Ways to help depression: The Holistic Way
If you are feeling lower than normal and are wanting to try self-management first, here is some ways to manage and improve your mood as a new mum.
Socialising: One of the things I felt lowered my mood when becoming a new mum was the feeling of being isolated. Going from seeing your friends and colleagues most days to only seeing your baby and partner most days. Needing to talk to friends for debriefing, support and advice is so important. Whether they have a new child or if they had children a long time ago, we can all talk about our experience, good and bad. I am lucky and have two friends with babies within a few months of each other. We get together occasionally for food and chats, and its great therapy. I always feel so much better after. If you don’t have friends with children, mum groups are great. A group of women with similar aged children, to talk and learn. Great place to make friends and of course the children get to socialise. These are often free and have activities for the children to desensitise them. If you aren’t interested in mums’ groups. Facebook have so many different mum groups where you can find new friends, ask questions for advice, and create meet ups. Yes, it can be so hard to meet up with people you don’t know and put yourself out there like that, but you will be surprised how many people are in a similar position. Be careful, these groups can have negative people and some bad advice so don’t completely rely on the page for advice, seek professional advice when you need.
Meditation: Meditation if a great way to bring your stress levels down and clear your mind. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-on meditation session, it can be just leaving the room, going to a quiet space, and taking a few big deep breaths. I find things like breathing techniques help so much when I am trying to get to sleep. Its as easy as breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. There are many pages and apps that can talk you through different mediation and techniques to clear the mind. I talk about this more in Talking Therapy: A few of my favourite techniques. Some apps can be pricey such as Calm which is $12 a month/ $60 a year. Insight timer has some free guided mediations to begin otherwise is $10 a month/ $60 a year. There are many more around the same price but with free trial periods etc. But if you don’t want to commit there is always YouTube and Spotify with free meditations or calming music.
Writing: Something I do to help with negative thoughts and anxiety is to write. I have so many lists on my phone its not funny. When I get low, I write about it, write the negative thoughts and the positive ones. This can be used to combat low thoughts, relieve stress, and improve mood. There are so many benefits of writing, it makes me feel like the thoughts are out of my head helping me have a clearer mind.
Supplements and Diet: There are many supplements that can help with your low mood including omega-3 fatty acid, folic acid, St Johns’ wart, vitamin D, fish oils, adaptogen along with many others. Before taking any of these ensure you ask a health specialist especially if you are breast feeding or on other medication. Ensuring you are taking a multivitamin and calcium vitamin especially when breast feeding can ensure you are gaining all the nutrients your body requires. Most of these will be coming from a well-rounded diet but while breast feeding or feeling extremely tired from lack of sleep the body can need more nutrients to replenish and recover. These unfortunately means laying off on the sugar. This became hard for me when I started to get very tired as I love chocolate but am working on improving my diet again now, I am gaining some energy back. Having a diet with plenty, vegetables and protein gives your body the energy it needs to work as hard as it does at the moment. This include reducing sugary drinks, fatty and processed food. Meaning you also need to ensure you eat regularly in general, I know some mothers get so busy that they skip meals. Create an alarm or have snacks around the house to remind yourself to eat. A low mood is not helped if you are drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
Routine and Goals: Much like your baby sometimes you need to create more of a routine in your life. Structure when you eat, sleep, and do other activities. Yes, this can be hard if your baby doesn’t have a routine yet and will change regularly with them but trying to create some systems amongst the crazy can help your mind find some patterns. Creating small achievable goals for each day can help you feel successful. Some days it may be as low as having a shower, other days it can be to attack the pile of laundry. The main thing is to make them achievable and give yourself a break. There is a lot on your plate and with a low mood comes low energy. If it wasn’t for a person completely relying on me, I don’t know if I would get out of bed some days.
Exercise: Something I find helps me so much with my mental health is exercise. When I have the energy, and get up before the Queensland heat hits, I go for a walk with Quen. I also play netball one night a week, thankfully my partner is able to look after him so I can do so. When I can I enjoy going for a swim and doing laps, this helps me clear my head and is like a breathing exercise. Plus of course, the endorphins! I took Quen to a few swimming lessons. I found a lot of places even do them for free for under 6 months. If you want other options to do with your baby, there is yoga classes and mum exercise groups. Otherwise at home you can do small exercises or yoga, I found yoga with Adrianne on YouTube great, plus its free. This is all dependent on your level of fitness, energy, and time. Many of these can be a great desensitising time for your baby, even if its just taking him to a park and doing a little exercise there. Trees are fascinating for them.
Sleep: Ahh the allusive sleep. I know some babies can be so hard to get a good night’s sleep. Creating a good sleep environment and routine can help both of you, and of course like they say, sleep when baby sleeps. Day naps can help even if it is just an hour long. But I know, you can get all the sleep in the world, but when it’s as broken as it is, its horrible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from partner, family, or friend. You need your sleep. Even if they care for the baby for a few hours while you get some rest, Great! Depending on Quen’s routine depending on how my partner would help. If he was working, he used to do the bedtime routine and I would get some sleep in the early afternoon. If he had days off, he would do the 9/10 pm feed. Now Quen is only feeding once at night, but still managing to wake me up lots, my partner takes him in the early morning so I can sleep in. Yes, I know I’m spoilt with my partner, but unfortunately, we don’t currently have any help from family, so we rely on each other a lot.
The next part is the ‘when you can’ bits. These can be extremely hard to fit in to a day with a demanding baby, but you do need sometime for selfcare. Never be afraid to ask your partner or family to create some me time and do some selfcare. Sometimes your partner doesn’t realise what you need. Your job can be 24/7 so taking an hour or two is not selfish. Have a long shower or bath, give yourself a facial, read a book, get a massage, or even just have a nap. Do something that you used to do pre baby that helped you relax. I sometimes take the baby monitor with me in the shower so I can see him sleep. This way I know he’s okay and helps stop the phantom cries or the mum guilt. He is fine and I can enjoy my shower, yes! These are the small wins, but they make a big difference.
Feel free to comment below what you do to improve your mood or self-care.