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Mind Over Matter

Christine Pafumi
Oct. 25, 2012

One mom shares how she beats the blues of stress away as part of the Care.com Interview Series

When it comes to stress-busting, Heidi Ferrer is no stranger. With a child who has overcome medical obstacles early on in life, Ferrer has had her share of stress to deal with. We talked to the Girl to Mom blogger about how she handles stress and maintains a positive outlook through anything. Her foolproof methods involve chocolate, exercise, facebook and much more - including just letting yourself cry it all out sometimes.

Tell us about your family.

I'm married to my handsome best friend, my husband Nick, we're both writers in Los Angeles, California and we've been together for twenty years this October. We like to say we met when I was 12, ha!

Our son Bexon, age 5, is the absolute light of our lives. Bex developed a rare form of potentially fatal scoliosis as a baby, called Progressive Infantile Scoliosis.

The Mehta/EDF casts applied at Shriners Hospital for Children straightened his little spine with no surgery...

Our boy is our hero and his life is already a miracle.

As a mom juggling kids, family and everything that comes with it, how do you generally handle stress?

That's a big question for me, I'm now a sober alcoholic in recovery and I have to have balance in my life to be at my best. After my son's illness, I fell into a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression. In crisis, I realized I was self medicating, so I sought therapy and prescribed medication and a 12 step program has been invaluable for me.

I'm very happy to say I'm off the medication now and I find stress relief in exercise, eating healthy, laughter and humor, hot showers, hugs and kisses from my son who is thriving, blogging and connecting with others both via the Internet and in real life- of course. I'm also close to my sisters and my Mom- girl talk therapy is key.

Tell us about your most common stresses? How have you dealt with them? Has it gotten easier/harder to deal with?

Now that Bex's health is better, my most common stresses are normal anxiety and worry about my kid (he was recently being bullied at Kindergarten, which was thankfully resolved), and the usual stuff-- career and money and the future.

I think cognitively my stresses have gotten easier to deal with in the sense that I now know there's no point in worrying about things I can't control. When you've been through a real major problem in life, the little things pale in comparison. That's one of the gifts that come out of it.

Do you have any daily stress-busting rituals or routines? What are they?

Yes, I walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes every day I can or outside in nature for an hour. Exercise is huge for me. I'm also hypoglycemic so I need to eat frequently, little yummy meals and snacks every few hours. And I pray! I believe in prayer and meditation to connect to the energy of something greater than yourself. It gives me an inner peace.

There is no denying it - sometimes mom just needs 'me time.' Imagine that you have 30 minutes of free time to yourself. How do you spend it?

I love frozen yogurt and chocolate ice cream bars right now, but that doesn't take up the whole 30 minutes! I'm girly, I love fashion and to shop, to read, to waste time on the Internet on things like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and I like a great comedy TV show like "Modern Family."

Is it hard to break away for a moment of relaxation for yourself? What is your trick for getting away and making time for you?

It's usually not too hard, because my son is at that wonderful age where he's no longer trying to drown himself in the toilet like toddlers do! My husband works from home as well and he also does a lot of father son stuff with our boy.

If you are in the middle of stressful day and there is nothing you can do to get a minute to yourself, what is your quick trick to de-stress in the moment?

Pray, think positive thoughts, and yes, chocolate! And you know what, there's nothing wrong with a few tears once in a while, it's cleansing to let your feelings out.

Do you feel that your stress can project onto the kids? How do you keep your own emotions in check?

Yes, I'm aware of not wanting that to happen. If my son sees me upset, I explain it so he doesn't worry. He has seen me cry happy tears, too, and I let him know Mommy's ok.

I think you have to protect your kids from a lot of things, but it's healthy for them to see that feelings are normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

What have you learned about dealing with stress over the years?

This, too, shall pass. I'm a resilient survivor and God has a bigger plan for me than I could ever dream for myself.

The kids are finally tucked in for the night - how do you unwind?

Eat some chocolate and ice cream, watch TV with my husband and cuddle.

If you could share one stress-busting tip with other moms, what would it be?

When under stress, pay attention to your thoughts and turn them to positive, loving ones, treat yourself with the gentle kindness you would your own baby. You are worth that same love and care you give to others, you deserve it.

Heidi Ferrer is the writer behind the blog Girl to Mom. She has written screenplays for Fox as well as a number of movie stars, including Katie Holmes, Alec Baldwin, Paris Hilton, Michelle Williams and more. Ferrer is a Midwestern raised, Southern Girl at Heart and living in Los Angeles with her husband and son. Find Heidi on Facebook.

For more helpful tips, check out the Care.com Interview Series: Mom-Stress Busters ยป

Photo used with permission from Heidi Ferrer.

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