One of the most important parts of self-care for moms is taking care of our mental health. Here are reasons why it’s worth taking the time to think about, and nine simple self-care ideas for better mental health.
I’d like to argue that mental health is the most important part of self-care for moms.
We can take care of our bodies and feel like we have things going on outside of motherhood, have mom friends and feel spiritually fed, but if we aren’t taking care of our mental health, none of that is going to make a difference.
When we feel stressed or anxious or depressed or overwhelmed or hopeless, even if it’s just for a little bit, it impacts our ability to function and impacts the people around us.
We aren’t supposed to be stressed or sad or down all the time. Sure, it’s normal to have a bad day, but if you’re having bad days every day, something might be wrong!
Mental health can get in the way of doing everyday activities. It can prevent you from feeling up to getting out of bed, packing lunches, doing laundry, running errands, visiting with friends, and playing with your kids. That can be a problem!
Just like any other part of our bodies, our minds can get sick. It doesn’t mean you’re being punished or you did something wrong, it’s not a weakness, and it’s not your fault. Mental illness can happen to anyone.
One of the most important things to remember is that it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, sometimes things won’t get better unless you do. Mental illnesses also affect moms long after the postpartum period has ended. So don’t feel like just because you didn’t have a baby recently you can’t ask for help. You can.
I know it’s hard for moms to seek out mental health care. It took me months to finally go to the doctor for my PMDD. But one more day of suffering is one more day of suffering, and if you put it off, you’ll just keep suffering and feeling pain! The hardest part of getting help is taking the first step, whether that’s telling someone how you feel, scheduling an appointment for yourself, or even acknowledging that something isn’t right.
The only way things are going to get easier is to open up and talk about them. And not only can opening up help you, but it can also help others who are dealing with the same things.
Now I know that not everybody suffers from mental illness. And even if you don’t struggle with depression or anxiety or any mental illness that can be diagnosed, it’s still important to take care of your mental health!
And regardless of whether or not you have a mental illness, there are things you can (and should!) do to help you stay on top of your mental health.
Self-Care for Moms: Ideas for Better Mental Health
Take time to breathe, reflect, and sit still
This one is definitely harder said than done when you’re a mom, but it’s important. Sometimes we’re going so fast all day long that we forget to be still. It can help you feel more calm (obviously) and present.
Find an outlet
There are several things that could help you release any tension or stress you feel. It might be meditation (the Motherhood Unstressed podcast is a great tool for this!), doing something creative like painting or knitting, reading (fiction or non-fiction!), or journaling (the Dive Thru app is a really cool journaling app that gives you guided journaling exercises to help you take charge of your mental wellbeing-even after one session I felt more clarity and direction!).
Acknowledge your feelings
It might be hard, but you have to acknowledge the feelings that you’re having, good or bad. You’re allowed to have all feelings, and you shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed or deny the feelings you have just because they aren’t “good” feelings. Acknowledge your feelings, feel them, and if you can, move on. If you can’t, do more of these ideas!
Talk about how you feel
Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings and maybe even written them down, you need to talk about them. It might be with a friend, your spouse, a parent, a therapist, a doctor, or even someone anonymous. Saying the words out loud is harder than writing them down, but it can help you start to heal. And chances are, you’re not the only one feeling those things, either!
Read or display affirmations
And I don’t just mean things like “you’re beautiful” and “you are loved,” which are great, and you should definitely read those, too. But I think there are better affirmations to help your mental health. Things like “you can do this,” “this will pass,” “they’ll grow out of it,” “no one has it all together,” “don’t compare yourself,” and “I can do this.” Say one of those to yourself when your feeling like a hot mess and it might help you feel more grounded and like you have a handle on things!
Take a break from screens
I love me some screen time (Disney+ is my FAVE), but it can really help clear your mind and help you refocus on what’s important when you take a break from screens. Try disconnecting one day a week and see how it can help your mental health. I stay off of social media every Sunday and it’s honestly refreshing! If my business wasn’t done primarily on social media, I would probably do it more often! It helps me be present and connect with my family and friends more (which is of course good for your mental health!).
Find a way to keep track of your thoughts and ideas
One thing I struggle with is feeling like I’m going to forget ideas that I have. It might be groceries I need to get, ideas for blog posts or my kids’ birthday parties, or something I want to do for a friend. I usually get these ideas at night and lay in bed for hours feeling anxious trying to keep all my thoughts straight. Something that helps me (a lot) is writing these late-night ideas in the reminders section of my phone. You may want to do something similar, or use a notebook or planner to keep track of things. Mamas are BUSY and have so much to manage, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel anxious when you feel like you’re going to forget to do all the things you have to do!
Sometimes doing these things isn’t enough. Sometimes, it’s not just a bout of sadness or a single panic attack. Sometimes, you need to treat your mental health. And when it comes to that, you can try natural remedies, therapy, or medication. Sometimes a combination of these things is what you might need. Everyone is different, so treatment looks different for everyone. And if you can’t afford therapy (because it is dang expensive), or you just want to do it from home, check out the app Bloom. It combines interactive video sessions with guided CBT journaling exercises to give users a new and affordable way to therapy and improve their mental well-being (even if you don’t have a mental illness, it’s great!).
Have a plan in place
Make a plan before things get bad, before you feel like you’re going to breakdown and lose it. Pick something you can do when you feel like things are getting too dark so when you get to that point, you’re not lost at what to do. It might be to call your mom or best friend, get outside for even just a few minutes to breathe, sit in your car and close your eyes, or go buy your favorite Starbucks drink and drive around for a while. Deciding beforehand what you’re going to do when you’re about to crack will make it easier when the time comes to do something positive instead of negative.
Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, it’s important to take care of your mental health. Mamas, we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of the people around us, and that absolutely includes taking care of our mental health. Fortunately, people are talking more about mental health these days, but there’s still so much more we can do. When we’re open and we share our struggles and successes, we can help not only ourselves, but others struggling with their own mental health, too.