As joyful as it is to be a part of a child’s growth and development, it is anything but easy. Motherhood is an exhausting, thankless job that can be emotionally draining and physically debilitating. The change in identity that occurs during the early days of motherhood is also startling, particularly for older new mothers who are used to being alone. From that moment until the time that baby turns 18, the mother is responsible for whatever happens (or doesn’t happen!)
This type of pressure can exhaust even the most emotionally strong women. Coupled with postpartum depression and a debilitating sleep schedule, it's no wonder why so many new mothers struggle with mental health issues. Even as the child grows, new challenges arise in each new phase. For those struggling with mental health issues, it can feel like there aren’t enough happy moments to overpower the anxiety and depression that come with motherhood. So, how can a mom cope? Here are some top tips to keep in mind this week during Mother’s Day.
1. Don’t Forget You
It’s easy to downplay our own needs and desires when we become mothers. To an extent, we must if we want our baby to survive. Our sleep and comfort go by the wayside as we ensure our new baby remains comfortable, happy, and well fed. Unfortunately, we are not able to give from an empty cup. If we are running on fumes trying to take care of those around us, we will eventually crash and burn. We need a moment to relax and rejuvenate so we can be the best version of ourselves for our child. It’s important to remember that you are a human being with needs, wants, and emotions. Don’t downplay or ignore your own anxiety, depression, or fears because you are too busy worrying about another child. Take breaks, talk to those around you, and ask for help when necessary.
2. Physical Needs Matter
Our emotional needs are there regardless of our physical needs, but emotions run higher when we aren’t taking care of our bodies. We use the word “hangry” for a reason! Our emotional state is highly dependent on how well we take care of the physical self. If we aren’t eating or sleeping enough, we are going to be more irritable, anxious, and depressed. We need to do whatever it takes to find time to sleep and eat properly. Regular exercise is also critical to help get those endorphins going. Asking for help, sleep training, relinquishing the laundry, and remembering our fruits and vegetables are all great ways to take care of our physical needs. In turn, we will be able to handle our emotional needs much more effectively.
3. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Self-doubt, insecurities, feelings of panic, and depressive episodes are all normal feelings to experience as a mother. We should allow ourselves to experience these emotions without wallowing in them and letting them swallow us alive. When we feel these fears come on, we need to put a giant stop sign up and say kind things to ourselves. Allow ourselves to feel the way we do while also reminding ourselves how good of a job we are doing. Positive, realistic self-talk will allow us to be more effective parents. It will also ensure we are able to talk ourselves out of bad moments so we can be there for the children who need us.
Do you struggle with postpartum depression, anxiety, or stress? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.