I loved this post on Wellpostpartum Weblog today:
Eight Natural Ways to Boost Seratonin and Mood
Not only was it very helpful, but the items on this list are just all-around great health tips. Very well-written and informative article. These are things I have or am incorporating into my life already and it really does help so much. I feel better all the way around. Check it out!
*Disclaimer: Advice on Out of the Valley and in this blog is not to replace the advice of your physician or medical professional. Informational purposes only.
Education & Research, Self-care & Healing
Today is the day. The Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is happening right now at Postpartum Progress. I cannot wait to read the letters! I haven’t been able to slow down enough today to do it so it’ll probably be until tonight or tomorrow before I can read all of them, but from what I have seen already – WOW!
The kick-off post is here: Kick-off Post for Rally
My letter was posted this morning and you can read it here: Tara Mock: Letter to New Moms
Head over to Postpartum Progress to read more! Send the link to all the new moms or pregnant moms you know!
Encouragement, Media, Ministry News, Self-care & Healing, Survivor Stories
Do you ever feel so bogged down by all the you need to get done during the day that you just mentally shut down and get nothing done? I do that often. Add to the mix utter exhaustion, depression, anxiety, frustration, lack of motivation, and it’s not a pretty picture. Perhaps there is even an element of perfectionism – you won’t be able to get it done exactly like you want it or pictured it so why bother?
On those days, I have to put one foot in front of the other and conciously think about one step at a time. I remember having to even take one breath at a time. That’s ok, too. Sometimes the thought process would be, “My goal in the next 30 minutes is to fold and put away the load of towels.” The sense of accomplishment that would follow would actually motivate me to set another micro-goal for the next 30 minutes. If a goal didn’t get accomplished, that is ok. There were plenty more 30-minute time segments coming up to try again.
Today, try setting one micro-goal for the next thirty minutes. If it doesn’t happen, try again. When you get it done, set another goal. Keep trying, one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time. You can do it!
And don’t expect it to be perfect. Just get it done. :)
Self-care & Healing
At my personal blog, there is a meme/carnival (I’m not sure which term to use?) that I participate in where you list your blessings or works of God in your life. It is hosted at a A Dusty Frame. If you have not ever read Liz’s blog, it is wonderful. This is a lady going through something very difficult. While her circumstances are certainly different from a postpartum mood disorder, her reliance upon the Lord to help her through a difficult time is really inspirational. One journey is not more difficult or easier than another – just different.
What I have learned, through Liz, by participating in this carnival is that by listing my blessings, noticing them, I always feel much better afterwards. Yes, it can be a hard thing to do when the day is gray and it takes every ounce of energy to take care of the baby(ies)/children, but it really lifts the spirits and helps us turn our eyes to the One who cares so much for us. ”The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…” -Psalm 34:18
Why not try it? Start with the little things. It does not have to be big. Here is an example of a list I would have made when I was sick…
- I noticed how beautiful my son’s eyes are. He really is cute.
- I am thankful I got to sleep an extra 20 minutes while my husband fed the baby.
- I received an email from a friend. It encouraged me and made me smile.
- The sun is shining today.
- I was able to take a shower. It felt really good.
- I didn’t cry today.
- I successfully spent 3 hours alone with my baby and I did it. I really did it!
Try writing these things down – big things, little things, the blessings, the victories, the things that make you smile and make you happy, the answered prayers, the encouragements. And read them to yourself.
Self-care & Healing
I wanted to point you all to a great post at Becoming Me about being transparent. The author shares about her experience with postpartum depression then her choice to become transparent regarding what she went through. What I love is her wisdom about how and when and with what to be transparent about.
When you are through with that, you can click on her menu item at the top of her blog titled “PPD” and read more! Hers is an excellent blog, I recommend it!
Care for Others, Self-care & Healing
This past Valentine’s Day weekend, as well as other factors, inspired me to really think about this illness and the affect it has on our spouse (or significant other, depending on your personal situation, I make no assumptions or judgments here). The past couple of years have brought about a great support system and wealth of information for dads and postpartum mood disorders. You can see my list of those resources here: PPD Resources. Karen Kleiman also has a book entitled The Postpartum Husband that will help as well. (I have not personally read this book yet, but all of her books are excellent resources.)
There is no doubt that struggling with a PPMD can be stressful on a marriage. In fact, it may be necessary at some point to seek marital or pastoral counseling and there is no shame in that! But speaking in the here and now, what are some things you can generally do to keep your communication open with each other and provide mutual support through an incredibly stressful time? Here are some suggestions, and please comment if you have more:
- Date nights: I believe this is a must. Postively, absolutely, if at all humanly possible, have a regular date night. Mom, this will give you a much-needed break. What a great time to talk without distractions! If you have a very hard time leaving the house or baby, perhaps start in small increments – 30 minutes the first week, 45 minutes the next, etc. You will not regret this!
- Daily walk: Exercise is so healthy for both of you, especially your mental health. Grab the stroller, and take a family walk. Make this a habit!
- Couple’s “quiet time”: Grab a devotional book and/or your Bible and take a few minutes before bed each night or in the morning before the day begins (I know all relative with a newborn!) and read and discuss a short devotional together, or read a short passage of Scripture and talk about it. You do not need to be theological scholars by any means! Just talk about it.
- Pray together: This is such an intimate thing to do together. Take a quiet moment when the baby is sleeping, perhaps it would be after your “quiet time” together or when you part ways for the day, but take time to pray together – pray for health and safety as each goes about the day, for your marriage, for recovery and healing from the PPD and medical decisions related to that, for the baby, for personal needs, friends’ needs, anything that comes to mind. Again, nothing eloquent or wordy – just be yourselves, together.
- Laugh: Laughter is so healing! Grab a comedy movie, some popcorn, and enjoy it together! Watch a favorite televised sitcom or some reruns. Play a fun board game, especially one you perhaps haven’t played in years. When that precious baby starts smiling and interacting, trust me when I say that you will have lots to start laughing at!
Any other ideas? What worked for you and your marriage? What did NOT work?
Care for Others, Self-care & Healing
Oh, the cold is driving me bonkers.
Ok, so don’t laugh. I know I live in Florida, the land of Sunshine and Sunny Days. But here in the NE section, we get some cold spells this time of year and this year, we have gotten several. I count myself fortunate to live here knowing that we do not have long winters and it will not be long before another warm spell comes along and the kids can play outside again.
I have a whole new respect for you Northern girls. How do you do it?? How do you get through the winter months, particularly if you are a mom suffering from a PPMD (postpartum mood disorder) and the gray, cold days just bring you down? What can you do to get through it?
I’ll list some tips off the top of my head. I know some are difficult to do, especially when depressed, but I strongly encourage you to take the steps necessary to do them. It will be worth it.
And please comment if you have further tips! I would love for us all to share some.
- MOPS or other similar Moms Clubs are great resources this time of year. Some meet weekly, every other week, once a month. Visit www.mops.org to find one in your area, or check local parenting publications and churches.
- If you are located near an indoor mall, most open at 8am or 9am for mall walkers. Grab that stroller and WALK. The exercise is great, the elderly population who mall-walk are so sweet smiling at the baby(ies), and you can top it off by letting older children (if you have any) play at the indoor playground (if available). Ours has a Chick-Fil-A that is open that early as well.
- Following up on the above point, check out StrollerStrides. You can search for classes in your area where you can take your baby and your stroller and workout! They also feature an information page on PPD. They get five stars alone in my book just for that.
- Call a friend, arrange a playdate. Even if your babies are infants, take care of them while chatting over coffee or tea. We women need each other. Just pick up the phone and call. You never know when the other mom is desperately waiting for her own phone to ring.
- Think forward to the sunshine coming. I know its hard in the moment, but it will come.
- My grocery store has a floral section, I hope yours does as well. Bring spring early to your house by buying some fresh flowers for your table or bedroom or fireplace mantle. Fresh flowers always do the heart good. (Except when they make me sneeze. :) )
- Join a women’s small group Bible study. If your church does not offer one, find a local church who does. Most do not mind and even welcome anyone to come in and join. If it is a morning Bible study, childcare is usually offered.
- Any other suggestions?
Self-care & Healing
Sleep and a recent research study have been posted in the PPD blog world lately, for good reason. I see no need to repeat it here when its said really well already at Lauren Hale’s blog Sharing the Journey and Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress, among others I am sure.
My son is almost four years old which puts my initial PPD crisis at almost four years ago. Sleep was one of the major triggers (or rather, the deprivation of), but what I cannot get over is that I still have to be very careful about my sleep. Was I always built that way and motherhood magnified it? I am not sure. But I do know it is a challenge for me personally.
It is hard not to lose my patience. It is frustrating when I just. want. them. to. sleep. When one kid wakes up, the other inevitably wakes up. (I am convinced they have a conspiracy going.) My husband takes one kid and I, the other. And then pray for sleep to settle over us all.
Last night is a good example of this. I actually had a good evening and got the kitchen quite clean. I was looking forward to a restful night and a good day with the kids not hampered by the pressure of looming chores over my head. No sooner had my head hit the pillow than my daughter started chattering away in her room. Wide awake.
Did I mention I am a light sleeper?
Long story short, I was not back in bed until 3:30am and Chris was dealing with our son until around the same time. And then they slept late. A whopping 7:30am. Seriously.
How in the world does one get through the day on little sleep when one is susceptible to sleep deprivation issues in the first place? I thought I’d toss out some ideas and I’d love to hear some ideas from other women. I need them, too!
- Squeeze in a nap when baby or children have naptimes.
- Lay on the floor and rest, eyes open, while baby or children are playing next to you.
- Do not feel the need to be supermom and get everything done you had planned on. Take it easy and be flexible with your plans.
- Caffeine? (This is not an option for me personally because it contributes to migraine issues I have.)
- Eat well…not just that day(s) of little sleep. Lots of sugary foods can make your body crash. Those ups and downs are not fun.
- Count to 10, 100, 1000 – whatever it takes – if you are losing your cool. Take a deep breath before responding to children and/or fussy babies.
- Know its always ok to take a break by putting the children in their rooms or cribs for five minutes or so. They will cry, but they are fine. Take a few minutes to take a breath.
- I know this seems obvious, but go to bed early! Its so easy for me to use that time to get stuff done but it can wait.
Self-care & Healing
I have a new poll up on the main page of Out of the Valley. I am curious about the impact of the holidays on postpartum mood disorders. In the past, I have had more contact with hurting moms around the holidays. This is purely unscientific, I am fully aware!
In my last blog post, I discussed some coping techniques for getting through the Thanksgiving Holiday and this morning I posted an article on Out of the Valley expanding upon that theme to include the entire holiday season. I would love for everyone to answer the poll and then add some of your own ideas for coping here as a comment.
The previous poll was about how well the church supported women during postpartum stress. I’ll have a blog post up soon about that. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I am always here and available via email for support and prayer. tara (at) outofthevalley (dot) org.
Education & Research, Self-care & Healing
I know this is a tough time of year. Family invading, you want to hide. People asking too many questions, you want to ignore them. You’re not feeling very thankful during this season of Thanksgiving. I understand.
If you are going to visit family or friends, or having folks come to you, then it is a good idea to have a plan to handle stress. Here are some suggestions, many of which worked wonders for me:
- Define “your” space and make it your refuge. At home, if its your master bedroom, kindly ask that no one enter that room, keep the door the closed and know that if you need a moment – it is yours to retreat to. Away from home, do your best to do the same. If its a guest room, use that. If necessary, stay in a hotel. If its the back porch or a bench or taking a walk, do so.
- Take your favorite tea or hot chocolate with you. I do! I love it. Its like bringing a piece of home with me, something that is comfortable and relaxing. You can carry that idea through to other things – a pillow, blanket, etc.
- Bring a “quiet time bag.” Include your Bible, devotional book, novel, journal, puzzle book, and pen. Grab a few minutes here and there to relax your mind and spend time with Jesus.
- You do not have to answer questions you do not feel comfortable answering. Redirect the conversation in a lighthearted way – perhaps to a favorite meal or movie. Getting the other person to talk about themselves is usually a sure winner! If necessary, be very direct.
- Holiday gatherings are generally stressful events, even if subconsciously, for everyone. Keeping that in mind with a spoonful of grace will hopefully help!
- If necessary, call it a year that you need to stay home and take care of you and your family and baby. You, your health, and your family are much more important.
- If you are hosting a meal at your house, do not feel the need to play “super-chef” even if you did in past years. Make it a year to do something different – order the entire meal out and relax. We have done this often and its delicious, relaxing, and we have so much less clean-up and more time to spend with each other. Less stress! Check local restaurants, grocery stores, and even Boston Market for a meal. (Boston Market was delicious!)
Self-care & Healing