Let me tell you a secret.
I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a seasonal depressive disorder often associated with the lack of light during the winter season. My primary symptoms are withdrawal from relationships, sleeplessness, and difficulty concentrating on tasks, but sometimes anger or crying spurts occur.
Since my yearly battle with SAD is similar to mild postpartum depression, I thought I would share some tips for coping with the blues.
- Acknowledge your Feelings. Telling a trusted friend or your husband that you’re struggling to cope is always the first step.New motherhood comes with a brand new identity along with a wailing adorable task master. This is often a recipe for moms to withdrawal from relationships or feeling totally overwhelmed. Speaking to someone about your feelings is the first step to moving toward new growth whether you’re feeling some baby blues or dealing with SAD or another mood disorder.
- Talk to your Doctor. Mental health issues are full of stigma. If I had a wound that wouldn’t heal properly, I would be quick to ask my doctor for help. Feeling mentally unwell should produce the same response.Your doctor can help you see if what you’re feeling is within the range of normal or might need the extra help of counseling or medication.
- Exercise.I know when you’re feeling down, that the last thing you feel like doing is leaving the house to exercise. But just a 5 minute walk around the block will get you some sunshine and get those feel good endorphin moving through your body. After a walk, I can concentrate on tasks that were overwhelming me (like writing a blog post!). Even doing just a few wall sits, squats, or wall push ups makes a huge difference in mood.
- Fuel your body. SAD makes me crave carbs. I have eaten entire bags of chocolate chips while editing client sessions. The worst part of this carb binge isn’t the weight gain, but the sugar crash when I’m done eating. I actually feel way worse about 20 minutes after eating all that sugar. Sugar, like alcohol, has a depressive effect on the body.Eating healthy as a new mom or a mom-entrepreneur is often a challenge. But it’s worth it!One of the easiest ways to get in good food is to make smoothies for snacks or lunch. Tossing half an avocado, spinach, bananas, unsweetened almond milk, a scoop of protein powder (or nut butter), and cocoa powder in the blender makes me think I’m having a chocolate milkshake, but fuels my body in a way that a chocolate milkshake cannot!
- Take time to do something you love.
SAD steals my energy and my ability to focus on what others are saying. Similarly new motherhood can steal your sleep, your time to yourself, and clearly the ability to maintain relationships outside of the mother/baby dyad.However, doing something you love refuels your soul. Whether that’s reading just a couple pages of a book, journaling, painting your nails, going out with friends, having coffee out with your husband, or just taking a shower alone, make sure you spend a few minutes a day doing something you love.
- Stop Expecting Perfection from Yourself (and others).
News flash: Nobody is perfect and nobody does everything the way you want it done.
You and I are not going to please everyone. Our children will cry. We will have broccoli in our teeth at an event. Our husbands will load the dishwasher wrong or forget to clean behind baby’s ears at bath time. You’ll have to ask another mom to borrow a diaper. You’ll yell at your kids and your husband (even in public). You’ll do things you swore you’d never do before your baby is born.Focus on just three things: loving your people well, offering forgiveness when others fail you, and saying “I’m sorry.” when you fail. Eventually the baby will stop crying. You’re not the first to have broccoli in your teeth at an event. Your husband loaded the dishwasher or gave the baby a bath (wooohooooo!!!) even if he didn’t do it the way you prefer. The mom you borrowed the diaper from will feel empowered to ask another mom for a diaper when she forgets her bag. And you get to model to your kids and husband the power of saying “I’m sorry” for yelling or expecting perfection.Make like Elsa and “Let it Go.” (Your welcome for getting that song stuck in your head…. again.)
Tell me in the comments what tips you have for fighting the blues!
I’d love to learn something new from you!