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Krista: [00:00:00] Michelle, I'm very excited to have you on Secret Mom Hacks today. I know our listeners are going to learn so much from today's conversation because you bring a lot to the table. We met. Back in May at mom 2. 0, which I'm really excited is coming over to my neck of the woods in 2024.

It's going to be in Nashville next year. So I'm registered. I'm going, are you, are 

Michelle: you coming back? I sure am. Okay. So 

Krista: we'll see each other then. That's awesome. And yay for technology that we can still connect and have conversations like this between these amazing events. But I remember.

We were sitting at one of the tables in that ballroom. And when you told me that your podcast was called the calm mom, I was instantly interested to learn more because I can tend to be high, strong and anxious and. Mom guilt and feeling all of [00:01:00] those things. So I was like, I must learn from Michelle. 

Michelle: And so since then, of course, 

Krista: I've read up about you.

I've I've listened to some of your episodes, and I just want to read one of the things that I saw that I've got pulled up on your website. It says you are a law professor turned motherhood coach and podcaster with big dreams, growing kiddos and the world's sweetest husband. And you are passionate about helping.

Mothers Redefine Motherhood, helping you redefine motherhood. So I'm really stoked for our conversation today. And want to talk about all the things that you do. So before I get into the questions, if you wouldn't mind, just to share quickly a little bit about where you are.

Tell us about your kiddos and however much or little. of their birth 

Michelle: stories that you'd like to share. Okay. Sure. My name is Michelle Grosser. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here. I [00:02:00] am an attorney turned coach. I mean, I am still practicing law although much less than I was a few years ago.

And now most of my time is spent helping moms with their anxiety and overwhelm and burnout as a nervous system expert. So I really help women learn how to reconnect with their bodies and regulate their nervous systems so that we can show up how we want to show up, which is often much easier said than done.

I have two daughters, they are five and six and a half. We live in Miami. And I've just seen in myself, I was someone who was always like. How you kind of described yourself, right? I was just high, strong, type a always going overachiever, just getting stuff done. I lived by checklists and, I loved

all of that stuff. And I was so in my head, logical, analytical, I could spit out a plan and I had the discipline to like follow it to a T. And that served me really [00:03:00] well in a lot of ways until I had children and. Just was so freaking burned out that my body was like, Nope, and it shut down.

And I had to really just reevaluate so much. And in the last five, six years have seen so much growth and just a change in my emotional health, physical health, mental health, because I've learned to regulate my nervous system. So I am super passionate about helping other women do the same thing.

Birth stories. My, I have had two C sections. So I know that can be, I don't know, people have opinions about that. I never really did. Thankfully I went into both of my births. Just being like, Lord, give me a healthy baby and let me walk out of this thing, you know, healthy and that happened both times.

So I was totally okay with it. But I had preeclampsia with my first, so that's kind of what prompted the C section. It wasn't that bad. I know a lot of women experience birth trauma or have these really scary things happen during the birth [00:04:00] process. That wasn't necessarily my story but I just had preeclampsia and they're like, we've got to get her out.

And at that point I was massive, I had gained like 70 pounds and I was just like, yes, take her out. She's healthy. I don't really care how or when, just take her out. So it was, it was relatively uneventful, I guess. I think what strikes me most is not necessarily the birth process itself, but. The immediate aftermath.

We don't have families that live here in Miami I grew up in Maine. My family lives there. My husband grew up in Wisconsin. His family lives there And we just wanted to kind of do this on our own. We lived in a small apartment And we're like, we'll just take the baby home And have it just be us and I don't know if that was a good idea because I was, we were so like we had taken all the courses and all this stuff just like everyone does but man we were so unprepared for what the reality of bringing home a baby would be and how much help we would actually need and how we would function in our marriage being so sleep deprived and it just really rocked us.[00:05:00] 

So I think that, that was more of the birth story that I remember than, than the actual event. 

Krista: It's so funny you mentioned that because in another interview I did earlier this week she was talking about how if, if she had known how valuable this would have been and to just having the money set aside to do it, but hiring a postpartum doula.

Yeah, she was like that. She goes, I've been telling that to all of my friends who, especially if it's like, it's not their first child. She's telling them, if they have a lot of the baby gear and like all the things encouraging friends to pile in together and just. Put cash aside for a postpartum doula.

That's like the best gift you could give a mom. Yes. Especially bringing an additional kiddo into the mix. So yes, the postpartum it is. [00:06:00] It's an interesting awakening 

Michelle: for sure. Yes. Yeah. So many transitions you don't anticipate. No. No. Well, 

Krista: can you share some insights on this concept of calm parenting and how it differs from traditional parenting approaches?

Because of course we all were raised by different families who they had different experiences with their upbringings. And so often. The way we were parented tends to be how we parent. And so, until you realize like, Wow, maybe this thing that I observed, like, I'm, I'm fine. I feel like I turned out okay.

This should be a joyful experience. This is an exciting experience. So how can, how can I make this enjoyable for both of us when it comes to, to disciplining and just teaching this little human how to be a human, [00:07:00] how to be a kind, good human. So I would love to hear your definition of.

Michelle: Yeah, so I, so I'll just caveat, I am not a parenting expert by, by any means I'm a nervous system expert, but I think that relates so much to parenting. So I think the research shows that whether you choose gentle parenting or. Conscious parenting or what peaceful parenting, whatever you want to call it in longitudinal studies that doesn't actually make too much of a difference.

The biggest difference is consistency, so whatever method you choose that seems to align with your family's values and what feels right for you is awesome as long as you are consistent and applying. that method. So I don't know if comparenting per se is like a strategy or philosophy, but for me, what it means is that as the adult in that relationship, I [00:08:00] take accountability and responsibility for my own nervous system regulation, for my own emotions, for the actions that I take when those emotions become The bigger ones are the more uncomfortable ones.

Or I noticed I'm starting to feel triggered. And through that, we really help to teach our children to co regulate. We actually share a nervous system with our kids until they're seven years old, which means that they feed off of our energy and the state of our nervous system so much during those first seven years.

So they can sense, right? Like our anxiety is up. Their anxiety goes up. We're feeling down and out, right? They'll feed off of that. We're feeling kind of edgy and irritable. We'll notice that they're kind of showing up edgy and irritable So there's a huge connection between both of those nervous systems as our Children start to grow.

So that's kind of the physiological side of it. And then we also want our Children, we just want to model for them right what it looks like to express our emotions in [00:09:00] healthy ways, what it looks like to listen to our bodies, cues of how we're feeling and what we can do when we notice we're starting to get Really mad or really sad white ways that are healthy to kind of deal with those emotions And that's really what I can help Women learn how to do and I always you know say as often as I can like my podcast is called the calm mom but I like struggled so much in choosing to name it that because I did not want to be part of a what I think is a problem and in moms expecting or thinking that they have to be calm all the time because I think that's BS and I think it's just not possible.

So if you're holding on to this idea that to be a good mom, I have to be calm all the time. Just let that go because you are a human being and you are supposed to experience the full range of emotions. The catch with that is that when I am angry or when I am sad or when I'm feeling burnt out, When I have tools and know how to regulate my nervous system, [00:10:00] I don't get stuck there.

So maybe I noticed something's triggering me and I'm feeling really upset. I now have tools. I can now expand my capacity where man, it just takes me 90 seconds to regulate and get back to a place where I'm feeling calm and connected and in control instead of it, you know, derailing the rest of my. Day or week or however else it would be when we don't have tools to deal with that stuff 

Krista: we all know Parenting can be quite overwhelming sometimes. So What strategies can you share or techniques that? listeners can use to maintain that sense of calm amidst the chaos. 

Michelle: I think the first thing is just that as, moms, as busy moms, as women in Western culture, we are just so disconnected from our bodies.

I mean, you were talking about the ways in which we're raised. Like it just wasn't a thing in the eighties and nineties for people to be like, you know, how does your body feel? Like, what is that? We didn't just, we didn't [00:11:00] talk about that stuff. Right. Even like, Things like our intuition as moms or just these like nudges that we get.

The thing is that our bodies are always communicating with us. Always. They're always trying to send us messages in the form of somatic cues. So things that our bodies will actually do to be like, Hey, I'm getting overwhelmed or Hey, this doesn't feel right. Or Hey, this doesn't feel fair or this is stressing me out or this is making me angry.

And we are just a culture that gets these messages. How do they show up? Maybe it's a headache. Maybe we notice tension in our jaw. Like we're waking up and there's just like, we're grinding our teeth at night or jaw just feels so tight. I know for me when I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and taking too much on like my jaws.

So there's so much tension there. My neck, my shoulders, they just like go right up to my ears and I'm just holding all of that in? You might experience heaviness or tightness in your chest or that pit in the, in your stomach? When you're experiencing anxiety, maybe you notice [00:12:00] your heart rate increases or your breath changes and becomes more shallow.

I mean, one, if we, if we notice these things, we tend to either. Ignore them because we're too busy, right? It's like, yeah, I feel all of this anxiety going on in my body But I got to make the lunch and I got to do the laundry and I got to do all this stuff Well, our brain is sounding the alarm like hey something's going on here that you need to address Or we're just so out of touch that we don't even notice it and we felt that way for so long that we're like This is just how I feel right?

We don't even notice that there's something going on and we've become a society that instead of listening To the message that our body is sending us, we just kill the messenger. So it's like, I got a headache, I'm going to take an Advil, right? Or whatever it's like, but no, there's something deeper under that.

So noticing what your somatic cues are when you're starting to become dysregulated is really the first step to being able to do something. about it. If we don't know what's happening, we can't do anything about it, right? Awareness always precedes choice. [00:13:00] So noticing what are your somatic cues and really slowing down to, even setting a timer and maybe in the morning or in the afternoon, you just do a quick body scan head to toe and be like, where am I noticing I'm holding tension?

Where am I noticing pain today? Where am I noticing these types of things? And what might my body be telling me in that? Do I need to slow down? Is there a conversation I'm avoiding that I really need to have? Is there something that my husband is doing that's driving me freaking bonkers, but I just haven't sat down and spoken to him about it yet, right?

And our body will communicate this to us. So I like to think of it, and I teach my kids this too, it's like a stoplight. When I'm at green, I'm just regulated. I'm super present. I'm super connected. I'm using the learning brain, the part of my brain, the prefrontal cortex that allows me to just see other perspectives and be open minded and communicate with my full range of vocabulary and mental faculties, the things that make me A good human being and a good mom.

And then when I start to move into this yellow [00:14:00] light zone, that's when I start noticing my somatic cues. That's when my kids are starting to irritate me and I'll notice the tone of my voice kind of changes or my breath changes or I just feel this tension building up and we want to have tools when we're noticing we're starting to become dysregulated to help us discharge whatever emotional energy is there and then regulate and then.

If we don't do that, right, that's when we get into this red light zone where we , have these outbursts and this just emotional volatility, or we just shut down and we're like, I'm so burnt out, I'm so dissociated or disconnected and those are states where our bodies just, we're in that lizard brain where we're not really in control of what we're doing, and we're just, surviving.

Krista: I feel like we talked about this very briefly at mom 2. 0. But remind me, I, I feel like you shared some type of practice when you're feeling, I can't remember what it was, it was something about chest, like tapping or something like that.

When you're [00:15:00] feeling either overwhelmed or like you're starting to go into that yellow light state, what is something that you can do to step away? And to help just regulate those feelings and emotions. 

Michelle: Yeah. So the first thing is just to understand that our body doesn't speak a verbal language.

So we can, and we've all done it, right? You're like, just calm down. Or, you know, it's not a big deal, or you have to go give a big presentation or something at work and you're like, you got this, you're prepared. But your body doesn't really seem to respond to that. Your heart's still racing and your mind's still going and that.

And our body does not speak a verbal language. So we can say all of these things. We can work on our mindset. But the reality is only 20 percent of the nerves in our body actually run from our brain. Down to our body. So the other 80 percent of all of the messaging going on inside your body, you have afferent nerves that run from your body up to your brain.

So if 20 percent of the messaging is like, calm down, it's not a big deal. You can [00:16:00] handle this. You got this. But 80 percent is panicking, freaking out. I'm so angry. Whatever. I don't feel safe. You're just not going to find a lot of. You know, power and telling yourself to do these certain things.

How does your body communicate? Your body communicates through movement, it communicates through breath, it communicates through sound, it communicates through touch. So you want to have tools where you can communicate to your body through those things. What it is that you're trying to convey, which ultimately is safety.

If your body feels safe, it will be able to return to regulation. It doesn't need to be on alert for some sort of threat or some sort of danger, which is ultimately what it is when we're in that sympathetic state of being anxious or irritated or however it's coming out. So what are some tools? Breathing is an awesome tool.

And I know that everyone talks to moms about like, take a breath. And I know oftentimes it feels like, okay, I get it. But that. I don't know if that really helps in the moment. So what I like to [00:17:00] teach moms or to keep in mind when it comes to breathing, it is really, the exhale is really more important than anything else.

You want to lengthen the exhale lengthening or exhale signals to our body that we are not. Running from a lion or a tiger or whatever would happen, right? If our breath is more shallow and we're preparing for fight or flight, which is, which is a stress response. So things like box breathing, where you're just doing the same count of breathing in, holding, breathing out and holding.

So you could do that for five counts. Breathe in, hold for five, out for five, hold for five, and just continue until you notice a shift. That's great. If you have time to like. Like kids, I'm going to take five and then you can go to that and come back in the moment. My favorite tool is it's called a physiological breath and it's a really powerful tool that was just like two or three breaths can really help regulate your nervous system.

So it's a breath in through your nose [00:18:00] and then a second short breath in through your nose and then you exhale through your mouth. So I don't want to breathe into my microphone. You're really gross, but you breathe in through your nose quick. Additional inhale through your nose and then out slowly through your mouth.

And really your body will respond in like two or three breaths and you'll notice a shift in your nervous system. So that's breath movement. A lot of times when I am feeling anxious in particular. That's just misplaced energy in my body. That's got to go right. If I continue to suppress it, it's like holding that beach ball underwater and that takes so much time and energy and effort that we don't even realize we're expending to hold all of that energy in.

So if you're noticing you're feeling anxiety in particular, my favorite All right. Tool for me and for a lot of my clients is just shaking. So you literally just shake you can put on your favorite music and within 30, 60, 90 seconds, depending on, the depth of that anxiety and energy, [00:19:00] just shaking out your arms, your hands, your shoulders, shaking out, standing up and shaking out your legs dancing.

If that feels like a good way to shake for you really lets a lot of that energy. Move and release. And you'll notice that afterwards you'll feel so much better. If you're someone who tends to have ruminating thoughts and looping thoughts and you can get into these cycles of like, you wake up and you're going down a rabbit hole and thinking about all these worst case scenarios and things at three in the morning.

a really effective tool to get out of your head and bring the awareness into your body. And maybe this is what you were talking about, but you can kind of make your hand into a fist and really just tap all over your body, like up and down your arms, up and down your legs. And again, just a minute or two of that will really shift your body's awareness from everything going on in your head.

Into the sensations of your body and can really help slow those thoughts to a place where they're not just going crazy anymore. And then bilateral movement is really powerful for regulating your [00:20:00] nervous system. So something like going for a walk, that's bilateral movement that really helps. You can cross your hands across your chest and just kind of tap on both collar bones for a couple minutes.

You can even match that the side you're tapping on to move your eyes to that side and then the other side. And that type of bilateral movement stimulates regulation in your brain. So it moves you from the center. That's like the alarm and the anxiety and everything going off into a different part of your brain that will help it to feel more safe.

So there's so many tools, like you could probably even Google them. I have, I have resources but those are good ones, I guess, to start. Yes. 

Krista: That's so fascinating. And clearly, yes, anybody who wants more information, they're going to come to your website and they are going to seek more from you. 


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