I’m very excited for this weekend. I get to visit back home and spend time with some of my best friends. It’s been awhile since I’ve had girl time and my mind, body and spirit need it. I can tell that I’m running on a short fuse. It could be that I’m approaching the last three months of pregnancy, the endless to-do list of things I need to get done before the baby arrives or lack of alone time. Honestly, it’s probably a combination of them all.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my whole life. It got really bad after I had my son. Ever since I’ve been very adamant about keeping my mental health in check. Not only am I doing it for myself, but I’m also doing it for my children. When I’m feeling depression/anxious it definitely affects our quality of life.
I’m very familiar with what it’s like having a depressed parent. My mother also struggled with depression, and it was very difficult growing up when she was going through a bout of depression. I don’t want my kids going through that experience.
I’m a bit better at hiding my depression than my mother was. My husband didn’t even know that I had postpartum depression/anxiety until I confessed to him after I had successfully conquered it. That’s honestly not a good thing. I’m currently working on this, because I now realize it doesn’t help me if I keep it bottled inside. Here are some ways my body let’s me know that my mental health is being compromised.
Signs Of Decreasing Mental Health
Lack of patience with children
Increasing anger over small situations
Feelings of resentment toward family
Does not find joy in daily life
Views doing fun activities with kids as a burden
These are a fews signs that my mind and body give me before I completely submerge into depression/anxiety. I’m sure there are more that can be added to this list. Please add more in the comments, if you feel I left out something. This will help us create a mommy mental health checklist that is comprehensive and helpful.
Once I began to recognize this particular pattern I start to take action ASAP!
Here is a checklist of things I do to ensure that my mental health is at it’s best.
Getting enough sleep.
Here’s how I make sure I get an adequate amount of sleep
- Set a specific bedtime (for me it’s 9pm). Somedays this time is more realistic than other days but I try.
- Turn off all electronics at 8:30 pm to give myself a cool down time.
- Make sure my kids are in bed 15 minutes before my cool down time.
- Have a sleep routine in place. Right now my routine is drink tea, shower, bed.
Getting Enough Physical Activity
For me this is very important. I personally believe for myself the act of working out helps release my anxiety. My preferred exercise is heavy lifting but right now it’s kind of tough to do that (I’m 6 months pregnant). So I opt for walks and swimming.
Yes I said it. Us mother’s give, give, and give some more until we are empty. I know I can’t be the only one guilty of this. I used to think this a great thing, until I realized that once I gave everyone else the best of me, I had nothing left for myself. So now I do something selfish for myself. Right now my “selfish” act is buying myself something nice at least once a week or every other week. Also, I am going to hang out with my friends. Technically these aren’t selfish acts, but it sure can feel that way when you are a mother.
Getting It Out
Sometimes I don’t know the issues that are really bugging me. I just feel the emotions (I hope that makes sense). Then when I sit down and really think about it, I can pin point the cause of my depression and anxiety. Like right now, it’s keeping my kids busy, prepping for the baby, and wondering how the heck I’m going to care for three kids while my husband is at work! Yea, it’s really taking a toll on me.
I usually write down my thoughts and qualms, then I try to write out solutions to them as well. I have a very long list of things I’m slowly checking off and it feels good.
I notice when my diet sucks, so does my mood. I usually function at my best when I consume nutritionally dense food. It’s especially important since I am carrying a baby, I must provide both of us with proper nourishment.
Know Your Limits
One reason why my depression comes, is because I feel like I should be able to do it all. Perfectionism has been one of my biggest downfalls. I get into a mode where I feel I need to be all things at all times, but I CAN’T and that’s okay. When I start to realize my limits, it becomes apparent that that’s the source of some of my anxiety and depression.
Stay Away From Situations that Induce Anxiety
This one is tough. It’s kind of hard for me to ignore the what’s happening in the world, but it’s one thing that I have to do. I don’t watch the news because all of the bad news, which leads to depressing thoughts. I don’t like to discuss politics often because it makes me feel anxious. When I’m in a vulnerable mental state, I stay away from anything that adds anxiety or depression. Once I feel like I have everything under control, then I can ease back into those things. Everyone has a trigger, and this just happens to be one of mine.
The Importance of Mental Health Maintenance For Mother.
Let’s all make a vow today to start looking after our mental health. We must make it priority in order to live our best lives. So many of us struggle in silence (including myself). The Stay At Home Yogi wrote a very insightful post on What Depression Feels Like. Those feelings were so familiar to me. My hope is by talking about it, that they will become less and less familiar. And I hope they become less and less familiar to whom ever else experiences those feelings.