Home Health 682: The Unflustered Mom: Understanding Anxiety Styles and Beating Overwhelm With Amber...

682: The Unflustered Mom: Understanding Anxiety Styles and Beating Overwhelm With Amber Trueblood

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Katie: Hello and welcome to The Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And this episode is all about the unflustered mom and understanding our anxiety styles, beating overwhelm and fostering creativity. And I’m here with Amber Trueblood, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as an author and a speaker and a mom of four sons. She has over 25 years of experience in mental health, and she co-founded the M.E.C.A. Project, which helps teens and young adults thrive mentally and emotionally. She’s been featured all over the internet and the media for her work.

And we talked specifically today about her new book called The Unflustered Mom, but specifically the different styles we each have, both in our anxiety and our superpowers. We start off talking about how she dances to old school hip hop and how she got into this. We talk about the five anxiety styles and why they’re important, discovering our own drivers and superpowers. Discovering where our styles are not serving us, but finding the flip sides, which are our superpowers. The five styles are lover, fighter, executive, visionary, and dynamo.

We talk about how she defines overwhelm and how it differs from how it’s often defined. We talk about the amount of time that your actions are aligned with your values and how this determines if you’re overwhelmed or not. Disconnecting from the idea that busy equals overwhelmed, how to know which style you are, self-care suggestions for each style, and so much more. It’s a fun conversation, and let’s join Amber Trueblood. Amber, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Amber: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to chat today.

Katie: I think we’re going to go in a lot of directions that are going to be really helpful for moms, and I think it’s going to be a really fun conversation. Before we jump into the motherhood side and the mindset side and everything we’re going to touch on, though, I have a note that you have a hobby of dancing to old school hip hop, and I would love to hear about that because I am trying to learn how to dance, and I will admit that I’m very poor at it right now. So I would love to hear how you got into that and how you make that a hobby.

Amber: But are you trying because you think you’ll like it or you know you’ll like it and you just want to get better?

Katie: I am trying because it’s out of my comfort zone, which makes it really fun, and I’m trying to get more in touch with getting back in my body. After years of doing trauma therapy, I feel like it’s a great way to reconnect with my body.

Amber: That’s beautiful. Okay, now I forgot the question because I was so focused on you for a moment.

Katie: Well, how did you get into it that’s so fun? And is it a hobby or pursuit or how do you dance to hip hop?

Amber: I would say it’s a hobby. It’s definitely something that I grew up doing and wanting to do more. And then probably early teens, I stopped and have regretted it ever since. And about almost ten years ago now, when I turned 40, I said, well, actually, there’s a little story that goes with it. So I have four boys, and the two youngest went oh, no, they were the two oldest at the time. The two oldest went to a hip hop dance class, and they were little. They were, like four and five, and they were terrible. They were terrible. But it was so cute. It was so adorable because they were trying their hardest. And I got home from the class, and I showed my husband the video, and in the recording, you could see my reflection in the glass, and on my face was this giant smile, just like the biggest eyes. I mean, it was just this giant, heartfelt, goofy smile.

And it hit me really hard emotionally when I saw that, and I immediately thought, I need to do more things that make my face look like that. I want to do more things that make my face look like that. And I’m pretty sure that this is the beginning and the end of my boys dance career. So if I want that, I’m going to have to be the one that does the dancing. And so I started going to some beginner hip hop dance classes because that’s the music that moves me the most and gets me moving and energized and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, I just fit in a dance class between my morning dropping off at school, this podcast, I went and did a contemporary class and it was amazing. I love that so much.

Katie – And unexpectedly, I feel like dovetails perfectly into our conversation because I had a similar realization years ago when I was I kept hoping my kids would want to take music lessons, and then I paused for a second and went, wait a second, why do I want them to take music lessons? And I was like, oh, it’s because I dropped out of them and always wished I had stuck with it and actually I should be the one taking music lessons. And so I started taking voice lessons, which was terrifying and also super fun and also ended up being physically very helpful because, turns out vibrating your vocal cords is great for your thyroid, which I was struggling with at the time.

And ironically, my kids then got interested in music strictly because I got into it and it made me realize we know the stats of the biggest influencer of children’s fitness level is actually the mom’s fitness level, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect, but that crosses over into so many things. And I think as parents, it’s easy to fall in that trap of wanting to create these experiences for our kids and not realizing often doing that is simply like giving ourselves permission to pursue things that light us up, which gives them permission to pursue whatever it is that lights them up.

Amber: That’s so true, Katie. And I would say for me, the biggest gift was that they weren’t good at it because I don’t know that I would have seen it that soon. And like with you, they weren’t interested at first, like, what a gift that was, because then it caused us to kind of look in within, right, and say, oh, wait, I really want to do this, and give ourselves permission to do it. And what a beautiful gift that was.

Katie: Well, I love that. And like I said, I think this is actually a perfect springboard into a parenting conversation because I’ve read a little bit of your work and just the little bit of familiarity I have. It seems like you do talk about modeling and so much of how we show up in these relationships, and so I love that we got to start there. But for people who aren’t familiar with you, you wrote an awesome book called The Unflustered Mom. And I think this is super relevant to moms today, but I would love if you gave a little background on the book and also explained what you call the five anxiety styles, because I think this is a really important foundational part for this whole conversation.

Amber: Yeah, definitely. So I wrote the book to help serve and support moms who are feeling stressed, who are feeling anxious, who are feeling overwhelmed and give them a way of looking at it from a little bit different direction. Because, in essence, I’d like to say that anxiety is not one size fits all. It doesn’t look the same in everybody, and we all know this, but it’s kind of hard to remember in the midst of when we’re feeling anxious, but our partner is not, right? Or our mother in law super anxious and all overwhelmed, and we’re like, what’s the problem? I don’t understand. This is actually good news, right?

And so we all have different core drivers, we all have different emotional triggers, and we all also have different, what I like to call superpowers or superhero traits that come from our core drivers. And so what I like to call the five anxiety styles and I’d love to dig into them because they’re so fun, is where your style is not serving you, is really your anxiety style, and then there’s areas where it is serving you and it becomes your superpower, and that’s really your flourish type. So they’re kind of two sides to the same coin. Does that make sense?

Katie: Absolutely, yeah.

Amber: So there are five, and kind of like, if you’re familiar with the five love languages, they serve as a way to help understand. Oh, I’ll name the five. First we’ve got Lover, Fighter, Executive, Visionary and Dynamo. Right.

So, Katie, if you’re a lover and I’m a dynamo, then I can read these and understand, oh, this is where you’re coming from. This is what’s going to help serve and support you emotionally, and this is where you might be struggling. And then if I’m a dynamo, this is where I might need some help and where I might be struggling. So for each anxiety style, there are different core contributors, there are different drivers, there are different kind of tendencies. Anxiety is going to show up a little bit differently. And because of all that, the solutions, like the strategies that are going to help you are going to be different from the strategies that help me. And some of them even, like the fighter, what triggers the fighter is going to be what soothes the lover, right? So sometimes it’s even so counterintuitive.

And I wrote this book so that people could more quickly and efficiently find the tools that are going to work for them to ease that overwhelm and anxiety and also to give yourself a little compassion and to elicit a little compassion for the other people in our lives. Because then when we have more compassion for ourselves, we can release some of the guilt, some of the self judgment, right? Some of the kind of mean girl talk that we do with ourselves, and we can release some of our frustration and resentment that we hold towards others. And so a combination of that is what I seek to do in the book.

And then I love, love, love, because I have four small kids. I don’t have a lot of extra time to be spending. Well, they’re not small anymore. They’re big now, actually. They feel very big all of a sudden. But what I love to do is collect and trial practical strategies and figure out what do I like, what’s working, how do I mix it up? And so then I share a lot of practical strategies for reducing stress and overwhelm, both preventatively, like I break it down per anxiety style. Like, what can you do every day? What can you do every week? What can you do once a year? And then in the moment strategies too. Like, hey, you have 1 minute literally before you need to get in that carpool lane for pickup. Or you have 1 minute before you need to get on that work call and you’re just flipping out. What can you do in that 1 minute? What can you do if you have ten minutes? And then what can you do if you have 30 minutes? And then I walk people through creating their own, what I call their emergency emotional support plan based on that. So you create that. So there’s a lot of fun actual tools you can use, like tonight at dinner through the book.

Katie: I love that, and I’m excited for us to go deeper on some of these. I also love that you’re taking the approach of the personalization aspect of this, because I’ve realized this over and over in the last 15 years on the physical health side of this, is that I feel like every approach has so much wisdom and we can absolutely learn something from every expert, everybody’s approach. But at the end of the day, it’s each of us figuring out our own answers and taking responsibility for our own health and personalizing what’s going to work for us. And I’m glad that this is now entering like, the mindset side and the parenting conversation because there isn’t a one size fits all approach and even within our own children. I feel like if you figure out some things that work for one child, you figured out that child, it does not necessarily help you at all with the rest of your children. At least that’s the case for me.

And I also love that you’re tackling the topic of overwhelm because this seems like a big point of contention and a big word for a lot of moms in today’s world. So from a foundational perspective, can you define how you think of overwhelm and then we’ll start talking solutions as well?

Amber: Yeah, definitely. So I might define overwhelm differently from what most of your listeners have heard. I believe that it’s not necessarily the number of items on your to do list, the number of responsibilities you have, how many kids you have, how many jobs you have, what recent trauma you might have gone through. Overwhelm really shows up when how you’re spending your time, your money, your resources and your attention is aligned or not aligned with what’s really important to you.

So if that giant list of stuff that you have to do is super aligned with things that are really important to you, you, you; not your mother-in-law, not your partner, not your kids, not your neighbor, not your boss, but to you, then you might feel busy. You might feel exhausted at the end of the day, but you’re going to feel adrenalized. You’re going to feel energized by that list, right? You’re going to want to smile at the end of the day when you’re exhausted instead of cry, right? And so the amount to which you’re aligned, where your actions are aligned with what’s important to you. So the amount to which your actions are aligned with your values, that’s going to determine whether or not you feel super overwhelmed or great and not overwhelmed at all. So busy doesn’t necessarily mean overwhelmed. Does that make sense? So I’d like to disconnect that, because if you look at what you’re spending your time, energy, money, attention doing, and it’s just full of stuff that you don’t really care about, you’re doing it because you feel like you should. You feel like you have to. You’re taking on somebody else’s wants and needs and what is important to them. That’s when you’re going to breed resentment, frustration, exhaustion, burnout, right?

And it’s not all or nothing, right? You’re not like, I’m throwing out this list. What you can find is that the more you can tweak it, add just one thing once a week that’s important to you, it starts to shift. And I like to do this exercise where I have people kind of walk through what is an average day as far as what types of tasks you’re doing, and then make a list of those. And then next to it, you’re going to rate them between one and ten and how aligned they are with what’s important to you. And a ten is like, oh, my gosh, I love this. I love doing it. It’s important to me. I would do it every single day and be so happy, right? I love it, love it, love it. So for me, one of those things is I love to read out loud to my two younger kids at night. I love it. If somebody took that away from me, I’d be bummed. I’d miss out. A one or two or a zero on the list is like making dinner for me. I could never make dinner again and be a happy flipping camper. Now, some people making dinner from their family for their family, that’s a ten, right? And reading to their kids every night would be a one. And that’s okay, right? Like, it’s okay. There’s no judgment here.

It’s about being honest with yourself, right? And then a five is like neutral. You could give it, you could take it or leave it. It doesn’t drain you, but it doesn’t really fill you up emotionally either, right? So you rate all of those things. And please, please don’t harp on it too long if everything on your list is like a three or lower. There was a period of my time where I felt like that’s what it was. There maybe had a couple fours and fives. But what you do and what I’ve noticed and what I’ve learned and what I work with my clients on is if you add one thing that’s an eight, nine, or ten to your week, not your day, not your morning, like, just to the week. What happens is suddenly the items that were threes and twos often become fives. I’m not saying they’re ever going to become your favorite thing, but for me, cooking dinner, making chicken and rice and broccoli for the 400,000,000th trillionth time was like something that used to cause me a lot of anxiety and frustration and resentment. And as soon as I started adding those dance classes that we talked about, making dinner became a five, maybe six, maybe even. I enjoyed it a little bit.

And all of a sudden, making dinner every day, which wasn’t going to be something that was ever off my list, right? It was always going to be on the list, but suddenly I just neutralized it, and it was far easier than I thought. So if you look at that list and you think, well, okay, great, now I look at this stuff, I’m never going to not be able to do this, so I’m always going to have these twos and threes. No, I would argue adding something to your list will often neutralize those lower numbers and all of a sudden your average, I mean, if you’re a mathy person, all of a sudden that average goes way up and it doesn’t make mathematical sense, right? It’s because all of a sudden it’s weighted differently. Does that make sense?

Katie: It totally does. And as a personal example, I’m thinking through my day today, so an average Monday for me is I’m up usually when the sun gets up and I’m out in the garden, which is a high value activity for me. And then I get to have breakfast with my kids, and then I get to have usually three or four conversations with amazing people like you and a podcast. And then I’m going to go do double workouts with my older kids and their sports teams. And then I’m going to cook dinner, and then we’re going to do the whole bedtime routine. And then I’m going to at night and I have no free time, no downtime the whole day, but I always go to bed super fulfilled because I enjoy all those activities.

And so I think the mindset piece of this is the part that’s not talked about enough. And I love your strategy for this specifically and the fact that I realized for women especially, we’re amazing often at multitasking, and we actually sometimes can thrive on the getting things done and the actual activity. But for me, at least, it was not the getting things done that was the problem. I realized for a while it was the mental loops of having so much I needed to get done and trying to manage all of it in my head rather than actually having a strategy for when everything was going to happen. So when I took the mental stress part out, the same amount of getting things done became no longer stressful because it wasn’t open loops in my head that was taking mental bandwidth all day long. And I think you take it even a step further, like put in activities that actually fill you up. And I think that’s a paradigm shift to think of activities that can actually help balance your stress. Whereas often we think we have to take things away to get rid of our stress. And for women that can feel stressful, when you try to think of like, I’m going to take away this stuff that feels really important to do, but I’m still stressed.

Amber: Well, it’s like when you have a newborn and people are like, get some sleep, and you’re like, I’m trying, but now I feel worse because I feel like I’m supposed to be getting sleep and I can’t sleep. So now I’m frustrated about that on top of already being exhausted..

Katie: Yeah, exactly. So I think this framework is so helpful because it’s so practical and then you take people through actually analyzing all these different activities. Do you find that this is common? Like for most women, actually finding that thing that sparks their creativity or really ignites them or brings back some excitement that actually does balance so many of those other activities?

Amber: Yeah, and unfortunately, I think a lot of us as moms need to give ourselves permission. So that’s the second part, right, is giving yourself permission to add that and then as soon as you see the benefits in your life and that’s what I’ve found, is people very quickly see the benefits in their life and they see how it’s not just benefiting them, of course, right. It’s benefiting their kid, it’s benefiting their relationships. It’s benefiting their sleep, their physical health, their energy level. And for many of us, it very soon becomes a non negotiable, right, in your day, and it doesn’t mean you have to.

And that’s when we get into the anxiety styles. For some people, they like that flexibility of just like, oh, maybe today I’ll do this and maybe today I’ll do that, and other people, that’s very triggering. So like, for an executive, and I feel like we’re getting close to defining each of these, but for an executive, they’re going to want to see that on the schedule. They’re going to want to plan for it. They’re going to want to communicate really effectively and make sure that is a non-negotiable. So depending on what your anxiety style? Is it’s going to look a little bit different.

Katie: Yeah. Well, I think this is the perfect time to springboard into that. Can you walk us through some examples related to each of those anxiety styles and help people start to maybe try to figure out which category they might be in?

Amber: Yeah, let’s do it. And I do have a quiz. So there’s a quiz you can take as well, but I’ll go through each one, and people can think of which one they probably are. And you’re going to might be one dominant. Have one dominant and you might find, okay, but I also feel like I have a dash of Dynamo, right? And so what I recommend people do is when they read the book, or it’s also on Audible, when you listen to the book, whatever strategies really resonate with you, do those. Right. So even if the quiz says, oh, I’m a fighter, if you’re finding yourself leaning towards the visionary strategies, do those like, you know yourself best at the end of the day, and I want you to feel really empowered and aligned with that. Okay, so which one do you want to start with?

Katie: Do you want to start with you as a personal example and then go through the others?

Amber: Okay, sure. So I am a dynamo. So Dynamos are very action oriented and achievement oriented. We tend to be driven by this doing, doing, going, going, going. Planning, planning, planning, achieving, achieving, achieving. And that feels really good. That’s what gives us energy. And I will often say that you may know that you’re a Dynamo if you have a to do list, and then you will add things to your to do list throughout the day that you’ve already done so that you can feel that sense of accomplishment, of checking off more things. Right?

So, dynamos. Some of the strategies that I talk about to help Dynamos are things like getting into the present moment a little bit more, celebrating and acknowledging your last achievement, because Dynamos will often have one goal. Okay, I want 1000 downloads per episode. Got that? Oh, my gosh. Okay, now what do I need to do to get 3000? Like, there’s barely even a breath that’s taken in between achieving your last goal and immediately setting the next one. So a lot of strategies I have for the Dynamo are strategies around getting into the present moment because we’re very future oriented. Right. We’re also very head oriented versus kind of heart and gut. So it’s a lot of tuning into your intuition a little bit more, giving yourself the time and space and breath to acknowledge and celebrate your previous wins and accomplishments.

Now you’re never going to not keep accomplishing because that’s in your nature. Right? That’s what’s fun. So wonderful. Let’s keep doing that. And also, let’s see maybe where is it not serving you so much? And what can we do in that area? So each of these also has a life lesson. So for dynamos, the long term kind of lifelong lesson is understanding that you are valuable, you are worthy regardless of what you achieve. Like, you’re already there. You’re going to keep achieving, and that’s frosting on the cake, but it is not related to your value. You’re not valuable because of your achievements. Right? And really understanding that and absorbing that is one of the key kind of lifelong lessons. But in the interim, I have all of these kind of preventative and in the moment strategies for dynamos that will help them kind of maneuver through the stress and anxiety that can be caused by that anxiety style.

Katie: And let’s go through the others briefly too, I would guess, for instance, like, lover might be a much different style with almost like opposite types of self-care than a Dynamo.

Amber: Right? So lovers are going to be much more, in the present moment, naturally, much more connected to their heart and their gut when they make decisions than in their mind. They are people who really value interaction and time with the people that they love. They want to feel, Katie likes me. Katie loves me. She wants to spend time with me. Right. And when I don’t feel that, oh, my gosh, nothing else matters. Right? That’s first and foremost to me.

So the lifelong lesson for lovers is really about how do I get my value, my self worth from within, instead of what I think somebody else may or may not feel about me today. Instead of it going up and down by my perception of others, it’s coming from within, my self worth and self value. So a lot of lovers can help their own emotional state by how they communicate to other people around them, because sometimes they can come off very clingy and kind of dependent and needy, which sometimes has the opposite effect on the people that they love. So it’s about I have a lot of strategies around communication in the book as well. So that as a lover, or if you’re in a relationship with a lover, how can you communicate a little bit more effectively to keep those feelings of overwhelm and anxiety at a minimum?

Katie: Got it. Okay. Can you walk us briefly through the other three just so we have a context, and then we’ll go forward from there?

Amber: Okay, perfect. So the executive is really drawn to and driven by their need for emotional security, right? And they kind of seek to satisfy this need of emotional security through control, through planning, through organizing, through being prepared, through protecting others. Right. So one of the women that was editing my book, she was an executive, and she spoke about how she is not a mom and was in her mid-30s before she realized that she was the only one of her friend group who always carried a first aid kit with her wherever she went. And she was just, like, seemed so second nature to her, like, well, why wouldn’t you carry a first aid kit? Because somebody might get hurt and need it. And that was just very second nature to her.

And so a lot of the types of activities or things or life circumstances that can agitate and cause anxiety for an executive are things like, all of a sudden the plans change, right? All of a sudden, somebody cancels on you. All of a sudden, even good news, right? So if you’re a Lover and your partner is an executive and you come home and you say, oh, my gosh, I just got tickets to this concert, like, let’s go pack up. Like, we can just eat on the road. Da da da da. The Executive’s like, hold up, hold up. Like, we have dinner plans. We have this I was going to send these emails. I’m supposed to edit this podcast. Meanwhile, the Lover is thinking if they’re not evolved and really good communicators about this yet. Oh, well, Katie just doesn’t want to spent time with me, I guess she doesn’t want to go to this concert. Maybe she’d go if it was somebody else. You can spiral in that direction when really it has nothing to do with you. It’s just that the executive in your partner doesn’t want to change plans like that. That becomes very uncomfortable. So that’s an Executive.

All right, so then the Visionary is going to be all about really having this deep need to make a big impact in the world. They have this kind of very deep inner sense of meant for something more. Right. And what can cause anxiety and frustration for a visionary is either having that feeling and not knowing what it is yet. I don’t know. I feel it, but I don’t know what it is or I know what it is, but I don’t have the bandwidth to do it right now. I’ve got a full time job. I’ve got two kids at home. I have to travel for work. There’s no space. And that’s really frustrating to them. And a lot of visionaries also feel frustrated if the people around them are not also visionaries and they don’t understand. What do you mean? You have little kids, like, you have so much going on and you’re doing a great job already. Look at all these things you’re doing. That’s not helpful. In fact, that can be very frustrating because they feel not heard, not seen, not understood. Right?

So visionaries, a lot of the strategies I have for visionaries are along. How do I communicate more effectively to the other people around me? How do I find other visionaries to connect with? And how do I slow down, not slow down. I’m not going to say slow down, because that’s not going to be a word that they like to hear. I’m going to say, how do I enjoy the journey a little bit more? Right? So that it’s not all or nothing. I haven’t achieved my vision or I have. And in between, nothing matters because I’m not doing what I’m meant here to do. You know what I mean? Like I’m not doing what I’m meant to be doing. And that’s frustrating to me. So how can I also enjoy the journey as a Visionary?

And then the last one is fighter. So fighters label themselves and really feel strongly that they are survivors, right? They are fighters. They are protectors. They will often, if they see an injustice or a bullying situation or an unfairness at school or at work or in the larger community or on the planet, they’re going to feel really involved, right? They’re going to want to get involved, to step in, to be loud about it. They’re very comfortable in the chaos, very comfortable in the fight and the challenge. And what can trigger a lot of fighters, as you might guess, is the calm. Like when everything’s fine and things are going smoothly, that can be very unsettling for Fighters. And Fighters that haven’t yet kind of acknowledged that about themselves and seen it can end up sabotaging good things because that feels safer. Like, I’d rather be in a fight and know what I’m up against than have this false sense because they feel like it’s a false sense of security and just waiting for something to go wrong. Like that’s way worse than just knowing what I’m up against. So I have strategies in the book where I talk a lot about how to help maneuver through that and get more and more comfortable in the calm while still not feeling like your life is boring, right? And so how do you still get that kind of that edge, that adrenaline rush, without blowing up your relationship or blowing up your financial future? Does that make sense?

Katie: That definitely does. I’m also curious based on the way, if you talked about these, if someone’s style can shift throughout phases of life or over time, or if they for instance, I did a lot of trauma work around stuff that happened. When I was younger, and I feel like my whole personality shifted and I feel like I would have been more of a Fighter earlier on. And then I reconciled letting go of layers of that. And even the last one I felt like was like, am I going to lose my edge if I let go of this and realize, yeah, actually I just get to choose when I pick up the sword now. But I feel like it shifts. So I’m curious, do these often line up with life phase shifts or big emotional shifts? Can people change?

Amber: So I would say this is that people change kind of still among along that spectrum. So you just described like a Fighter going from kind of where it’s not serving you to where now those same fighter tendencies are serving you. Now you’re using the superpower, the flip side, the flourish type of that, which is you are not afraid of conflict, you are not afraid of challenge, but you’re more purposeful and conscious of where you approach, where you allow challenge in. Right. So it’s not leading you around anymore, you’re leading it. Right. So you’ve used these traumatic situations to acknowledge, wow, what traits did I learn from that, that I created in myself that wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t experienced this? And where can I celebrate and acknowledge that and use it to make good in my life, to make good choices, to make good decisions, to go where I want to go in my life instead of where it would have been if had I never done all of this work resolving these issues.

Katie: That makes sense.

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And based on how you’re explaining these, I would guess there’s also probably tremendous value to understanding which of these styles your partner is and probably also each of your kids, because that’ll sort of influence how you communicate with them. But is there a way to know on behalf of another person? Especially I’m thinking of our children, kind of which style they might fit into, and then can we use that to shape how we’re interacting with them?

Amber: Definitely. Katie well, I think, too, with your partner, when you read the book, or if you’re listening to it, you’re going to probably see right away. And I would guess most people listening to this are going to be like, oh, yes, this person is that my mother-in-law? Is this my sister? Is totally this one. I think a lot of people tend to see right away what they think, and if not, it might be that somebody is kind of of a mix between two, and that’s common. And with children, I’ve been asked this question before, and I don’t love to label kids early on because they’re still figuring it out, right. They’re still developing, and they go through different phases, right. And especially like, with puberty and hormones and the last couple of years and what everybody’s gone through. So they’re still kind of piecing themselves together.

But I think, like anything, the more that we tune into those individual differences, the more we can satisfy and serve and support our kids in their individuality. And so I think as you’re learning, the tools associated with each one, and that’s why I do think most people like to read about each one, even if they know it’s not them, because they can look and say, oh, shoot, I think my oldest kid might have a little bit of these tendencies. Maybe I’ll look at the strategies that are associated with this tendency and lean on those a little bit and see how he or she responds to them. And if they respond, then great, then great. We don’t have to label them as a Dynamo or a Fighter, but if the strategies associated with that anxiety style are helpful, then awesome.

Katie: That makes sense. And you touched on it a little bit. But can you give examples of self-care strategies for each of the different types? Because I would guess this is probably a blind spot for a lot of women, especially as they’re hearing this and resonating with different styles. I feel like self-care is a hard topic for women especially and we’re historically not super great at it unless we’re intentional about it. So what are some self-care tips for each of the different styles?

Amber: Okay, well first, since you brought it up, I would like to say that self-care, it’s not a luxury anymore. It’s not a like oh, this would be nice and this would be lovely. And it’s really a responsibility, I think, as mothers, because it’s about your emotional state and I think most everybody would agree that having an emotionally solid and emotionally well mother is going to benefit everybody in the family, right?

And there is a difference between what I call surface self-care and true self-care. And that also is different for everybody. So for me, going to a dance class is true self-care, right? For other people, making dinner for their family is true self-care. For others it’s going for a walk. The funny thing is, most true self-care I’ve found does not cost money. It doesn’t even take a lot of time. So like being out in the garden for you, that’s probably true self-care, right? And it’s probably mostly free and you don’t have to do it for 4 hours at a time. You could do it for 20 minutes every morning.

I just want to really encourage women to begin to shift that thinking and also realize that the people around you in your life that love you, they really do want you to be happy. And so what I’ve found is if you say oh, going to a dance class this weekend would make me so happy, if you say that, the people around you are going to want you to go to a dance class because they really want moms to be happy. I promise. I promise.

So if those help nudge you a little bit further along the self-care path and I do want to coin a different word, I haven’t heard it yet or made it up yet, but we need a new word, right? We need something different than self-care because it’s so I feel like immortalized as this like oh, getting manicures and pedicures and this luxury thing that you only do when you have a ton of space or time or money or like a private jet or something and it’s not true. So we got to think of a better word for it.

Katie: I agree. Or that those things that get categorized societally as self-care, then when we hear self-care is important, then we try to tend to put those things on our list, and now they’re a to do list item that’s actually causing more stress.

Amber: What if that one is not a self-care thing for you? Then you’re just wasted time and money doing something that really didn’t and often surface self-care. You’ll find it’s surface self-care for you. I just wrote an article for Psychology Today on this so people can look it if they want to read more detail. But if you come home from it and you’re just immediately sparked again, and then you’re more frustrated because you’re like, I just went and spent money on a massage. And now I came back and the house is even more messy, and you all are fighting and blah, blah. And I should be relaxed because I just did this, and we end up being more agitated than before we even did it. So you know then, that maybe was not a true self-care, because true self-care activities tend to have a lasting impact, right. They tend to release so many endorphins that it kind of buoys you for several hours or even several days.

Okay, that wasn’t your question. But I’ll give some specific examples. So the ones for Dynamo, I’ll give very specific examples because I think that tends to be most helpful. So what I started doing, it’s been a few months now, is I have a girlfriend who is also a Dynamo. She doesn’t have children. She’s in a completely different industry than I am. But it doesn’t matter because we’re both Dynamos. And so we have a WhatsApp chat together, and every night we share with each other on WhatsApp, three things we’re either proud of or a win that we want to celebrate. And so it causes me to get in the practice of slowing down, acknowledging and appreciating. And it gives me a space to feel gratitude for that, too, which is always a benefit, right? And sharing my wins. And I’ll tell you, it really was a practice that needed building in me. So I would come home and think, I would go to leave the message and think, I don’t know, nothing. I can’t think of anything. And then I would stop for a minute and think, oh, yeah, well, this happened. And, oh, my gosh, I had this amazing conversation with this person, and we’re going to collaborate. And I went out to visit that retreat space, and we already picked dates for the retreat that we’re going to do. Like, okay, well, that’s amazing, but caused me to acknowledge things that I really wasn’t slowing down and acknowledging before. And so that’s one of the strategies that I would recommend for Dynamos.

Okay, so for Visionaries, actually, I’m going to skip Visionaries. I’m going to go to Executives. So for Executives, I like to recommend taking 20 minutes, say, sometime in the next two to three days, and you’re going to do something physical that you maybe haven’t done before you haven’t done in a long time that is also kind of silly and playful. So something not like, oh, I’m going to try to play racket ball, like something that you can’t really win at, right? So maybe that’s getting on the floor and playing with your dog. Maybe that’s going and jumping on the trampoline with your kids. Maybe that’s chasing your kids around the house. And it doesn’t have to be something kid related, but maybe it’s getting those roller skates out of the cupboard that’s been in there for 15 years and like trying to roller skate in your driveway, doing something that there’s no right or wrong answer that’s physical and that you’re not already good at. Okay. So it helps you release some of those feelings of control, and you’re doing it in a safe environment, like nobody’s going to get hurt, you’re going to be okay. And also your children and your partner are going to maybe see another side of you that they haven’t seen in a while. Somebody that’s not always in control and always has the right answer and always is planning ahead and structuring everything. They’re going to see this kind of looser side of you, which can also be really beneficial to your relationship.

Katie: That makes sense and I think several things you touched on, I’m going to take some cues from that. Even with my kids at night, I usually ask them highlights of the day, three highlights and three things they’re grateful for, for a similar reason of just trying to get them to think in the vein of gratitude throughout their day. But I love taking that in other directions, kind of in tune with everybody’s, different styles. And I also think just to build on what you said about self-care not being optional anymore, I’m realizing more and more as a mom, of course we know modeling is important and that what we do has more weight than what we say. But I think when we prioritize our own self-care, we give them permission to do that too. I love that you speak so much on this topic and you’ve also used a buzzword a couple of times that I would love to go deeper on, which is creativity and how do we nourish and foster this in our families? This is actually one of my first principles of parenting and that I use in homeschooling. So I love that you use this word as well.

Amber: Yeah, I love creativity. I’m all about creativity. Okay, so let’s see. So for Visionaries, I would say one of the little exercises I would say is think back to this past year and write down a few, maybe two or three, five at the most, of your favorite moments. And that’s an important word. So it’s not accomplishments, it’s not activities, it’s moment. Can you tune into two or three of your just most favorite moments that pop out in your mind when you think of the last several months or the last year? And often what people will find is and this one is good for executives as well often what you’ll find is that it wasn’t an achievement, that it wasn’t something you even maybe planned.

It was just a, you know, so for me, the last time I did this, what came up for me was, you know, when I drive from San Diego to Palm Springs, I drive through the desert, and it’s really beautiful. And some of my favorite moments were just quiet driving by myself through the desert, and I would just pull over if I saw something beautiful. And I would I mean, if it was safe to pull over and get out of the car and just sit on a rock and just take it in, and those were some of my most favorite moments from last year, and it’s free. It wasn’t anything I planned ahead. It wasn’t anything that I was achieving or accomplishing, but it was a really special moment to me, and that I think is helpful to realize, wow, okay, I’m still going to accomplish these goals. I’m still going to have this grand vision, but wow, the more I can tune into these special moments, I can really enjoy my journey along the way.

Katie: I love that. I think that’s such a valuable practice and one that gets often overlooked, like I said in our day of our age, of adding things to our list and scheduling everything and making it a to do list item, and I think you have such a valuable reframe of that.

I also very firmly believe that 80% of most stress is actually mindset. And thankfully, that’s the part we have the most control over. So even if for moms listening, we still have to get all this stuff done like you talked about. We have so much power within our mindset around that, and I think you make it really easy to understand yourself on a more personal level to help you figure out which actually mindset shifts are going to be your own 80/20. That’s going to help reduce your stress while still letting you be effective in the things you have to get done.

Amber: Exactly. So who do we have left here? We’ve got fighters. So with fighters, I would say I like this exercise called Skip this fight. So is there something in your life that’s either on the outskirts or you’re already involved in that you can ask yourself, can I skip this fight? Can I go through all the things where I’m feeling challenged right now and ask myself, do I want to do this? Do I want to spend my time and energy revved up about this? Yes, I do. It’s really important. Okay, great. What about this one? Not really. Okay. You give yourself permission. You can give yourself permission to skip that fight. It is okay.

Lots of times, people that are fighters became fighters because unfortunately, and this is where it can get into really, if you have a lot of trauma, you need some experts to guide you through this. Because I talk about inner child meditations and things like that, so that if you have deep trauma that comes up, you don’t want to do that by yourself, right? You want to be responsible for your emotional self-care and not expect yourself to handle that on your own because it’s a lot. So that being said, if you are identifying as a fighter, often you have developed this protective survivor tendency because as a child there weren’t the caregivers there to protect you that should have been. And so you become very adept at becoming your own protector. And then as an adult, you continue that. And then you want to protect everybody around you, which is beautiful and lovely and also exhausting. Right, exhausting. And also maybe not possible physically to be the protector of everyone everywhere, on every level, in every area of your life. But there might be a challenge. So skip this fight as a way to just be a little bit more conscious and know you have the right to decide always and you’re not responsible for saving everybody everywhere at every time. And that’s easier said than done. I get it.

Okay, so for lover I’d like to recommend lovers have like a little shoebox or a little vase or basket or something next to their bed. And every night write two to three things. You can get a posted or just tear up some paper that you like about yourself, you appreciate about yourself, you think is cool. And it could be surface stuff, it could be really deep stuff, general stuff. Also, I try to recommend you get really specific, like very specific about things that you do or you are or qualities that you have that you like about yourself. And then when you’re feeling really unloved, unseen, unappreciated by others, go back and look through that, go back and look through that list. And often how you show up in the world is really what you appreciate most about yourself. So when you go back and look at that, really try to take the compliment in. I am giving, I am loyal, I am really dependable, I do see people, I do show up for my friends. Wow, okay. Do I appreciate those qualities about myself? Heck yeah. Okay, great. Like sit in that for a little bit.

Katie: I love that. And I know you have so much more than we can cover in one hour in the book so I’ll make sure the book is linked as well in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm along with your website and your quiz so people can take this and run with it and learn from it and use it in their family. And a couple of questions I love to ask at the end of interviews, the first being, speaking of books, if there’s a book or number of books that have profoundly impacted you as a person, and if so, what they are and why.

Amber: Yes, I mean, I’m a book, I’m a bibliophile. Like, I’m book obsessed, so there are a lot and so sometimes I’ll answer this question by like, what books this year did I feel impacted by? And so I’ll answer it that way. The most recent book that I really fell in love with, non-fiction, I see I have to compartmentalize it further, was called Super Better. And so I really enjoyed that book. It was a really unique way of looking at emotional self-care strategies through kind of the guise of like, a video game. Like, you have allies and there are bad guys and you have points and things like that. So I thought that was a really fascinating way of looking at self-care and very different from anything I’d heard, and it’s very well researched and that’s called Super Better.

Katie: I love that. That’s a new suggestion. I will link to that in the show notes as well. And lastly, any parting advice for the listeners that could be related to everything we’ve talked about or entirely unrelated life advice that you have found helpful?

Amber: Yeah, okay, well, I was going to answer one way, and then when you ask the question, I think I’m going to change it. So for me, finding a meditation practice that I enjoyed made a huge difference in my life. So I’ve been meditating consistently every morning and every night for the past, say, ten years or so. And it has helped my sleep, it has helped my mood, it has helped my clarity, my decision making skills, my kind of reconnecting to my intuition a little bit more. And the benefits became priceless. They outweighed the time it took so much that it’s a non-negotiable in my life.

So if you don’t have a meditation practice, especially if you’re somebody who says, oh, I’ve tried that before, it doesn’t work for me, oh, that doesn’t work for my brain, if you reacted that way, you will see the biggest benefits from it. If you’re like, yeah, I guess I’ll try it, but I kind of do it. Like, if you already get into a meditative state regularly through when you take a shower or when you drive your car, or if you go for a jog like my husband does, he’s like, well, I don’t understand why people have to teach meditation. He doesn’t realize he does it very naturally. Like, it’s just part of how he functions. My brain does not quiet easily.

And so for me, a meditation practice was a huge difference. And as part of the bonuses that I have for anybody who orders the book, if they go to my website, Katie there’s guided meditations for each anxiety style and guided mantra practices for each anxiety style. So if you put it in and you say, oh, I got the book at Barnes and Noble or wherever, and I’m a lover, then your email will be full of all kinds of cool bonuses, including some guided meditations.

Katie: And that’ll be linked in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for your time. This has been such a fun conversation and I think really relevant to all the moms listening and I’m so grateful for your time. Thank you for being here.

Amber: Thank you so much for having me. Katie it was really fun.

Katie: And thanks as always, to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of The Wellness Mama Podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.