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Lisa Abramson is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and author who became an icon among mothers suffering from postpartum depression after telling her story of postpartum psychosis on the national stage. Her TEDx talk about her transition into motherhood has been viewed over 65,000 times. Her programs teach high-potential women leaders how to create sustainable success, and have been taught at Google, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, LinkedIn, YouTube, Microsoft, and many other companies. Abramson has been featured in numerous articles and podcasts, and is an in-demand speaker who also offers popular guided meditations that have been streamed over a million times.
Shortly after the birth of her first child, Abramson began suffering from a rare variant of postpartum depression called postpartum psychosis. In addition to experiencing crippling depression, she also lost touch with reality and began hearing things and hallucinating. Terrified and confused about what was happening, she became suicidal and spent ten days locked in a psychiatric ward. “ I hit rock bottom, both as a mother and as a mindfulness teacher who had lost her mind,” Abramson says . “And let me tell you, it took a lot of courageous steps to recover over the following months. Thankfully, I ended up not only getting better but also a heck of lot stronger along the way.”
About two years after this incident, Abramson was asked to give a TEDx talk about what had happened. She decided to share her deeply personal story in order to help other moms who might be suffering so that they might feel less alone. Once she did that, she never looked back. She has since taken on an active role as a maternal mental health advocate, and even written a book to help new moms called The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave.
Here, Abramson shares 5 ways new working moms can better take care of themselves:
- Give yourself a break. Better yet, be on your own side.
Quiet your inner critic and learn to be your own biggest supporter. If someone around us talked to us the way we talk to ourselves, we would probably exile that person from our lives! Yet we tolerate a lot of harsh words from our inner critic that leave us feeling deflated and burned out. We have to learn tools to become more self-compassionate. It can feel awkward at first to build up this self-compassion muscle, but over time it becomes more natural.
- Let go of the “shoulds” and get clear on what you need.
It can be helpful to say, “I’m choosing to do this,” as opposed to saying, “I have to do this.” Saying “I choose to” reminds you that you’re in control and you can make different choices. It can also be helpful to work with a coach to gain clarity on what you’re trying to create in your life. The more clarity you have, the easier it is to let go of the “shoulds” that are holding you back and taking up your precious time.
- Let go of the myth that productivity and worthiness are intertwined.
This is an unwinnable battle and leads to the “never enough” hamster wheel. Avoid the temptation to overschedule your life. Make time to unplug. We all need and deserve downtime and rest. Ban saying, “I’m so busy” and do the hard work of saying “no” more often.
- Set boundaries and keep them to avoid burnout.
One helpful tactic I’ve implemented is to start with a “no” and then convince myself to move to a “yes,” instead of the opposite. That way, you are only saying yes to requests that really align with your values and your priorities. Overextending ourselves with friends and family can lead to burnout. Back-to-back kids’ birthday parties to attend on a Saturday? It’s up to you to say no if you feel like it’s too much.
- Flex your “asking for help” muscle.
It’s often uncomfortable to ask for help, but it does get easier over time. We were taught at a young age to value self-reliance over everything. This gets in our way. We need others, especially as moms. The more we reach out for help, the stronger we all are . And what a gift it is to model this to our children.
Abramson believes that we uncover our life purpose by knowing ourselves deeply and then taking courageous action. She got to know herself better over the years through reading self-help books, meditating, working with a coach and therapist, challenging herself physically, going on retreats and enrolling in online courses. Eventually, she realized that her purpose is to inspire others to be present in their lives and experience love and joy on a daily basis. But it still took years for her to figure out how to share her gifts with the world and turn this dream into reality.
Over time, Abramson grew brave enough to take action and to put herself out there. The keys, she says, were believing in herself and being willing to make mistakes. Now, her life purpose and her work are very much intertwined. “I love making a difference in people’s lives. I have more energy and zest for life. I love showing up for work each day. Lastly, living authentically is way less exhausting than putting on a show for yourself or others!” she says.
To others looking to align their career with their life purpose, Abramson says, “Just because you fail at something does not mean you’re a failure. If your inner critic is saying you’re a failure or you’re not good enough, that is shame talking. Stage an intervention to quiet your inner critic! In these moments, I love taking a self-compassion break. Guided meditation can help.”
April 29, 2019 at 09:06AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs