Host Amelia Phillips answers our listener questions with simple hacks and products she loves. Today she answers questions on how to stop yelling at the kids, how to effectively change a habit, and how to feel sexy again.
Book: The power of habit change by Charles Duhigg: https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-power-of-habit-charles-duhigg/book/9781847946249.html
Below is an unedited transcript of the podcast episode:
I have a really short fuse at the moment, snapping and yelling at the kids. Oh, I’ve suffered from this, and I go through this quite regularly. Sharon, do you have any tips to help break the cycle? Thanks. Firstly, Sharon, before we go into tips to help break the cycle, one thing you might wanna look into is this hormonal related.
Is this happening at a regular consistent time each month? It could be PMs, it could be per menopause, which starts at gasp, age 30. Five for a lot of people, or four. Menopause. So some of the emotional behavioral signs and symptoms, if it is one of those three things, could be tension, anxiety, depressed, move, crying spells, mood swings, and irritable behavior.
Appetite changes including food cravings. I mean, this is pretty much describing every single mother out there, trouble falling asleep, social withdrawal, poor concentration, and a change in libido. Oh my goodness, that just described me . So the causes of this are chemical changes in the brain, so fluctuations of serotonin, which is that feelgood hormone.
It’s a neurotransmitter that’s thought to play a crucial role in mood states. These kind of hormones can trigger PMs symptoms. And if there’s insufficient amounts of serotonin, it may contribute to these symptoms that we’ve been talking about. So if you feel it is that then speaking to a women’s endocrinologist or a GP to prescribe, whether it’s the pill or whether it’s some progesterone patches, can make a really big difference.
So my suggestion to you, first and foremost is to start tracking. These mood swings, so I’m sure you have some kind of period tracker app on your phone. I still have mine from when I was pregnant and family planning. And you can go in and just log in when you have these angry spells or headaches and start to track over the months if there is a time stamp that this is happening often in that week leading up to your period.
So then moving. No surprise that prevention is better than cure when it comes to having a short fuse, where our goal is to prevent it rather than have to deal with it in the moment, or although we’ll speak about that shortly. So have a think about when you get triggered the most preempt. When is it gonna be?
So for me, I can tell you the two key times are leaving the house in the morning, so getting the kids out ready to school, and the second one is bedtime. When I’m really afraid, at the end of the day, I’m stressed and my fuse is really short. So when are your trigger moments? And then let’s step back in a nice, calm way and say, Well, what can we do to help prevent them during that time?
So one tip that a lot of parenting experts say is to lower your expectations, which is very hard when you’re a perfectionist person, but that frustration comes out of when our expectations aren’t met. So your kid didn’t put their shoes back yesterday, so now because they stuck one shoe down the side of a couch and the other shoe behind the fridge, for some reason we can’t find their shoes and we’re running late for school
But maybe the expectation of them to put their shoes back. Is just not achievable at their age or maybe it is for you. So one thing I did consciously in the school holidays, and it has really helped is I promised myself I would try to teach my kids to be more independent. So I wrote lists out and stuck them on the fridge and before they go to bed at night, one of the things I asked them to do is to put at the front door whatever they need.
Is it library day tomorrow? Is it clarinet? Is it your score? Shoes? And I’ve give them jobs. But age appropriate jobs. And that has taken a bit of pressure off me because now it’s their responsibility to put their shoes in the right spot. And it doesn’t work all the time, but it’s definitely has taken a load off me and it has helped.
And yes, I just keep saying to myself, Lower your expectations. The other thing I think is really important in as far as this prevention is better than cure approach is to reach out to your partner from a place of love and ask for. Or it could be whoever you have as a, Hopefully there is someone in your life that is a little bit of a, a helping hand for you.
For most people that do have a partner or a flatmate that lives at home in a calmer state, say, Look, honey, I’ve been really struggling with these two stages before school and after school. I know that I’m not been much fun. I’ve been a bit of a grouchy mom lately. I’m just struggling. Can we sit down and talk about.
I could get some support and hopefully that’s another way that we can tick that prevention is better than cure box. But let’s face it, our fuse is gonna burst. So what happens when we’re in that moment where it’s burst or it’s about to ? So here’s some of the tips that fairing experts have told me that I have used.
So the first thing I try to do is when I feel that rage come on, I walk into another room, usually the bathroom, and I lock myself in the bathroom, and I just sit there with my head in my hands and I breathe and I breathe as slowly as I can. I box, breathe, so in, in, in hold, hold, hold, out, out, out, hold, hold, hold.
And I repeat that as many times as I can. It doesn’t always work, but it definitely helps. A crazy thing to do is to lay on your back on the floor and do that as well. There’s something about laying down that makes a big difference, although I would not recommend laying down on my bathroom floor, that’s for sure.
another thing if it’s a really bad is scream into a pillow. I sometimes you just have to let that crazy volcano explode, scream into a pillow. Another great tip that Jennifer Kaari gave me was to not say hurtful words. So say you do just have to get it out, and the pillow’s not cutting. Instead of screaming at your child saying hurtful words like, You are so lazy, you’re so messy, you’re so silly.
Whatever those words are, you might just through gritted teeth say, Mommy is feeling so mad right now, and so at least the kids are shocked by your rage. But those words that you say that are very hard to unsay, those words don’t get. And then the other tip that she always says is a good old apology at the end.
So at bedtime or later on when the dust is settle. The volcanoes calm down. You might just wanna quietly go over to your child and say, Whilst I’m allowed to not be happy with your behavior or your choices today, mommy shouldn’t have yelled and said mean words. So I am really, really sorry, and I absolutely did not mean those mean words.
Can we please hug it out? That’s modeling great behavior from prior behavior that maybe wasn’t so great, but at least we are showing compassion and empathy and establishing that reconnection. So I hope some of those tips, Sharon, may have landed with you and please don’t beat yourself up. We all do it and it’s total normal part of parenting.
Okay, moving on, Jade Madden. How do I make healthy habits stick? I’ve always been a bit of an all or nothing person. Oh, it’s so common, and I’d love to change my habits for good. Thanks. A really great question because effective habit change underpins everything that we do. You know, it was really interesting.
At the start of my career, I felt like my job was to get all this fascinating health education out there, you know, whether it be ways to lose weight, food, nutrition, et cetera. But now, a quarter of a century on and with the internet and everything at our fingertips, we have all this information actually in overload.
So no longer do. People like me have to be there giving you the information. In fact, if I rattled off 101 things that you could do today to get healthy or boost your family’s health, I’d be lucky if one of them stuck because you’d probably just be left feeling overwhelmed and feeling like a failure.
The biggest game changer that we can do to affect our health and our family’s health is to become effective at habit change. So I really like that you’ve asked this question. There’s a really interesting theory and model by a guy called Charles d D u h i g G. He’s done a great TED Talk as well. I know written a book called The Power of Habit Change, and he says that 45% of our waking behavior is habitual.
It’s neuroscience and it’s called behavior economics. And he’s saying that if you are lucky enough to be someone that was born into a family that promoted healthy habits, hopefully those habits that are habitual to you are health promoting habits like exercise and good sleep and. Eating your fruits and veggies, et cetera, et cetera.
But if you are like the majority of us who have been raised in this modern world of fast eating and lack of exercise, et cetera, some of these habits that we’ve formed might not be health promoting. So he talks about the five essential components of habit change, which is a reason, a trigger, a micro habit, effective practice, and a plan.
So let me run through these really quickly. So a reason for effective habit change. You need a decent reason. So make a vow connected to that bigger picture. What is your real reason for wanting to make that habit change, and how will that vow help your family and the kids that you cherish? So that’s your reason.
A trigger. So a trigger is, What triggers the behavior that you are trying to change? So let me give you two quick examples. Let’s say after dinner, binging is one behavior you’re trying to change, and the other is skipping a workout. You keep skipping these workouts. So these are the two habits that you’re trying to change, or the triggers I should say.
Just interestingly as a side, he says there are five main triggers, location, time, emotional, state, other people, and the immediately preceding action. So you’ve got your reason, you’ve got your trigger. What triggers the behavior? So for me, the after dinner binging happens when I’m stressed and when I go to sit on the couch, I suddenly crave naughty foods.
So that’s one example. Okay, so then the important part is you need to replace this habit with what he calls a micro habit. And a micro habit is something that takes less than 60 seconds to complete because then it’s achievable for you. It doesn’t seem like a big change, so it needs to be short and specific or what he calls the double S.
So for example, with the binging after. First of all, you won’t have that food in the house. That’s always much, much easier if it’s just not there. But here’s a couple of things. I might brush my teeth to signal to my body. That kitchen is closed and eating is finished. I might cut up an apple cuz there’s something about a cut up apple for me with a little dollar of peanut butter.
That is more tasty than just picking up an apple, or it’s making a quick hot chocolate because I’ll drink it slowly and it will sit in my tummy, but it’s much lowering calories. Or say it’s for skipping your workout. It might be the 62nd things might be laying out your clothes, moving the alarm away from the bed into a different room or the bathroom.
It might be booking that time with a friend so that you’ve got another reason to get up. So what are those micro habits that take less than 60 seconds that you can set up? Then the next one. So we’ve got the reason, the trigger, the micro habit, effective practice. So he says to practice small chunks of the bigger goal.
Repetition, repetition, repetition. So for example, you might say, Look, I’m just gonna commit to doing this after dinner, eating healthy food for seven days in a row. Or you might say, I’m gonna commit, I’m gonna absolutely commit and lock in these three exercise sessions per. And then his final one is to have a plan for when you stumble, because everyone stumbles and you absolutely will.
So plan for how you will get back on track and how quickly you can get back on track as well. For example, it might be the start of the week, might be the start of the term. It might be booking that in your calendar, but plan how you are going to get up when you stumble. So hopefully those habit change tips will really speak to you and you can give them a go.
Jay, let me know how you go.
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Okay. Final question comes from anonymous. I have never felt so unsexy. I have a five year old and a three year old don’t feel like sex. My partner has stopped asking, How do I reclaim my sexuality back? Amazing question. So firstly I wanna ask you anonymous, is it sexuality or sensuality you want? Cause it’s interesting.
I feel like as a mom, I am craving feeling that gorgeous sensual, that kind of Sophia Vigar from Modern Family who just kind of oozes sensuality. And I just feel so far removed from that. I feel like. Sensuality is the iceberg, and sexuality is just the tip of the iceberg. But we’ve really gotta embrace that sensuality.
You know, we lose our body after babies. Our boobs become working machines. We have that loss of identity, and especially if we really did feel sexy when we were younger, and we feel like we’ve almost lost ourselves. If that centrality was a part of our youth, we can feel like there’s a gaping hole there.
We have body image issues. We’re time deprived, sleep deprived. We’ve got the endless to do list. We’re basically constantly in our heads. So how do we reclaim that sensuality? And I did a great episode with Pamela Joy, who’s a sex education expert. I think it’s episode 36, and she says that the first thing we need to do is reconnect with our feminine energy.
She said in general, in society. Honor and elevate masculine energy. So think reasoning, strength, action whilst we diminish and undervalue the feminine energy. So think emotion, nurture, and receptivity being open. So how can we balance the two effectively is what she speaks about. And she said one of the things we can do is get out of our heads and into our bodies.
And what she means by that is experiencing things through physical sensation. So say you’re in the kitchen and you’re just rushing around trying to get dinner ready, just take a moment to smell the onions cooking, to just inhale that and just feel the sensation. Use your five senses. So in this case, it’s the sense of smell.
And just enjoy that smell of the onions or the first cup of coffee you have of the day and just tasting that delicious coffee. Or another example is when you’re having a shower and she says, Water’s quite central and sexy. So when it’s related to water, it can be quite impactful. She’s saying, When you have a shower, really just take a moment to enjoy the running water.
But she said then to take it up a step to connect that with your sexual energy. Just as you’re feeling that water running, do a few keal exercise. Really connect with your genitals. Really connect down there. So that your body is associating these beautiful sensations throughout the day with awakening up your sexual, and if you into chakras, you could say your sexual chakras as well.
I’m just laughing thinking about my onion example, cooking onions, and then doing your keels, but hey, I bet it works. So try to engage that and that’s one way you can really quickly and effectively connect the two. But secondly, we also need to look at our physiology. Are there any traumas? Do you have prolapses?
Do you have any issues with pelvic floor? Because the lack of blood supply and trauma to the nerves down there can have a major impact on us feeling sexual and feeling sens as. Do we have a prolapse? Do we have sore boobs? Do we have backs? Do you need to actually go and seek some help to sort those out?
Thirdly, emotional connection to our body image and our self worth. Is there a little bit of work that needs to be done there where our body image is just really, really holding us back from feeling sensual and sexual? And one thing I’d say to. Goodness sake. You just have to look back through the history of central women.
Think Sophia Lauren. Think of all the beautiful Renaissance art that we see. Sensuality comes in every shape, size, color, race, hair color, body shape. So just remind yourself that. You absolutely have the power to feel sensual no matter what you look like. And a great tip, she said, is find two things that you love about yourself.
It might be your fingernails and it might be your eyelashes, but just focus on those and slowly that will build and that will be enough to help you tap into that sensuality. And then finally, the environment. So what’s happening around you that is limiting that sensuality or maybe those moments that you could have sex with your.
For example, my husband and I just have major schedule clashes. He likes to go to bed a lot earlier than I do. I like to get up early and exercise. It’s just we’re never awake in bed at the same time. Or maybe your bedroom situation, is there a third little person sharing a bed or in a crib next to the bed?
That’s the warding. You do. You have to rethink those times of the days at the afternoon nap. What are we watching? Are we watching news at night and four corners, or are we watching Outlander with red? Jamie ? What are we reading? What sex toys do we have at our disposal? All of those can really make a big difference.
But my take home for you anonymous, would be that quick hack of getting out of your. Tapping into that feminine energy by finding these beautiful moments throughout the day to just stop for 10 seconds, feel with your senses, and then connect it with your sexual energy. Okay, that’s enough for today. Gosh, they were great questions.
Thanks so much and I will see you all back in the booth very soon.