Everyone who has a child knows that parenting is full of ups and downs. When you combine that with Postnatal Depression the downs can be extremely disheartening and very hard to pull yourself out of.
It can be especially difficult when things have been going well for a while and you think – I’ve got this, then you trip and fall into the black-hole of depression again. It can feel as though you are going backwards, taking steps back in your recovery and this can be a blow to your confidence.
In order to tackle this, I’ve written 10 selfcare tips that you can try when you’re feeling low. Hopefully they might help you to see the light again.
1. Be kind to yourself
Take a minute to think about how you would comfort a friend if they were feeling how are. Try and give yourself some encouragement and compassion – if you’re interested in learning more on this, then check out my post on Self Compassion.
2. Eat well
We all know that we have to fuel our body well to have good health. Our mind also benefits from eating well. To help keep your brain fit, try to include some omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, these can be found in oily fish like sardines and salmon, as well as flaxseed and walnuts. Avocados also boast omega-3s. Avocado is a really easy food to use in nearly any sandwich, as well as dips, smoothies and even desserts. It’s also a great one to share with your children.
Blueberries are another great addition to any diet, being antioxidant-rich. I find having smoothies for breakfast is a great way to include a variety of fruit and vegetables in a quick and easy way.
3. Take energy back for you…
In the form of ‘me time’. It’s easy to get caught up in taking care of your children. It’s an extremely demanding job. However, sometimes it is necessary to take some time for yourself to recuperate. I’ve written a post with more detail here – Me Time.
4. Listen to music
The benefit of music can’t be denied, to really engage with it I’d suggest using headphones if you can. I find there are two ways to use music when you are feeling low. The first is to cheer you up, music that is upbeat, or has a fast tempo can do this. Some good examples to get you going are:
- Mr. Brightside by The Killers
- Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
- Every Time We Touch by Cascada
- Hot N Cold by Katy Perry
- Walkin’ On Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves
- I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters
- Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra
The second way music can work is to help you work through your emotions. Some songs are great at helping you express emotions that are locked up and you cannot reveal alone. If you cry, that is okay – feeling is healing. Songs that might help you work through some emotions are:
- Hometown Glory by Adele
- I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
- Back to Black by Amy Winehouse
- Fix You by Coldplay
- May It Be by Enya
- Stay With Me by Sam Smith
5. Go for a walk
When you are depressed it can feel like a struggle to move but you might be surprised with how you feel afterwards. Get your endorphins (the ‘feel good’ chemicals) going by getting out for a walk or a swim. It can help lift your mood and also counteract insomnia. Several trials have shown that regular exercise of moderate intensity can be an effective treatment by itself for mild to moderate depression.
6. Get out in nature
The outdoors is a wonderful place to relax and open your mind. Take some time to have a look around and really take in nature. Maybe take your child outdoors and show them the flowers, trees and leaves. Try to have the curiosity of a child as you look at nature’s intricacy – you could be surprised at what you’ve been missing.
7. Practice Mindfulness
I find both meditation and art therapy really good for getting back a sense of calm. I practice a daily creative ritual of drawing a mandala. It’s a really great way to wind down after a hard day and produce something that is beautiful. If you’d like to learn how to do this, I’ve created a tutorial here.
Meditation is a wonderful practice and can be a lifesaver when you are stuck in your head full of thoughts. It does take practice but it’s so worthwhile. I use two apps with guided meditations to help me reach a state of calm – Headspace and Mind the Bump, which is an app specifically designed for the perinatal period. There are also countless videos on YouTube, which have various subjects. For example, this is a great one to do before bed – Floating Amongst the Stars.
8. Make a list of good things
This is a good way to try and look at the positives in your live and ground yourself back into the moment. Take some time out to write a list of everything you are grateful for. It could be the smallest thing, for example – having a shower or it could be more meaningful things such as, having a child or having the ability to walk. There is always alot of good in your life, depression can blind you to it, try and open up to what you have to be positive about.
9. Look at your baby
Babies are cute, there’s no denying it. Take a moment to really look at your child and take in their beauty. If they are asleep or you are away from them, then have a look at some old photos. It can help remind you of the good positive times you have had with them.
10. Read a letter to yourself
This last one requires a little preparation. When you are having a good day, take some time to write yourself a letter. Think about what you’d like to hear when you’re feeling down and give yourself some encouragement. If you’d like to see an example of one I’ve done, it can be found here – Open Letter to Myself.
Remember, you are always moving forwards, bad days will come and go but they can never undo all the work you have been doing.