Being a mum means constantly living life on the edge; balancing out work, taking care of your nuclear and extended family, cleaning, cooking, shopping, and everything else in between. These rush of activities could affect your mental health.
Living on this ever-spinning spiral, you need all the tips and tricks there is to keep your head above water and safeguard your mental health (I know I did).
So, get comfortable. Below are 10 fellow-mum-tested and trusted ways on how to manage your mental health as a mum. Enjoy.
1. Know The Signs Of A Mental Health Issue
The more knowledge you have on the most common/potential mental health conditions there are, the better chances you will have to manage the threat.
Most popular among women are baby blues and postpartum depression. But also common with mums are mood swings, lack of concentration, irritability, altered sleep patterns/sleeplessness, overwhelming tiredness, anxiety, feeling extremely sad from time to time, damping feeding habits, loss of sexual libido, etc.
Watch out for this mental health bother signs and get the right kind of help, on time.
Treatment is readily available and may include therapy, a mums’ support group, or prescription medication. Your doctor could also recommend a new self-care plan to help get you back on track.
Related: Difference Between Postpartum Depression And Baby Blues
2. Invest In Your Self-Care
Self-care is essential to the mental health of all individuals. But this is especially so for mums.
And no, you don’t have to spend hours at the spa/massage house or several days a week at the gym to enjoy more holistic wellness.
Try spending just a few hours each week doing something that makes you feel rejuvenated, something you truly enjoy.
This could be reading a novel, writing in a journal, watching TV, or yoga in your living room. You can also try new facial masks, paint your nails, or just get on social media for a few minutes.
From the remarkably positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and so on, exercising also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood and confidence.
Even better, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits of engaging in the workout lifestyle.
By moving your body and increasing your heart rate with aerobic exercises, you can stimulate the production of endorphins (chemicals released by the body to relieve stress and pain) in the bloodstream, leaving you healthier, happier, more energized, and feeling in better control of your day and life.
4. Keep A ‘Thankful’ Journal
Keeping a journal where you can record something you are thankful for each and every day, will help you groom a positive mindset.
It will help you take your mind away from what’s going wrong and focus instead on the hundreds of blessings around you.
You should definitely give it a try.
5. Reduce Your Use of Social Media
The bane of spending an awful much amount of time on social media is that most of what will pop up on your timeline will be photos and videos of other mums (since you too are one).
Well-meaning as their post and tweets might have intended to be, you nevertheless may catch yourself making comparisons to other moms, especially those who look like their snapback happened right there in the delivery room.
This can have you feeling not so positive.
Also, the less time you spend liking, commenting, and posting, the more time you’ll have to devote to proper rest and self-care.
6. Go Easy On Your To-do List
With so many things to get done and so much swirling around in your head, combined with a nice dose of sleep-deprivation, losing track of time or forgetting serious things you’d rather not, is near-inevitable; which is why you signed up for the ‘lists’ life in the first place.
It would be easy to forget tasks otherwise.
But a traditional to-list is not always the best fit.
You do laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays, shopping on Monday, cleaning on Wednesdays, shopping, and heavy cooking on Saturdays; and each of these days has hour-hour breakdowns of how you are supposed to spend them.
This is very commendable, but the problem is that life as we know it, is not predictable enough to determine ahead of time how much can reasonably get accomplished in a day, every day.
A drama-filled day can quickly turn a to-do list into a reminder of how much didn’t get done that day.
Also, when you’ve had a list long enough, what follows is a feeling of boredom or a rush to break away from the monotony of a routine.
This can produce unnecessary stress, feelings of inadequacy, and frustration.
Since the main point is your to-do list is to help you get through your day easier, you could decide to freestyle you’re your way through on the days your body calls for it, or according to the realities of the said day(s), rather than staying rigid and stirring up unnecessary distress when things don’t happen as planned.
Motherhood is all about learning to roll with it.
7. Forget The Snapback
There are so many pressures mums (especially new mums) face, and losing all that pregnancy fat and snapping back in a matter of weeks is a huge one.
Hold off on the countdown to when you can fit back in our pre-pregnancy tights and focus rather, on spending the postpartum period on rest, recovery, and bonding with your new baby.
Here’s what they intentionally forget to add: Pregnancy permanently changes some things about our bodies.
Even if you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, those jeans may never fit your new hips again.
And all the dieting and workout programs in the world are not going to reverse this change in bone structure.
So, by all means, exercise and get on a healthy diet to keep your body healthy and your energy levels up to meet the physical demands of motherhood.
But stop wasting time and energy focused on this unrealistic idea that your new self is less beautiful than your old one.
It is new and different.
Appreciate your body and all it’s been through, embrace it, and love it.
10. Stop Comparing Your Baby/Kids To Other Children
One of the biggest sources of this anxiety is developmental milestones.
Keep in mind that these milestones are rather broad and no two children will follow the same timeline.
Kids develop at their own rate and in the time that is right for them. Keeping this in perspective is key.
So, rather than comparing your child to another, compare him to himself. Is he learning new things as time goes by?
If yes, then he’s doing great, and so are you.
Just like every mom is different and excels in different parts of motherhood, so are children.
Yes, your friend’s baby may be sleeping through the night already, but yours is doing way better at playing by himself during the day.
They will get there in their own time, and all you can do is support them as they develop.
But that’s hard to remember if you are continually making comparisons and feeling like your baby isn’t doing what he/she is “supposed” to be doing.
11. Ask For Help
For most people, it can be hard to ask/accept assistance, but it’s a vital part of successfully tackling all the obligations that will flow your way as a mother.
Seek help your partner, a family member, friend, or other mum and voice a specific request.
It could be help preparing or buying a meal, babysitting, or a quick run to the grocery store.
The great news is that most people actually want to help.
It’s just ‘how’ that they don’t know. Giving them a specific task allows them to feel useful, too.
Again, if you start to feel like you just can’t do it anymore and that you’re about to reach a breaking point, turn to someone; ask for help.
Don’t push yourself to the limit, or squeeze yourself thin to please a guest.
You don’t have to tolerate or do anyone any favors by exhausting yourself to the point that you can’t function.
12. Find Someone You Can Open Up To
This person will ideally be a close friend or family member.
When you are struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to have someone to talk to.
It’s even better if that person has also struggled in similar ways as they will be able to give you advice on how to cope.
Again, don’t be ashamed to seek out a professional if/when you need to.
If you are sensing the warnings signs for postpartum depression or any other signs of depression, anxiety, or a mental health issue that requires attention from a mental health professional, do not hold off on reaching out to one.
There is no shame in seeking help for mental health issues, regardless of the stigma our society has arbitrarily placed on the topic.
A professional will be able to provide help to you in ways that your family and friends can’t.
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