys paddle boarding and rowing. She and her family live in Sacramento, California. Follow her on Facebook at Happy With Baby, on Instagram @happywithbaby, and on her website,