Postpartum depression can be really hard to deal with, especially considering your current life circumstances. You might want to be overjoyed and take care of your baby, but you’re not able to well enough because you’re feeling so low. Along with the already existing responsibilities of a new mother, dealing with extremely low mood, anxiety, restlessness and building guilt can take a huge toll on your overall functioning. Medications and professional treatment can certainly help, but taking care of yourself is just as important. Motherhood is also a time of intense stress, which can lead to more difficulty in being able taking care of ourselves. Making time for ourselves and our recovery can be the best thing we do for ourselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from the people you love at this time, and more importantly, don’t forget about supporting yourself:
1. Have A Slogan
Navigating difficult waters can be scary, so it’s important to have a safety raft that we can always get back to. Keep a slogan or a saying close by that will remind you that the situation is temporary. Something like “This too, shall pass”, or “Heads up and hearts open to better days”, or even something as simple as “I matter” can work as a slogan during your tough days. Saying it matters, but believing it matters even more, so pick up a thought that matters to you.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Feel Bad
When we have a string of good days, we feel like we’re making progress, so it’s only natural that we avoid feeling bad on our difficult days because it feels like a step backwards. Remember that recovery means having to face both good and bad days, and that taking care of yourself during the bad days can make all the difference. Eating correctly, sleeping well and making time for light exercise can help to minimize a lot of the stress you go through.
3. Talk To Someone
Our troubles are reduced considerably when we share them, so lean on somebody for support through this time. It could be your spouse or another family member, a friend or even talking to an acquaintance. If you like activities like writing or art, you can use these mediums to reach out to other people that are going through something similar. Finding support groups, for example, can be a great form of support and community when dealing with postpartum depression.
4. Know The Signs
You might learn to notice the first tell-tale signs of a bad day coming on, such as a growing headache, stomach upset, tension and tearfulness. Noticing our triggers or signs can help us take care of ourselves before the day blows out at us. Eating healthy and lightly exercising, or making sure that you get all the rest you need during these days can save you the trouble of dealing with things when they get out of hand. Take care of yourself and nip the bad days in the bud before they take over your entire day.
Our breaths become shorter and shallower when we feel stressed, and this sends signals to the brain to trigger our stress response, and once the fight-or-flight system is activated, it can take some time for our body to calm down. Taking deeper and longer breaths can instruct your body to relax before things feel like they’re no longer in your control.
6. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
7. Know Your Emotional Limits
There are times when we can take care of ourselves, but we also need to know when to ask for help. If you feel like you aren’t able to handle the oncoming situations yourself, or find that your bad days are worse than usual, reach out to someone you trust. Making an extra appointment with your therapist, or asking a loved one to make some time for you can give you a supportive boost.