There are times in all our lives when we need to take drastic measures to stay mentally and physically afloat. Whatever it takes to achieve a sense of normality; do it!
How much help is out there for individuals or couples suffering with postnatal depression?
Thankfully, there is an abundance of information, clinics and self-help guides to start you on the road to recovery.
Here are 7 ways to help yourself beat postnatal depression (pnd):
1. BUILD YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM – TRY AND TALK TO YOUR PARTNER, FAMILY OR FRIENDS
“Easier said than done!” you may be shouting out. Remember, ‘whatever it takes’. The first step to recovery in most metal illnesses is to admit you need help. Unless you realise this, it’s extremely hard for those around you to do their part, because often times the depressed individual will be in denial.
Sympathy is not the winning formula for help. In fact, sympathy can be demoralising. But, empathy towards you is the golden nugget of comfort and support. The feeling of being supported by others who truly care about your well-being, willing to stick loyally by you, will undoubtedly be a huge key to overcoming your depression.
2. REST WHEN YOU CAN, BUT ‘DON’T LOVE SLEEP’
When your baby sleeps, you sleep. Rest when you can. Some have come to call this kind of sleep ‘power napping’. A small nap gives you power or in other words ‘energy’ which can be testified to being true again and again. Sleep, no matter how long or how short can help balance mood swings giving you a sense of equilibrium.
Here is the warning: Do not ‘love’ sleep
Being lazy leads to an increase of depression. Why? Let us look at an example:
You prepared breakfast for yourself and the baby early this morning. Both well fed, you feel a sense of achievement. You tell yourself the dishes can wait until after lunch. Your baby plays and laughs during these bright morning hours of the day. Toys are left out and unmatched puzzles become the only floor space you can see. After all the playing, your baby goes down for a nap. And rightly so, you do too. As your baby continues to sleep you awaken only to leave the dishes, toys and puzzles in a mess to watch a bit of day time t.v. You are then awakened by the cry of your baby an hour later. Suddenly, things seem a little out of control. Your baby is hungry and needs feeding. The bottle is still under a pile of breakfast dishes unwashed from the mornings feed. Your babies cry intensifies with each minute that passes. Your breakdown is about to begin.
Resting is great for your mental health; but, laziness will increase depression. How much better it would have been if the dishes were washed; the toys and puzzles picked up from the floor and the lunch time bottle was prepared after taking the ‘power nap’, and before your baby woke up.
Order in your life leads to order in your mind.
3. YOU HAVE NO RED CAPE AND CANNOT FLY
We must know our limitations. No one should expect perfection from anyone, so when help is offered, accept it. I would go a step further in asking others to help you. Remember, you have already accomplished step one; so your family and friends are a phone call away ready and waiting. It may be some house cleaning, cooking or some essential grocery items you’re running low on. Just ask.
It’s also a great opportunity to actually talk to someone and have a visit. It will do you the world of good and relieve a lot of tension. Don’t try to be a superhero!
4. EXERCISE REGULARLY TO BEAT THE BLUES
Before you bite my head off not knowing where you will find the time; know that gym membership is not involved. PHEW! Below is the winning formula:
Get you and your baby out the door for a fast paced 20 minute walk at the very least, three times a week (20 mins x 3 = Boost Mood).
It’s typical of many who start exercising to stop within the first month. It’s common knowledge that regular exercise helps our mind and body, so I won’t go on about it in this blog post.
By taking your exercise three times a week for a minimum of twenty minutes it’s much more sustainable. Who knows, you may even start to enjoy it and increase the time.
5. DON’T DRINK ANY ALCOHOL
You want to do whatever it takes to feel a sense of normality and keep it that way. The short-term fix of alcohol consumption is not worth the longer period of ‘down time’. So speak to your partner, family and friends about your decision to stop drinking alcohol and get their help.
Mid blog post reminder: Your support system in step one is the key to your success to beating postnatal depression.
6. EAT REGULAR, HEALTHY MEALS
“Just like we don’t take one huge breath to give us our daily intake of oxygen; eating one meal a day won’t help our mood”.
The vitamins and natural sugars in vegetables and fruit are vital to helping our bodies stay strong and our minds positive. Not eating regular healthy meals sends our delicate inner hormones into confusion, leading to mood swings.
Prepare well and plan your diet in advance. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. The money you will save by drinking plenty of water instead of juices and alcoholic beverages can be put to good use. Don’t eat all your fruit and vegetables in one big batch thinking it will give you super human strength. Regular smaller meals throughout the day will be more beneficial and help keep your mood in check!
Look out for my mood boosting mushroom pasta recipe. Coming soon!
7. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
I’m not talking about wasting time by sleeping more than you need to. Having something to look forward to each week or month is essential in remaining positive.
Do you love a certain activity or hobby that relaxes you; and that you actually enjoy?
Remember to talk about this with your support system so they can help you achieve this. Their support will allow you to get out of the house for a few hours, maybe even a day, so you can have a little time to enjoy a relaxing activity.
It may be as simple as laying down in a hot bath without any distractions. Or, playing badminton with your partner or friend for a few hours one evening. Plan it, and stick to it!
The conclusion of the matter is this…
- Your support system will be the anchor in your recovery from postnatal depression, so treasure them all dearly.
- Do all things in small steps and never leap too high too quickly.
- Find ways that help you stay positive i.e. attacking chores after a power nap and before things seem out of control.
- Do your best to eat healthy and regularly.
- Stay clear of short-term solutions, focusing your energy on ideas that have long-lasting positive outcomes.
- Learn to love the outdoor life by enjoying a fast paced walk or a daily leisurely stroll with your little one.
May your journey to overcoming postnatal depression be successful one!