Chelsea Pottenger on depression, healing and creating mindful workplaces

Xavier Massa

This week is Post Natal Depression Awareness Week, and while that wasn’t something I was aware of when I first sat down to chat with today’s guest, it does not surprise me in the least. The more I chatted with Chelsea Pottenger the more parallels I uncovered between her story and mine, and the more I realised that our experiences of post natal depression and the resultant changes in the way we lived were an important part of that story.

Chelsea is now a mindfulness practitioner who works with large corporations to create a culture of productivity, self-care and strong boundaries in the workplace. She is also currently studying a Doctorate of Psychology and Neuroscience, as well as a Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing. Chelsea is an advocate for meditation and self-care, an ambassador for both the Gidget Foundation and RUOK day, a business owner and a mum. And while she now has created a life that allows her to find flow and long-term balance, it wasn’t always the case.

In this episode Chelsea and I talk about her life pre-PND, the hectic nature of her work, the ways she self-medicated to deal with stress, the perfectionism and comparisons that drove her to constantly work harder and strive for the next level of success, and the inevitable crash. We get pretty deep in to Chelsea’s experiences, and while it may be difficult listening for anyone going through a similar struggle, or anyone who has experienced mental health issues before, I also think that shining a light on these experiences is one of the most important things we can do.

Chelsea talks about the changes she made in learning how to be present, to meditate, to let go of the expectations and shoulds that used to drive her, and the benefits of living a more values-aligned life.

We also talk about the practicalities of her own time management, and how she strikes a long-term balance across work, family, health, community and down time, and why it may not be “slow” but it certainly is intentional.

As a workplace mindfulness expert, I also ask Chelsea about how we can incorporate mindfulness practices in to even the most cynical of offices, and she has some wonderful, practical tips on what to do in your own day-to-day that will help create pockets of slow (yes, even on the busiest of days).

This is such a great, practical, honest conversation that really does cover a lot of ground. I loved Chelsea’s honesty, as well as her endless optimism in the face of incredible challenges.

I’d also encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental health to get in touch with the organisations Chelsea mentioned in today’s conversation. Specifically, The Gidget Foundation and RUOK Day. These organisations have some incredible resources, and are a great place to begin when you know you need support but don’t know how to go about getting it.

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4 Responses to Chelsea Pottenger on depression, healing and creating mindful workplaces

  1. As a fellow psychologist who believes in the power of mindfulness for mental health, I appreciate your covering postnatal depression. So many women suffer alone or get brushed off. Looking forward to listening to the podcast.

  2. I am a social worker in the area of maternity and neonatology and a big advocate of mindfulness.
    PND is something I see alot in my work and unfortunately I have had patients that have taken their own lives soon after giving birth.
    It is my dream that we all talk more openly and honestly about PND and depression in general, and not shame women who are suffering, support them!!
    I have also had my own battle with depression for many years, so alot of what you guys talk about really resonates with me, and since discovering your wonderful podcast and reading your book, I am attempting to ‘slow my home’, and live a more mindful and meaningful life. It’s a work in progress, but I am getting there.

  3. Thank you so much for your wonderful interviews Brooke. Am so very grateful for all that you and Ben do. I really really loved this interview with Chelsea. Whilst I haven’t had children and suffered PND, I do suffer from depression, and found this chat particularly helpful.

    I hope it’s OK to say, but I am also glad you suffered PND (but sorry for what you and your family went through), as I think what you are doing now and sharing with others is absolutely wonderful, and such a blessing to many!

    I remember hearing a quote similar to what you are saying – someone said she wouldn’t wish the experience (of sexual abuse) on anyone else, but is forever grateful for the many lessons, especially on empathy. I am a survivor too, and do know that it has made me the person I am today.

    I am not on any social media, which I know is where a lot of communication is these days, so hopefully you will still get to read this and know my gratitude.

    Thanks so much again, and to Chelsea for sharing her touching and inspiring story.

    XXX

  4. Hello from the States! I’m a college student interested in neonatology, pediatrics, and women’s health, and this podcast was so fascinating. You both are incredibly inspiring women who make wonderful role models for young women like me! Going to try meditation now!

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