It’s a new year! How exciting, right?
Sure, unless you’re dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, or another postpartum mood and anxiety disorder and all you see is another year of fighting the same battle, every single day. We’ve been there, mamas. It’s a hard place to be, but you don’t have to continue feeling that way all year.
But we want to share some ideas for goals that might help you focus on good mental health this year. These won’t magic away your diagnosis, but having a goal might give you some hope for that light at the end of the tunnel.
5 Great Mental Health Resolutions for Moms with Postpartum Depression
1. Practice Self-Care
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of self-care. When you’re depleted because you’ve been taking care of everyone else’s needs, you won’t have enough left to focus any energy on getting better. Taking time for you, whatever that looks like for you, will help you move along the path toward recovery. Shower every day. Read a book for enjoyment, even in small spurts while nursing the baby. Color! Turn on music and dance with the kids. Call someone and ask them to watch the baby while you run to the store—alone. Take your medicine at the time you’re supposed to take it. Actually go to your therapy appointments. Meditate. Take a walk. All these little things you do for yourself will add in a big way.
2. Be Honest
Make 2016 the year you’re honest about your mental health and your needs. This process starts with you being honest with yourself. It’s time to stop ignoring, stuffing down, otherwise pushing your mental health needs away. Once you’ve done that, you need to be honest with the people in your life so that they may better support you. The next car in the honesty train is with your doctor, therapist, and/or other mental health care provider. They simply cannot help you if you’re not being honest about your thoughts, actions, feelings and emotions, and any side effects from any treatment. You can say, “This isn’t working for me,” with regard to either medication or other psychotherapy techniques used for treating moms with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. They want to help you get better but they can’t do so if you’re not honest with them about your needs.
3. Be Gentle
Your recovery from PPD won’t happen overnight. Your journey with postpartum anxiety might take a little longer than you expected. You won’t wake up tomorrow after completing some self-care and being honest with your therapist and find that you no longer have any symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It doesn’t work like that, and it can feel downright discouraging at times. Allow yourself room to stumble a little, have a bad day, or get a little worse before you get much better. Don’t berate yourself because your journey to mental health wellness doesn’t look the same as another mom’s did; you are not her and her story is not your story. Be gentle, mama. You are human.
4. Write About It
Maybe you count writing, blogging, or journaling as part of your self-care, but I’m going to throw it in here as well. By writing down what you’re feeling or experiencing on a day to day basis, you can get a better picture of how you’re progressing, what may or may not be working, and what possibly awaits you in the future. Doing so also allows you to track moods which can help your therapist better help you. Additionally, if you choose to share these writings via a blog or social media (or with us via a Guest Post!), you’ll be helping other moms recognize signs and symptoms of postpartum depression—and giving them hope for recovery.
5. Help Another Mom
Helping others can improve your own mental health. It’s not always possible for moms facing a new diagnosis to help someone else, but as you start to come out of the PPD haze, you might find it beneficial to reach out to other new moms trying to make sense of motherhood. Whether or not she has a diagnosis with a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder, having an extra set of hands to hold the baby while she showers might also serve you in ways you didn’t know you needed when you had a newborn—and now. You might also find it beneficial to join a postpartum depression support group to work through your issues while also giving other moms light and hope for the future.
These are just five ideas that might give you something to work toward during this new year as you fight your own battle. We know that every mom deals with PMADs differently, so we encourage you to set goals that best work for you. If you’re choosing one (or all!) of these as a goal for the year, or if you have another great idea to add, please share it with our other reading moms. We benefit greater when we all participate in discussion!
Here’s to a happy, healthy new year for us all!