- Don’t forget self-care! Take care of yourself first and foremost. When they tell you to put on the oxygen mask first before assisting your child in an airplane in case of emergency, it is the same thing in life. Your child will receive the best care from you, when you are your best self. Try to make some time each day for you. Take a nature walk, meditate, eat a good healthy meal, take a relaxing bath, or at least make sure you get your zzz’s!
- Sleep. Some of these tips play into my first point but are important in their own right. Without sleep, it is very difficult to function and will only lead to increased irritability and worsening of your mood. Yes, it seems difficult to sleep when your baby sleeps, but sometimes it really is necessary! About two to three weeks after I had my daughter, I broke down crying in my living room because I had barely slept and felt like I was losing my mind. It was an awful experience, but something that I really learned from. Going forward I started napping when she napped, and it made all the difference in the world!
- Nutrition. I believe in the mind-body-spirit connection. When you don’t take care of your basic needs, it affects other areas in your life. If you don’t eat right and you are breastfeeding, you might start having problems with your lactation. And even if you aren’t breastfeeding, your energy levels will be depleted, and it will be that much harder to care for your little one. A lack of adequate nutrition will contribute to fatigue, low energy, increased irritability and low mood.
- Exercise and be active! Did you know that there are studies showing the positive effects of exercise on your brain? So much so that it helps people with depression have a reduced need for taking medication aimed at improving their mood. Anything helps! A light walk, yoga, or a workout video in your living room. Even use a video game like Wii Fit that guides you through a brief workout!
- Social Interaction. I know that you may not feel like it and you’re already exhausted, but sometimes when you push yourself to get that social interaction, you come out of the situation feeling better than you imagined you would. And sometimes it’s just nice to talk to an adult! Maybe get a babysitter and do a date night with your partner? Go shopping or meet up for coffee with a friend or relative. Whatever feels like it might be enjoyable to you!
- Therapy. Seek out a therapist if you need it! Whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting. A therapist may help you figure out what steps you need to take to start the healing process and figure out if there are any underlying issues that are complicating your situation. There are therapists who specialize in treatment for postpartum mothers. Mom support groups might also feel helpful and create a space for you to share with others going through a similar experience. Having that shared experience can help you feel more connected and supported. Or you might be more into seeking an alternative approach like acupuncture or massage therapy. Give something a try and see what works best for you!
REMEMBER! The mind, body, and spirit connection are important for mental health, so attending to even one of those areas may help you to improve. And remember you are not alone! There is help out there if you need it, you just need to reach out and try something.