Episode 19 – Too much exercise, becoming a new parent, and standing up for yourself

Episode 19 – Too much exercise, becoming a new parent, and standing up for yourself

This week we answer questions about how to maintain boundaries with strangers, what to do when you can’t “fix” your friends, whether there is such a thing as too much exercise, and how to manage the loss of professional identity when transitioning to being a stand at home parent.

Introduction

Chris and Christine reflect on their post-holiday recovery process. Chris described that he overate at a Chinese food buffet and is feeling like he gained weight. He also shares that he misses the snow and cold of Midwestern Christmases. He also realized that he listened to Christmas music for the entire drive from California to Florida and is now over the holiday songs. Chris and Christine also discuss the relative merits of real and fake Christmas trees.

Question 1

I’m legally blind. I still have some sight but I use a cane to get around and frequently people will touch me or manhandle me. Or in other ways get in my way or impose themselves on me. It’s very scary for me, especially when I’m trying to cross the street and somebody suddenly grabs ahold of me and I’m not really sure what to do with it. I’ve asked numerous psychologists here and nobody really knows how to deal with disability, unfortunately. If you could answer my question, that would be amazing. Thanks.

  • Christine and Chris validate the caller’s experience of being uncomfortable with being touched and manhandled by strangers.
  • One suggestion is to pre-emptively ask people to not grab her and assert that you don’t need their help. It could also be helpful to practice this at home with a friend or family member if you are not certain that you will be comfortable doing it out in public. If a person has already put their hands on you, you can physically move away from them and again assert that you appreciate what they are trying to do but would prefer that they not touch you and don’t need their help.
  • You could also wear a sign that asks people to not touch you. Additionally, having a seeing eye dog or other navigational device(s) could help communicate to others that you are independent and don’t need them to guide you across the street.
  • Chris notes that despite the unpleasantness of being grabbed by people that they likely mean well and are only trying to help. Christine agrees that it is worth thanking people for the help but then redirecting them and making it clear that you don’t want to be touched.

Question 2

There’s a situation that’s been bugging me. My best friend who got a girlfriend almost a year ago who is a friend of hers that we share in common. Ever since, my best friend has been bathing in self-loathing. I know in psychology, you’re supposed to take every sign seriously, but she’s being ridiculous, ignoring the help me and my friend have been trying to give her, even blaming my friend for getting in a relationship at this point. I’m very protective over my close friends and the mental torment she’s inflicting on my closest friend makes me stop caring about her problems. So my questions are: one, how should I help fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed, threatens suicide constantly, and blames other people for her problems, and how do I make myself empathetic enough to care? Thank you.

  • Christine shares that you can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed. You can share your care and concern, but you can’t fix them. It’s important to take threats of suicide seriously and provide the person with support such as getting them to an emergency room, calling the crisis line, or finding a mental health provider. Christine does not suggest that the caller intervene herself but rather help facilitate her friend getting help from professionals.
  • It is the caller’s friend’s decision to make. Only they can decide what they want to do and whether they want to do things differently.
  • Chris highlights that the caller has the right to set boundaries and decide whether to continue to have a relationship with this person based on their actions and behaviors. If you’ve taken reasonable steps to maintain the relationship and if it’s not working, you can make the decision to change the relationship.
  • Christine agrees that the caller should not forget about their own needs and emotions.
  • Chris describes that he feels that the caller has taken sufficient steps to express empathy for her friend.

Question 3

I have a question pertaining to exercise. I’m wondering if you could maybe touch upon when you think exercise is too much of a crutch for emotional stability. Is there a limit? I am training to be a healthcare provider, and I think exercise is a great thing. However I just think that there are certain times where exercise is simply too much of activity that people will lean upon to an extent that the detrimental to their health. I’m just wondering if you could speak to when that is happening and what the line might be for that. Thank you very much.

  • Chris feels that exercise is a great form of self-care. He doesn’t think it’s necessarily a problem to manage stress through physical exercise. He also has read that regular aerobic exercise can be as effective as SSRIs for improving mood. He does feel that it’s better if done in moderation. Some red flags would be injuring your body or being overly fatigued.
  • Christine agrees that exercise is effective for mood improvement. She feels that the line for “too much” is individual-specific. Indicators might be physical injuries or not healing from a cold due to the physical stress.
  • Christine notes that the function of the exercise might matter. Is it an effort to avoid thinking about challenging situations or feeling negative emotions? Or is it much more about boosting one’s mood and getting some endorphins?
  • One indicator that it might be too much is if the exercise is so excessive that the person is falling down on other obligations like not doing work or chores.
  • Over-exercising can be a symptom of eating disorders and in that case should be addressed by a professional.
  • There are a number of pros to exercise but if you are concerned about maybe doing it too much you can talk to your provider.

Question 4

As a new mother I feel like I’ve lost my identity, I love my daughter to pieces and I’m so happy to be around her but when I’m alone my mind wanders. I always had a job and now I have nothing to occupy me. I feel so alone and am constantly running bad and depressing things in my mind over and over. What upsets me the most is that I don’t want my daughter to have to see me like this…I’ve tried staying positive but it’s a constant battle everyday, you get mentally exhausted.

  • Christine validates this experience and how difficult the transition to parenthood is.
  • Postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety could be at play here. Christine suggests the caller check in with her primary care doctor or obstetrician. Both conditions are fairly common and treatable.
  • Christine suggests that the caller get dressed and get out of the house every day.
  • Connecting with other mothers of kids your child’s age, whether in person or online.
  • Try to re-pick up your old hobbies and things that have brought you joy in the past.
  • Try to figure out some type of schedule, even if it’s a loose one, to help make your days smoother. It can help to have some structure.
  • Chris reminds the caller to show herself some compassion because it’s a big change and can be quite challenging.

Do you have questions about mental health for the podcast? Call and leave us a message: +1 415-855-0553. You can also record an audio note of yourself and email it to info AT thinkpacifica DOT com.