10 Tips for Postpartum Anxiety - part 2
Here are tips 6-10 (this is part two of a two-part series) on how to live with anxiety.
See tips 1-5 here.
6. Self Care
Let me tell you, self care if the most underrated, and the most underestimated tool in keeping a mother healthy and sane.
It is the most neglected of all tools out there, and the most simple and easy to implement.
Teach yourself how to take care of yourself.
It sounds simple, right? And yet our brains betray us on this front. We tend to ignore our “self”; our truest needs, until our self fades into nothingness. This is when the problems begin.
So how do we implement self care?
Well, it starts in your thoughts. You need to validate your own desires to take care of yourself. “I am worth spending time on me.” “I am a valuable part of my children’s lives and need to sustain my daily efforts through replenishment. Re-energizing myself will help me to be happier and a better mom.”
...Haven’t you ever come back from a girls’ night, and been excited to see your kids? You needed the break. And so many times, I almost didn’t go to that outing or social event.
GO. Get out of the house. Initiate something social, put it into your calendar, and stick to it.
Beyond validating yourself via your thoughts, here are some tips to implementing self care:
Get your husband on board.
Put it on the schedudle.
Say no to some other things.
Understand the research.
Realize this is the best thing for your family.
Realize this prevents problems.
A lack of self care comes from a lack of self confidence. To implement self care means to begin to develop a relationship with yourself.
If developing this relationship is something you have avoided in the past, why? What is there about you that you are rejecting, or ashamed of?
Then take my challenge: spend time with yourself one night each week. This means saying no to husband and friends, if necessary. You need to book and commit and follow through with time with and for yourself. I’d love to hear your experiences
7. Out with the old thought loops, in with the new thought loops
What is a thought loop? is it a real thing? Of course it is! Welcome to being human! Here is what it is defined as:
“the experience of becoming trapped within a chain of thoughts, actions and emotions which repeats itself over and over again in a cyclic loop. These loops usually range from anywhere between 5 seconds and 2 minutes in length. However, some users have reported them to be up to a few hours in length. It can be extremely disorientating to undergo this effect and it often triggers states of progressive anxiety within people who may be unfamiliar with the experience. The most effective way to end a cycle of thought loops is to simply sit down and try to let go.” Source
Thought loops can begin for the first time in the postpartum period, or any time after becoming a mother for the first time. Never have you had so much responsibility and love all in one.
How to break a thought loops? Get all your thoughts out in front of you, on paper (or type them out). It will help you to realize what is happening, the patterns of thoughts that are not serving you, etc.
Then, take a moment to intentionally choose thoughts that will replace those that were filling your mind previously.
PRACTICE implementing this new thoughts not just in this one moment, but throughout your day. I have even put up the thought on a sticky tab somewhere where I see it often (the fridge), or with a dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror. Or next to my bed in a frame... you get the idea.
This is the essence of life coaching, and if you find yourself repeatedly struggling with similar thoughts and feelings that aren’t getting you where you’d like to be in life/emotionally, reach out to me email@example.com
8. Find your warm blanket
My daughter, along with many two-year-olds, has a blanket that she loves to have when she sleeps, or when she is sad, or tired, or if mom is leaving. Moments where she is experiencing some sort of emotional discomfort, she wants her blanket.
I love the idea that children and adults actually are very much the same, at least when it comes to our basic needs, and our general forms of expressing ourselves.
So, what is comforting to you?
Calling your best friend?
Is it a picture or painting you love? Just driving?
For me, when I was really depressed after baby #2, it was going on a long drive out to where I couldn’t see buildings around me anymore. I just loved to drive to Queen Creek (a farm town about 20 miles south of where I lived when I struggled the most with anxiety), and smell the fresh (cow-stenched) air, and see fields for miles and miles. I loved it when the road literally ended, and I had to turn right or left. Seeing the road end was a reminder that everything around me was just an add-on to the plain earth that lived before all of us.
Another helpful thing was going out at night, and laying on the grass. Connecting with earth, it brought me down to an emotional baseline. The trees were my friends.
Also, I really loved finding men of God in the scriptures who also felt anxiety from time to time. Just knowing how great they were and all the good they did, and that they still experienced anxiety in their own ways... It's comforting, too. Here are some examples.
So, what is comforting to you? If you’d like help figuring that out, that is definitely something that I work with my clients on in coaching.
.9. Know how normal this is
...If you didn’t know, let me tell you: feeling anxiety in relation to motherhood is normal.
Here are some WHY’s:
When some of our basic needs are not met, we feel anxious, and eventually depressed.
Here are some of those needs… as you read, think: do any of these ring true for me/motherhood?
The need to feel like you belong
The need to feel your life has meaning and purpose
The need to know that people value you and see you
The need to have a future that is stable and that you understand
The need to feel like you are free/have autonomy/are not being controlled
The need to connect with other people
The need to connect with nature
Many of these needs are made much more difficult to meet during the years of raising young children. Not that raising young children is bad - but we moms need to be aware that the nature of being with littles all day and being in your house etc, does tend to keep us without these needs being met UNLESS we educate ourselves and create ways to meet these basic needs.
Do what you need to do to get all of those needs met. Which needs are you completely neglecting that you could work on? Set some goals. Simple.
10. Let go of the shame game
Mainstream culture, especially with social media, wants to focus on postive emotions and fun. While these things can be encouraging, they can also leave us feeling or thinking that our lives must be messed up, or WE must be less-than-normal, if we aren’t matching the feelings and experiences we see in front of us online.
Seek out others who are talking about these topics (postpartum anxiety/depression) to give yourself a sense of connection and belonging in your struggles.
Here are a few blogs I like:
In conclusion, just know that this article scratched the surface of my knowledge and experience with postpartum anxiety. If you would like some help, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and we will start a conversation about your needs.
Know a friend who just had a baby? Let them know you care and that you see them, by sharing this article with them.
To my lovely dear fellow moms of preschool-aged kids and younger, who are battling the confusion of wanting to be a mom more than anything, but feeling mentally unfit or unwell while pursuing that end, I say: you can do this. We just need to figure out your unmet needs and get you the attention that they need, for now, and for life. I will help you.