FINDING CALM IN THE CHAOS: 5 HELPFUL WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AS A NEW MUM/MUM.

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The birth of a baby is one of the most joyful experiences. However, the experience during and after giving birth isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. According to the Black Dog Institute around 14 per cent of women in Australia (one in seven) experience PND. For around 40 per cent of these women, the symptoms begin in pregnancy.

PND describes the more severe or prolonged symptoms of depression (clinical depression) that last more than two weeks and interfere with the ability to function with normal routines on a daily basis including caring for a baby.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma surrounding mothers that prevent one from sharing her true feelings. Life can become overwhelming and even unmanageable at times. 

Childbirth is a tiring process and has tremendous physical, emotional, hormonal, and psychological changes attached to it, which can be very hard to deal with. Be it a mild case of baby blues or severe PPD, nothing should be ignored. Aside from taking prescribed medicines and psychotherapy if required, here are 5 helpful ways that will help you focus on your mental well-being as a new mum.

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5 WAYS TO FOCUS ON YOUR MENTAL WELL-BEING AS A NEW MUM OR JUST A MUM IN GENERAL (ITS ALL HARD!)

 

1: STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER MOTHERS

Comparison is the thief of joy. It results in a lot of anxiety and stress, and the feeling of “not being a good enough mum” starts to develop. Be it on social media or in real life, what you see is not always a 100% true. Remember, social media usually showcases the "good" not necessarily, the "hard".

I remember when I had my first son, I was always posting photos, because dispite being QUITE a hard journey, it was just us, and I had the time to stop and take photos and capture those moments. Fast forward to my second child, there a less random photos in my gallery because it has been HARD, TIME CONSUMING and BUSY. I don't post as much because having two toddlers is a full time gig and usually when we are having a moment someone may want to capture, I don't because I am truly in that moment with my boys, capturing memories.

Whenever you start falling into the rabbit hole of comparison, start by being kind to yourself. Learn to trust your intuition and instincts. Instead of looking down on yourself, own how you parent and live.

This will encourage them to do the same, thus creating understanding and cooperation. Remember that you love your child(ren) unconditionally and are doing your best. 

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Stop comparing your child to other children. Milestones are broadly generalised, so don’t be disheartened if your baby does not do everything at the time everyone says they should. Babies take their own time and forcing them is not the solution. I can't tell you how long my second child army crawled for. It was hilarious. However, there was a time I began to get concerned because of the constant "Is he crawling yet?".

Don’t feel bad when you see another baby do something that your baby is still learning. Just like you, they are unique too, and learn things at their own pace. Compare your baby to himself or herself only and see how far they have come on their journey of development.

This way of thinking will release a lot of insecurities and stress you might be withholding.

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3: APPRECIATE HOW POWERFUL YOUR BODY IS

I cannot emphasise this enough- but you need to stop looking scrolling through social media and comparing others’ journeys to yours. Take a moment to pause and look at yourself in the mirror.

Think of all the things your body has been through. From medications to morning sickness to growing a new organ (placenta!), you have birthed a human being. So, it is justified to look a lot different.

Start your fitness journey (if you want) while continuing to appreciate yourself for what you have done. I am sure you will be able to notice a change in your mentality once you accept the changes. We are crazy amazing! Workout to feel good, don't wait to wear a bikini, flaunt what you got, your body has done the absolute most.

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4: UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CANNOT SNAP BACK WITH A CLICK OF YOUR FINGER

The unrealistic expectation of going back to the way you were (be it looks or emotions) is one of the most significant pressures new mums face. It is the time when you should focus on bonding with your baby and adjusting in your transformed life, rather than the unrealistic expectations of society.

Break the long-running toxic expectations by putting your mental well-being before society. Remember, you are not inferior now that you are looking or feeling different. Both versions of yourself are acceptable. You don’t owe any explanation for when you’ll return to “looking like your old self”.

I also found I have changed completely as a person, not just physically (thanks PPD!). There was a while there I couldn't cry. No, really, I tried... I didn't react to things the way I use to. Eventually the PPD calmed down and I was able to feel emotionally again however, still after the boys my personality, likes and dislikes have changed and its a fine line to ensure that they change healthily and not as a result of losing yourself in Post Partum Depression. PPD can be a big dark hole of nothingness and it's a bastard to come out of. ASK FOR HELP. Do not be ashamed to take medications prescribed by your doctor. Do your research on the pros and cons of each, if thats the route you take with your doctor. You can also get access to up to 10 sessions with a psychologist through your doctor.

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5: HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF BEING A MOM

Take time out of your day to focus on yourself and yourself only. That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and partying. It can be as simple as watching your favourite show for a bit or napping (or partying if thats your thing but I'm 28 now and I can''t hack it like I used too!) You cannot bounce back into your old routine as a mum of a newborn, but you can set certain minutes of the day to just look after yourself.

See what is overwhelming you. Try talking to someone or writing it down on a piece of paper. Your anxieties are valid and as a new mother, make sure you remind yourself about your strengths. I love a brain dump on some paper. Like a semi to do list. Will I complete the tasks? Maybe. Will I feel better getting them out of my brain? YES.

I find I get very guilty leaving my boys for long periods of time (literally a few hours) or leaving them at bedtime so I try and schedule things around that.

I like to go to pilates so I might go 2-3 times a week either with enough time to get home and have a cuddle before bed or after bedtime. Same for seeing friends (usually). For a casual thing I will go after bedtime if I'm feeling anxious, if its a one off event then I can usually convince myself to get out and have fun. Leaving the kids at our own house to be watched usually helps!

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CONCLUSION

Appreciate this new phase of life. Prioritise yourself for at least a small amount of time every other day. Have a bath, blow dry your hair, eat some chocolate in peace!

If anxieties and depression continue to persist and grow, it is best to consult a doctor sooner rather than later. Learn to value your knowledge and trust yourself, and remember, don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. 

Oh and google search mum memes, they also help :P

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