I know what it’s like to have a new baby around the house. The dirty dishes piled high, the never-ending laundry, did you eat today? Just forget about exercise, you don’t even have time for a shower, right? You’re wondering if and when life will ever resemble those incredible Instagram photos you posted from your babymoon.
This is a typical scenario for a family going through the transition to parenthood, yes? Of course there are precious moments, but it’s intense. That first year of life is nothing short of a hurricane sweeping through your world. When you factor in the inevitable additional emotional stress parenthood brings, life is more challenging. You may know you want professional help in the form of counseling, but you just can’t figure out how to fit it all in.
ENTER WALK AND TALK THERAPY
A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that although I offer Walk and Talk Therapy sessions in my San Diego-based private practice, where I specialize in maternal mental health, many people are unaware of it’s existence.
In my work as a licensed psychotherapist, over the past 15 years I’ve found that Walk and Talk Therapy is helpful for clients who are going through life transitions, have anxiety, are experiencing some kind of loss or grief among other challenges. Mothers of young children in particular, seem to really gravitate towards this modality; it’s so easy to bring your baby and stroller and go. Walk and Talk Therapy combines traditional talk therapy with physical exercise. Want to know more?
So here's the skinny on what Walk + Talk is and what it isn't
Walk and Talk Therapy is:
- a great option If you don't enjoy all the eye contact inherent in traditional office-based psychotherapy sessions.
- helpful if you're suffering from phobias, excessive anxiety, or are newly postpartum and not sure how to fit exercise of any kind back in your life.
- an opportunity to breathe fresh air and connect with nature (and another adult who happens to be trained to support your mental health)
Walk and talk is not:
- a cardio workout.
- the same thing as chatting with a friend while walking.
Sounds pretty good so far, yes? Walking side by side with a trained psychotherapist feels collaborative and encourages conversations. Clients often feel more at ease sharing personal information in this informal, outdoor environment than traditional office-based therapy. Some clients also find it less intimidating to talk to a therapist when you’re both doing something else. And be assured, your confidentiality will be maintained, just as if you were in an office.
Here’s how Walk + Talk therapy will change your life, mama
1. You will feel better
Participating in regular Walk and Talk Therapy sessions with a trained therapist has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension, improve mood and increase energy. Physical exercise releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), which naturally trigger positive feelings helping to reduce levels of depression and anxiety, and can actually help prevent depressive symptoms. Many people report improved self-esteem and feelings of well-being, improved sleep (clearly that research wasn’t conducted on parents of young children), and an enhanced mind-body connection
2. You get to move your meat (aka exercise) AND take care of your mental health
It’s hard to fit in exercise as a new mom, or even an experienced one. Sure you could get a fancy jogging stroller but just the logistics of it all seem overwhelming. So here’s an opportunity to start small while also improving your mental health. Although Walk and Talk Therapy isn’t a workout, it is exercise and it can help you start to carve out time for what’s important.
3. You don’t need childcare
4. You will feel better
I already said this one but it’s worth repeating. As a new mother, it’s not uncommon to put everyone else first. After all, you have a new being that’s relying on you. But like they say on an airplane- you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Self-care is important. If you don’t take care of you, not only will you suffer, but those you love will too.
If you’re struggling with your adjustment to motherhood, please reach out for support. Contact your doctor, Postpartum Support International, or a mental health professional. If you have more questions about Walk + Talk Therapy, or think it may be a good fit for you, check out these Frequently Asked Questions. And if you're in San Diego, give me a call!