It’s ok not to be ok. Becoming a Mum is a God damn huge adjustment, so the highs and lows are inevitable.
This month to celebrate Maternal Mental Health month, we catch up with our favourite NESSA experts to help you re-prioritise your mental well-being.
We asked each expert to provide us with their top 3 tips on managing mental health, see what they have to say...
Kate Moyle, Psycho-sexual & Relationship Therapist and host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast shares her top 3 tips:
1. Stop comparing.Often when we are struggling we compare ourselves against how we think that others are doing, which can make us feel like we
are failing or not doing a good job -
these messages are particularly strong when
it comes to motherhood.
The reality is that often this is our own perception based on what we can see.
Our internal world vs some else’s external world.
Sources like social media can make this worse, so it might be helpful to take a break from social media;
and try and keep your focus on how you are doing today, and then focus on tomorrow when it comes - focusing on the short term can help to make things feel more manageable. motherhood is not a competition.
2. Take the pressure off productivity.So often we can put too much pressure on ourselves to do too much, particularly if we are also juggling work alongside parenting. Try to make a manageable to-do list rather than an impossible one. You can also categorise it into ‘urgent’ ‘not so urgent’ ‘when I can’ which can help you to feel more in control and organised. Having 20 things on your to-do list for the day won’t help if you feel like you are never completing it, whereas if you focus on 1 or 2 things and you do them you will have more of a sense of achievement. It’s also important to remember that productivity may look like lying on the sofa with your newborn, enjoying it, and doing nothing else.
3. Self-kindness.Talk to yourself like you would someone else if you catch yourself being critical actually ask yourself if you would say the same thing to a friend. In the same way, you can catch negative thoughts by questioning them - ‘is that a thought or a fact’.
Next we catch up with Lynda Stretton a leading women’s health nutritionist on her best practices for mental health and what foods can help your well-being.
Check out her top tips:
1. Listen to music
When I’m feeling anxious, I love to play playlists of nature sounds which always
calm me, or if I’m feeling low, I pump out my favourite pop tunes and dance and sing to
lift my mood.
2. Walks in nature
Walking in nature can help to reduce stress hormone production, improve mood, reduce anxiety and improve attention and concentration.
3. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing
When we take short, sharp, shallow breaths into our chest, we activate our fight and flight response, making us feel more anxious and overwhelmed, but when we breathe diaphragmatically – slowly moving the tummy in and out with each breath, we tell our body it is safe and decrease stress hormone levels.
4. Ask for help
Find ways to decrease your to do list and share the pressure with others… ask your husband to cook some meals, or neighbours to leave meals on your doorstep, ask your children to help with chores if they’re old enough. Use the space you create to just be you and switch off from being mum or wife for 20 minutes a day.
- Balance your blood sugar by eating breakfast within 1 hour of waking, eating every 4-5 hours and including healthy protein, healthy fats and fibre in each meal. Drops in blood sugar trigger the release of cortisol, making us feel more anxious and overwhelmed.
Limit caffeine and never drink tea or coffee on an empty stomach – caffeine drives the release of our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol making us feel even more stressed and the effects can last several hours after drinking it too. Try a calming herbal tea instead such as camomile tea or for energy choose ginger tea.
- Up your magnesium intake – when we are stressed we burn through magnesium and when we are deficient in magnesium, the stress response can be triggered more easily, leading to feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed with lower levels of stress. Try to include Epsom salt baths 3 times a week, which are rich in magnesium, and include nuts, seeds, leafy greens and dark chocolate which are great sources of magnesium.
- Food prep – block out time during the weekends to food prep as a family making meal choices in the week easier. When we are feeling low or anxious, making meals can feel even more overwhelming, causing us to grab unhealthy quick options, but it’s even more important now that we look after ourselves. Freeze meals, chop veggies and prep some salads - anything to make your weeks easier.
Hannah Johnson, an award-winning pre-and post natal remedial massage therapist on her go to's for mental health:
Fresh air always makes me feel better and lifts my mood. Even just 10 mins helps you to get a different perspective.
I've always loved running for my mental health and it is my number one stress buster after a busy day
3. Talk to someone.
It's easy to get stuck in your own head but a chat with a good friend usually helps me feel better really quickly.
Post-natal fitness specialist Roxanne Ekhaese takes us through her top tips:
1. Movement every day.
This doesn’t mean high intensity all the time, it means movement that your body feels like each day. If you are struggling,
start with 10 minutes & build it up.
As long as you're switching off & positively moving your body, you will feel the world of difference.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others and what you see on pictures and social media.
Stay on your own path. Everybody's minds and bodies are different, so comparing yourself to someone else’s body or life will not be helpful to your journey. Working on your own path will bring you so much more happiness. We wouldn’t want to compare our kids to others so why do it to ourselves.
3. Make time for yourself even if it’s just for 10/15mins.
Getting some fresh air, journaling, a self care bath, a skin-care routine or meditating. Anything that makes you feel happy.
Taking a time out and looking after just you will really help your mind relax and get those busy thoughts (anxiety) out of your head for that time and stay in to the present.
If you have any tips please share in the comments section x