Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE
Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE

February 20, 2024

January 20, 2021

Mindfulness for Mommy Rage

E:
52
with
Dr. Diana Korevaar
Psychiatrist

What You'll Learn

  • What mindfulness is
  • The neuroscience of mindfulness 
  • How to apply mindfulness in the tough moments
  • Understanding the brain and what is happening beneath conscious awareness to our emotions
  • The importance of recognizing patterns of how we react to certain situations
  • How to help my child coregulate with mindfulness

As a parent, we are stretched and transformed in ways that we never expected. Think about all the ways we are pushed beyond our capacity in ways that we never could have imagined. It’s important for us, as parents, to gain new skills to help us during this demanding time. If we learn the right skills, we can make changes to our life and change patterns of behavior that will impact our children also. Dr. Diana Korevaar joins us to talk about mindfulness, how our brain affects our emotions, and how to use mindfulness to coregulate yourself and your child.

What Mindfulness Is

Mindfulness is the ability to take ourselves off autopilot, which for many of us is a state of multitasking and distraction, and be aware of what we’re doing in the moment. It’s almost pulling yourself from being in multiple places at one time to centered in just one place. It isn’t even controlling our minds. It’s just being aware of what’s going through our minds.

Mindfulness is helpful for healing trauma, regulating our emotions, soothing our inner critic, and leaning into self-compassion. And since mindfulness is just being aware of what we’re doing, we can do it from anywhere at any time.

“If we’re not careful, mindfulness can be something we retreat to with an expectation it will make us feel better,” Dr. Diana said. But that’s not the role of mindfulness. If we go back to the traditional cultures that mindfulness came from, meditation was never meant to be an end in itself. The point was to step back, observe, and gain wisdom to help us understand the behaviours of our minds.

Dr. Diana explained, “It’s important to have a working model of mindfulness in our lives.” This model can be rich and varied. It doesn’t have to look like forty-five minutes of traditional meditation. There are also lots of breakthrough science that can help us weave mindfulness into our lives especially in dealing with relationships and difficult emotions.

The Neuroscience Of Mindfulness 

 Australia has an 8-week government-based program called Catalyst. “In 2019, they did an amazing show on the programs Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. And in an 8-week program if you’ve got a good teacher and you do the exercises, your brain changes in very predictable ways,” Dr. Diana said.

Literally changes. It’s mind-boggling. The prefrontal cortex—which is what controls the ability to be steady and ride the wave of strong emotions and to step out of little pictures and see the big picture—grows during the 8-week period. 

The emotional part of the brain triggers the release of cortisol—the fight or flight response of stress which may be known to you as your temper—shrinks and gets smaller in a very helpful way in just 8 weeks. Our hair-trigger response can get smaller in about two months! 

90% of what’s going on in the brain goes on beneath conscious awareness.

“90% of what’s going on in the brain goes on beneath conscious awareness,” Dr. Diana explained. So these emotions arise from deep in the limbic system, and they cut us off from our logic, skills, capacity to be present in the moment, and our ability to problem-solve. And this all happens beneath our awareness. 

Understanding The Brain And What’s Happening Beneath Conscious Awareness Of Our Emotions

What we call conflicted developmental trauma is the trauma of growing up, so we don’t come to parenting as a blank slate. We come to parenting with all of our experiences. Those experiences are connected to feelings of “I’m not good enough,” “I’m flawed,” or “there’s something wrong with me,” and we’re not aware of these feelings. 

These feelings of shame, fear, and anger can be triggered by situations, and they link to old memories. Then they’re more present in our memories. We have more access to the negative memories than the positive ones.

We have more access to the negative memories than the positive ones.

Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR) is a trauma therapy that uses bilateral stimulation, like eye movement, to help someone focus in on unprocessed memories and can be more helpful than talk therapy. Opening these unconscious memories up can be helpful, because they can be where these negative feelings come from and trigger our reactions. But once we’re aware of the cause and the feeling, we can reframe the narrative.

Recognizing Pattern Reactions To Certain Situations

If we recognize irritability as an emotion, we can learn how to ground ourselves. We can do this by having a chat or writing down the times we notice we’re getting irritable because those unconscious emotions are being triggered. What’s your biggest time of reactivity? Is it dinner time? Or a weekly conversation with your father? This is going to be different for everyone, but if you take notes of the situations that make these negative emotions pop up, you can prepare for it.

“Because a lot of it is repetitive, we can predict a lot of this,” Dr. Diana points out. Emotions are connected to our tone of voice, facial expressions, and even our breath. If we can go into a situation with slow breathing and a calm inner voice, that can help us from being dragged into these old memories and experiences and we can retrain our muscle memory. 

Emotions are connected to our tone of voice, facial expressions, and even our breath.

This isn’t something that’s going to be solved overnight, because other people are reacting with you. If you can go into it with a different facial expression and different mental voice, you can get some distance from the situation. “You can use your body in so many ways to trigger different emotions,” she told us.  

Circuits that fire together wire together. It’s so important to understand that our brains have formed over time and that these patterns within our family are what’s at play here. We aren’t flawed, and there is a way to approach this differently. 

When we assume we’re flawed, we tend to feel helpless like there’s no hope for the situation to change. But with the understanding that it isn’t our fault comes with the curiosity to explore the situation. We are taught at every corner not to trust our bodies. Diet culture teaches us not to honor our hunger, and there are lots of times throughout life we’re taught to disconnect from parts of ourselves.

Noting and being curious has helped me tremendously, and I do it out loud in front of my kids. It’s also a heads-up for them. “Mommy is feeling frustrated right now.” “Mommy’s brain feels like it’s rattling around in her head from all of the questions right now.” Just expressing it for myself is soothing for me, because it’s validating my own experience. We’ve been taught to invalidate our experiences. 

Just expressing it for myself is soothing for me, because it’s validating my own experience.

We do all of this learning to attune to our children and what their cries mean, what they need, but we don’t do that for ourselves!

The compassion system—or the soothe and connect system—works on oxytocin and endorphins. It’s almost like our own opiate system. “There is pretty much nothing in our natural lives that activates this system unless you can imagine cuddling a baby or a pet,” Dr. Diana said. We can use imagery to activate that circulatory. 

Compassion is often misunderstood. It’s often mistaken for weakness, but life is complicated. Activating this circulatory system can really help us through it.

To bring compassion, we really need 4 attributes: courage, strength, wisdom, and kindness. We often think self-compassion is about kindness, and if I’m too kind to myself I’ll get slack. That isn’t really true and need to focus on compassion as wisdom, courage, and strength to endure a situation.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on self-compassion, because we’ve been talking about it a lot in my Mom Freely mentoring community. When we’re not taught to weave in self-compassion and soothe ourselves the way we would our child, the inner critic becomes this default that we go to. 

Even practicing mindfulness, we’re going to snap again one day. It happens. And self-compassion is so important for being able to repair relationships after it happens. 

Applying Mindfulness In Tough Moments

It’s about recognizing the situation. “It’s helpful to really listen to the tone of our internal voice,” Dr. Diana said. If we can imagine a wise mentor telling us to slow our breath we can open up space. Focusing on slowing your breath down has immediate physiological effects. And if you think about a mom using this with a child, they will notice. That gives you a chance to say, “This is hard, isn’t it?”

“The mind is a great simulator,” Dr. Diana said. And that’s awesome because it opens so many doors. If one technique doesn’t work, we can try another. At a quiet time, replay the scenario in your mind. Imagine the kid having a meltdown and now look at yourself towering over the child with your hands on your hips. And think about what you can do the next time it happens. Maybe you can just sit down on the couch, and say, “That was difficult.” You’re really removing yourself from the emotions, so the limbic system isn’t activated. 

We’ve talked about finding a pause and recovering, but this kind of mommy rage can also be connected to postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression. We all have these negative emotions floating around in our brains from years of experience, and we all snap sometimes. But if you feel like you’re constantly angry, or unable to feel happiness, it might be time to talk to a doctor. In some cases, medication might be needed to help you regulate. And that’s okay.

How To Help My Child Coregulate With Mindfulness

We’re all like sponges. We’re all picking up on the emotions all around us. Dr. Diana once worked with a mother who was trying to work on her anger. The mom found focusing on her breath and just breathing throughout the day very helpful. One day, she sat down on the couch next to her four-year-old and said, “Gosh! I am so mad. I just need to take a breath.” A week later the four-year-old flopped down on the couch and said, “I’m so mad. I just need to take a breath.”

Learning to regulate our emotions for ourselves is modeling for our children. It’s the best way to teach them how to regulate their own emotions. “For our children to see us angry, scared, mad at ourselves is actually really important, and then to observe what we are doing and how we make sense of it,” Dr. Diana said. 

Modeling is the best way to teach our children how to regulate their own emotions.

If our child has a bad day at school and we try to fix it for them, that’s going to be of minimal help to them. But if we let them talk about how they’re feeling and name their feelings—name it to tame it—it’s going to be much more helpful to them. And it prepares them better for the world.

Remembering the elements of compassion is also important in teaching children how to regulate. “If your friend won’t talk to you on the playground, it’s going to take courage to smile at her, isn’t it?” 

If you’re having a hard time implementing these practices, or you still need more help dealing with mommy rage, I’ve created a course on everything you need to know about how to keep calm as a parent.  You’re not alone. I went through this too!

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

mommy rage

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Dr. Diana Korevaar
Psychiatrist

Dr. Diana Korevaar is a psychiatrist and a mother of 4 adult children and a granddaughter. Diana has worked for 20 years as a perinatal psychiatrist, helping parents find ways to emerge from the unavoidable challenges of pregnancy, parenting, and relationships, with greater strength, wisdom, and happiness.

In Diana’s work with patients and in her book “Mindfulness for Mums and Dads”, she explains how these skills can be used in everyday life, helping to build emotional resilience and strengthen connection in relationships. More recently Diana has become involved in research into “psychedelic assisted psychotherapy” for treatment resistant depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.

RESOURCES MENTIONED

RELATED ARTICLES
July 3, 2024
April 24, 2024
Understanding and Implementing Responsive Parenting: How to Break the Yelling/Shame Cycle
E:
222
with
Dr. Cindy Hovington
Founder of Curious Neuron
July 3, 2024
April 17, 2024
How to Maintain Friendships (and Make Friends) as a Mom
E:
221
with
Danielle Bayard Jackson
Author
July 3, 2024
April 10, 2024
How Stressed Moms Can Cope: Understanding and Breaking Out of the Stress Cycle
E:
220
with
Amelia Nagoski
Co-author of Burnout
July 3, 2024
February 28, 2024
How to Embrace Career Change as a Mom: Finding Your Passion and Overcoming Guilt
E:
214
with
Jess Galica
Career and Leadership Coach, Best-Selling Author
July 3, 2024
January 31, 2024
Postpartum Rage vs. Parental Anger: How Social Expectations Create Overwhelmed Moms
E:
210
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder and CEO of Psyched Mommy, licensed clinical psychologist
July 3, 2024
January 24, 2024
You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)
E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood
July 3, 2024
January 17, 2024
What Causes Mommy Brain? The Role of the Invisible Load on Forgetfulness and Brain Fog
E:
208
with
Dr. Jodi Pawluski
neuroscientist, psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
November 29, 2023
Prioritizing the Invisible Load of Motherhood: Valuing Our Own Time and Letting Go of Mental Labor
E:
201
with
Whitney Casares
Founder and CEO of Modern Mommy Doc
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 8, 2023
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Perfectionism? Reframing the Concept of “Perfect” in Motherhood
E:
198
with
Katherine Morgan Schafler
Psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
October 11, 2023
Embracing the 7 Types of Rest: Why Moms Are Exhausted and What Actually Helps
E:
194
with
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Board-Certified internal medicine physician and award-winning author
February 20, 2024
October 4, 2023
Interpreting Newborn Hunger Cues and Sleepy Signs: How to Learn Your Baby’s Needs
E:
193
with
Sharon Mazel
Author of Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby’s First Year
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 13, 2023
Embracing Power as Moms: Reshaping Dynamics In and Out of the Home
E:
190
with
Claire Shipman
NYT Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 23, 2023
Understanding Sensory Self-Care: How Overstimulated Moms Can Regulate and Regain Calm
E:
187
with
Holly Peretz
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
August 16, 2023
Navigating Matrescence: The Roller Coaster of Becoming a Mom
E:
186
with
Dr. Catherine Birndorf
Co-Founder and Medical Director of The Motherhood Center of New York
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
March 29, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 2: Facing Pregnancy After a Traumatic Birth
E:
166
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 22, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 1: How Birth Trauma Impacts Our Family Decision Making
E:
165
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
February 8, 2023
Overcoming Mom Guilt: Rewriting the Motherhood Contract and Charting Your Own Path
E:
159
with
Libby Ward
Founder of Diary of an Honest Mom
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
November 23, 2022
The Mental Load of Motherhood: How to Address the Imbalance of Household Labour
E:
148
with
Gemma Hartley
Journalist and Author
February 20, 2024
November 16, 2022
Surviving the Baby Witching Hour: How to Cope With Colicky and Fussy Babies
E:
147
with
Dr. Whitney Casares
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 19, 2022
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Navigating the Emotions, Difficulties, and Challenges
E:
143
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 12, 2022
How to Know if You Have Postpartum Anxiety: Red Flags to Watch for in Pregnancy, Birth, and After Baby
E:
142
with
Dr. Sarah Oreck
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
October 5, 2022
Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
E:
141
with
Dr. Nicole Leistikow
Reproductive Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
April 25, 2024
August 31, 2022
Why Does a Messy House Give Me Anxiety? How to Stress Less About Cleaning and Keep Your House Functioning
E:
136
with
KC Davis
@domesticblisters on TikTok and Founder of Struggle Care
February 20, 2024
August 3, 2022
Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Why Support Matters and How to Find Resources to Help
E:
132
with
Dr. Wendy Davis
Executive Director of PSI
February 20, 2024
July 27, 2022
Overcoming Working Mom Guilt: Why Moms Should Never Be Ashamed to Be Ambitious
E:
131
with
Lara Bazelon
Law Professor and Author
February 20, 2024
February 16, 2022
What is Matrescence? The Transition into Motherhood (And Why Being a New Mom is Hard)
E:
108
with
Dr. Katayune Kaeni
Perinatal Psychologist
February 20, 2024
February 2, 2022
Discover Your Personal Core Values
E:
106
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 26, 2022
When Mommy Rage Strikes: How to Prevent and Control the Anger
E:
105
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
January 5, 2022
Sleep Training Doesn't Have To Be Scary
E:
102
with
Dr. Aubrie DeBear
Founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
February 20, 2024
January 19, 2022
Carrying the Mental Load: How to Redistribute the Burden and Give Moms More Freedom
E:
104
with
Eve Rodsky
New York Times Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
January 12, 2022
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: How to Spot the Signs So You Can Seek Support
E:
103
with
Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
December 29, 2021
Decluttering: The Secret of an Easy to Tidy Home
E:
101
with
Katy Wells
Declutter Expert
February 20, 2024
December 22, 2021
100th Episode: Erica’s Husband Tells All
E:
100
with
Frenel Djossa
February 20, 2024
December 15, 2021
The Pressure to Get It Right
E:
99
with
Dr. Jen Douglas
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 24, 2021
Overcoming Gender Disappointment
E:
96
with
Dr. Renée Miller
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 17, 2021
Adding a Sibling to Your Family
E:
95
with
Bryana Kappadakunnel
Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
November 10, 2021
Regulating Your Nervous System
E:
94
with
Dr. Quincee Gideon
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
October 13, 2021
Momming With ADHD
E:
90
with
Dr. Melissa Shepard
Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
October 6, 2021
Supporting NICU Moms
E:
89
with
Kristin Reinhart
Registered Social Worker
February 20, 2024
September 22, 2021
Working As A Mother
E:
87
with
Dr. Courtney Tracy
Founder of The Truth Doctor
February 20, 2024
September 8, 2021
Caring for the Postpartum Brain
E:
85
with
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Neuroanatomist
February 20, 2024
August 18, 2021
Is Breastfeeding Worth Our Mental Health?
E:
82
with
Johanna Phillips
Maternal Mental Health Specialist
February 20, 2024
August 11, 2021
Exploring Mommy Wine Culture
E:
81
with
Michelle Smith
Addictions Counselor
February 20, 2024
July 28, 2021
When Treatment Becomes Trauma
E:
79
with
Dr. Quincee Gideon
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
July 21, 2021
PMS or Something More?
E:
78
with
Dr. Nichelle Haynes
Perinatal Psychiatrist