We spend months preparing for the holidays, and then they’re over in a day or two, leaving us feeling sad and empty.
The post holiday blues is a common experience for many people. Once the festivities of the holiday season are done, what else is there to look forward to? If you live in a cold climate like me, the months of January and February are often the coldest and dreariest, making us want to stay in and hibernate.
Instead, try one of these five activities to help get rid of the common post holiday blues.
Take a Vacation
Obviously one of the best ways to get away from the harsh winter is to escape somewhere hot. January boasts some of the best deals on getaways, specifically targeted at those suffering from a case of the post holiday blues. Spending a few days at an all inclusive resort can do wonders for your mental health.
But a post holiday vacation is not practical nor affordable for everyone. You can still take advantage of the benefits of a vacation, though. Book a hotel room for a weekend or go on a road trip if the weather’s not too bad. Visit a local ski hill or try an ice fishing expedition. Having some weekend activities planned for January and February can help tackle the post holiday blues by giving you something else to look forward to.
Plan a Hygge Weekend or Party
Or a stay-cation, if you will. If going out in the winter just isn’t your thing, then consider planning a hygge weekend instead. If you’re not familiar with hygge, it’s the Danish way of living that includes lots of warmth, coziness and indulgence (click here to read all about it).
You can cuddle up by the fireplace with the family and drink hot chocolate. Or if you’re up for it, plan a hygge party! Invite all your family and friends over for a relaxing night of cake and laughter. Everyone can wear their comfiest pajamas and cozy socks. You can all sit around playing board games and binge eating sweets. What better way for you and all your loved ones to recover from the holidays together?
Try an Outdoor Spa Experience
Winter is the perfect time for an outdoor spa day. Sitting in a hot tub can get really hot, really quickly… unless you’re sitting outside in the cold. There are special thermotherapy spas popping up in colder climates now, inspired by the Scandinavian way of life. These often include a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities and they are complete bliss on colder days.
Or look into visiting a hot spring resort. If you don’t live near one, check if any local gyms, clubs or hotels offer outdoor pools or spas. Saunas are another great option for an outdoor spa experience and are quite popular in the winter.
If you can’t locate an outdoor spa near to you, then just head to your regular spa. Any kind of pampering and self care will help you beat those post holiday blues and improve your overall mental health.
Deep Clean Your Home
I know this one sounds more like a chore. But staying distracted and keeping busy is a great way to avoid symptoms of depression and anxiety. Over the holidays, you’ve likely acquired a whole bunch of new stuff. That makes the months after the holidays the perfect time to purge all of your old stuff.
Start with one room a day (or week) and go through all the junk that’s been shoved into closets and into drawers. Donate or sell whatever you can and throw out the rest. By the time spring comes around, you’ll have a nice clean home on the inside, so you can focus just on the outside.
Minimizing your junk and living in a clean home is great for your mental health. Plus, it will give you a real sense of purpose and discourage you from feeling lazy and unproductive all winter long.
Make a Big Change
New year, new you right? While I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, making a drastic change or trying something new in your life can definitely get rid of the post holiday blues. Don’t focus on how sad you are that the holidays are over, look towards the future instead.
January is a great time for planning. Print off our free 2020 calendar and start penciling in all your important dates. See where you can make some changes to your routine or schedule. Or perhaps the change could be something physical, like changing your hair color or style, makeup routine or getting into shape.
Consider changing something in your environment as well. You could paint your walls, change up your furniture or even get a new car. Make some new friends, sign up for a class or start a new hobby. Something new or different for the New Year will make you feel proud and excited for what’s ahead.
Daylight savings time can be a mother’s worst nightmare.
On the first Sunday in November, daylight savings time officially ends, meaning we will gain back the extra hour we lost in the spring. This all sounds well and good for most people (especially when that day happens to fall on November 1st and everyone gets to party for an extra hour on Halloween night). But if you have little ones on a strict bedtime schedule, or if your mental health suffers from changes in your routine or sleep pattern, it can be a difficult time of the year to manage.
Here are a few tips on how to protect your sleep when daylight savings time ends.
Yes, it’s just an hour. For many people, it doesn’t even make a difference in their lives. But for young children, it can equal a very early morning and some trouble adjusting to the change for a few days, if not longer. This can disrupt mom’s sleep patterns as well, which is bad news if she suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety. Sleep deprivation can be a big trigger for those suffering from a mental health disorder.
If you’re worried about your sleep being disrupted, then try to prepare yourself ahead of time. Don’t over-schedule yourself the weekend that daylight savings time ends and try to get in some extra rest. If you’re concerned about your child’s sleeping habits, then consider consulting with a baby sleep training expert for advice.
Go to Bed Early
Technically the time changes at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, but it’s a common practice to change all the clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night. If you’re normally in bed at 10 p.m., the end of daylight savings time means that you’d be going to bed at 9 p.m. instead.
While it might sound ridiculously early to you, keep in mind that you’ll be waking up an hour earlier as well. If you’re normally awake at 6 a.m., then the idea of getting out of bed at 5 a.m. might be unbearable. So while it’s tempting to stay up late and take advantage of the extra time, it’s often better to save it for the morning and sleep in for an hour instead.
Take the Weekend Off
Thankfully, daylight savings time ends on a weekend so you don’t need to worry about school or work schedules. If you can, try to limit any scheduled or time-constricted activities. It’s a great time to plan a cozy hygge weekend or a family movie marathon where you’re sure to lose track of time anyway. And who knows, maybe planning a relaxing weekend when the time changes could become a favorite family tradition!
Make the Change Gradually
There is no rule that says the hour has to be changed back all at once. One way to make the end of daylight savings time less drastic is to change the clocks in smaller increments throughout the weekend. Start by changing your clocks back in 15 minute intervals on Saturday morning and evening and then again on Sunday. The smaller the change, the less your body and mind will notice it.
Change the Clocks in the Middle of the Afternoon
Another alternative to help protect your sleep is to change the clocks back one hour in the middle of the afternoon instead of at bedtime. This is a great option, especially for children, because the afternoon hours can usually slip by quickly when we’re busy having fun. Gaining an extra hour of playtime or while watching a movie is a great way to get the most out of your day. This will also ensure less disruption to your child’s bedtime routine and help you sleep better as well.
Try to Embrace it
When it comes to daylight savings time, it’s best to just not make a big deal out of it. Worrying or focusing too much on it can cause a lot of disruption. It can cause anxiety for moms who need every bit of undisturbed sleep they can get. Knowing that daylight savings time is ending can also contribute to symptoms of depression, including seasonal affective disorder. Instead of worrying about it, try to be mindful of the time change. Pay close attention to the changes in nature and embrace the opportunity to adjust your routine for the winter season.
Prior to having children or dealing with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, you probably never thought much about daylight savings time other than being on time for something important. With most smartphones automatically updating the time, you may even completely forget about it until you wake up Sunday morning confused about what time it REALLY is. Often, we don’t experience the repercussions of the time change until after the fact. So protect your sleep this season and be ready for it!
I recently collaborated with Katya and Cait, the founders of The Fragile Club. One thing we have in common is our shared passion for raising mental health awareness. We recognize that in order to do that, we need to encourage the conversation around mental illness. The more people who are brave enough to speak up about what they are battling, the less stigmatized it will be.
On both our sites, those suffering from mental illness are invited to speak up and share their stories, no matter how scary it might be. The Fragile Club also offers a line of merchandise, with profits going towards mental health organizations around the world. These simple pieces, including clothing, hats and even an adorable fanny pack, are branded with a single word “fragile.”
I took the opportunity to interview these two incredible women and find out more about what it means to be part of The Fragile Club.
1. What is the Fragile Club?
Katya:The Fragile Club, first of all, is a community. The place where we share our stories and support each other.
Cait:The Fragile Club is a socially conscious brand created to bring awareness to mental health. For every item sold we donate the profits to one of our partnered Mental Health Organizations. We know that everyone has their own powerful story that can impact individuals and we encourage sharing as a core way to empower and support.
2. In what ways does the Fragile Club help raise awareness for mental health?
Katya:We are building a network of people with social influence (celebrities and social media influencers) who share their experiences dealing with mental health-related problems in order to show that it is okay to be open and talk about it. Also, we donate part of the profit from sold products to Mental Health organizations around the world.
Cait:Through our ambassadors, collaborators, partners and community we aim to bring mental health into normal conversation. And it’s through sharing our individual stories that we can raise impactful awareness.
3. How do you two know each other?
Katya:We both work remotely in the area of digital marketing and advertising. We met not too long ago through friends in common during our travels in South-East Asia and stayed in touch since then. We have a lot in common – modelling, that we both do, remote work, travel, etc. Cait helped me with the content for a few projects and during one of the brainstorming sessions, the idea of The Fragile Club was born.
Cait:As Katya explains, we both have lots of experience working remotely and we met via mutual friends during our travels in South-East Asia and have stayed in touch since then. The first time we worked together I was creating content for some of Katya’s projects and we really enjoyed working together.
4. Aside from the Fragile Club, what kinds of things are you interested in?
Katya:As a full-time job, I do digital marketing and advertising and I’m absolutely loving it! Besides that, I’m interested in fitness, art and travels.
Cait:Both Katya and myself have been in the modeling industry. I love fitness, health, personal growth and content creation.
5. What inspired you to start the Fragile Club?
Katya:As an entrepreneur, I always wanted to create something that would bring some value to society. As I personally have experience with depression and anxiety, I want to support people who deal with mental health-related problems.
Cait:Katya and I both are very passionate about creating positive change and our biggest conversation has been around mental health. We wanted to create something in the mental health space and the Fragile Club fell into place.
6. Tell us more about your personal experiences with mental illness.
Katya:I had depression, hypochondria and anxiety. After my first thought that suicide isn’t a really bad idea, I went to the psychiatrist on the same day. Had to go through the therapy and course of antidepressants to get to the point where I am now. I lived with it over 3 years without understanding what’s wrong with me (most of the time I was thinking that I have some kind of disease and I’m dying). I’m happy it’s over.
Cait:My sister’s story has had a huge impact on me and is a big reason why I care so much about Fragile. She grew up a middle child of 4 girls and always felt like the underdog in our religious family. Along with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this lead to her drinking and getting into drugs by the age of 12, pregnant by the time she was 16, and leaving home at 17. Years later, when she was 22, my family learned that she had become addicted to heroin two years earlier. This was devastating to my whole family. My mom has been amazing in helping her rehabilitate and she’s been safely on methadone for the past few years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over my little sister and how much I just want her to know she is loved and she doesn’t have to feel so alone and outcasted. I want anyone who’s felt the way she has to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and for the people around them to know how to help the people they love.
Personally, I’ve been through periods of depression, anxiety, self-hatred and multiple mental breakdowns. I’ve had anemia and endometriosis which both has fed periods of depression. And I know what it feels like to feel like no one supports you and you don’t know what to do.
7. What does being “fragile” mean to you?
Being fragile means that you are human. We want to highlight that everyone around us has gone through situations that we can’t understand, much less judge. Being fragile means that you accept your pain and become stronger by owning it. It also means that we need to remember that the person next to you has struggles and pain of their own, no matter who they are.
8. What do you feel is the biggest barrier to proper mental health care?
There are many barriers, but the biggest we believe is the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why we care so much about our mission to raise awareness and funds for mental health. We need both community and government to support each other as well as the funds to bring about proper treatment and research.
9. What do you hope to achieve in the future with the Fragile Club?
We want to bring this important issue to the forefront of conversation in society and culture. That is our biggest hope and dream.
10. How can others become involved in your mission?
Simply by making a single purchase donates funds to mental health organizations we’ve vetted and believe in their work. By someone wearing Fragile it helps to bring mental health to conversation in their daily life.
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
By removing judgement, we have room support and encourage each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and that includes understanding and supporting each other in our darkest moments.
For more information about The Fragile Club, to share your story on their site or to make a purchase and support mental health initiatives around the world, please visit http://fragileclub.com.
Life has a habit of surprising us and even when things are floating along nicely, there’s always a chance of a bolt from the blue upsetting our mental health. The unpredictability of life is what makes our existence precious and exciting, but not knowing what the future holds can also trigger anxiety. When a curveball does come out of nowhere, how do you react?
Many of us switch to autopilot, but our responses and instincts aren’t always beneficial for our mental health and well being. If you’re going through a tough time, here’s a guide to some of the most common causes of stress and distress and some tips to help you put your mental health first.
The relationships we have with other people can make or break us. Being with a single person or having a group of friends can make us feel ecstatically happy, but there’s also a risk of coming into contact with people who don’t have a positive influence. At some point, the majority of people will decide to break up with a partner or let a friendship slip away because that relationship isn’t making them happy.
Spending time with friends and your partner should lift you up, make you feel safe, secure, content and give you hope for the future. If you question your own worth at any point, feel like you can’t be yourself around another person or wake up every morning wondering if you’re making the right decision, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationships.
If you’ve been with a partner for a long time, you’re married or you have children together, it can be incredibly tough to make the decision to separate. You probably envisioned spending the rest of your lives together and the thought of being alone is scary.
If you have decided to break up with a long-term partner, and there are legalities involved, make sure you get the advice and support you need from a legal firm that specializes in family law. It’s very common to have questions about the processes that are involved. An experienced legal team will fight in your corner and give you the information you need to understand what the next few months will entail and what rights you have.
In addition to seeking professional advice, it’s also critical to take advantage of emotional support. At this time, you might be hurting and feeling very low. Reach out to close friends and family members, talk to a therapist or a charity helpline if you’d rather speak to somebody you don’t know. Remember to take good care of yourself. Spend time with people you trust that make you feel good about yourself. There is no universal guide to healing after a breakup, so don’t put pressure on yourself or compare yourself to others.
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult hurdles human beings have to overcome. We spend our lives building families and groups of friends and to lose somebody that you love can cause immeasurable pain. One important thing to remember when you’re dealing with bereavement is that everyone is different. People cope with grief in very different ways and there is no cookie-cutter mold that you have to fit into.
In the early days, it’s common to feel numb and to try and fill your time, often doing tasks that really don’t need to be done. Most of us like to try and keep busy purely so that our minds aren’t occupied by thoughts of that person and feelings of sadness and despair.
When you feel able to open up, talking is hugely beneficial. It can be dangerous to keep your emotions bottled up. Don’t be afraid to cry and don’t feel that you have to be strong for others. You might not want to sob in front of your kids, but make sure you have an outlet for your feelings. If this means going to the bathroom for 5 minutes to take time out or making a call to a friend so that you can let it all out, this is what you should do.
They say that time is a healer and to some extent, it is. The problem is that time can also make others forget. When you first lose a loved one, you may find that you’re inundated with flowers, cards, and messages. As time passes, the texts and calls to see how you are dry up as people get on with their lives. This can be very difficult to take.
To help you cope and to make the grieving process more tolerable, don’t be afraid to lean on others and to seek advice. Many people find it helpful to go to group support sessions and to talk to a counselor about their feelings. You might also find that creative activities enable you to express your emotions. Exercise, especially activities that are designed to clear your mind and promote relaxation like yoga, help you sleep if you’re struggling with insomnia.
Unemployment and money worries
If you lose your job or you’re worried about debt, money problems can consume you and contribute to intense anxiety. If you’re trying to raise kids, run a household and keep a roof over your head, it can be very difficult to tackle debt, especially if you’ve lost your job. If money worries are getting you down, and you’re facing an uncertain future, for which you weren’t prepared, there is help out there.
Often, when bad news comes out of the blue, the easiest path to take is to bury your head in the sand and hope that everything blows over. In reality, the longer you ignore debt, the more serious the situation becomes. If you’re unemployed, money issues may be temporary, and finding another job could provide a solution.
If the scenario is more grave, the sooner you seek professional advice, the better. You don’t want to be panicking every time your phone rings or there’s a knock at the door. If you’re chasing your tail and can’t pay your bills, a financial adviser or a debt charity can help you out. There are paths you can take and there may be simple solutions that could save you a huge amount of stress.
Anxiety can really take its toll on your physical health, as well as your mental wellbeing. If you are anxious all the time, and you’re finding it tough to relax and stay calm, there are self-help techniques you can try. It’s also beneficial to talk about how you feel and to ask for help. Often, we make assumptions that people won’t want to be burdened by our issues but that’s usually not the case. You might find that your family and friends are more than willing to support you.
Life is never plain sailing, and most of us have to deal with challenges and obstacles that seem to come from nowhere. If you’re going through a tough time your health might suffer, and this is why it’s crucial to try and look after yourself as best you can. Focus on getting through each day, maintain a positive mindset and accept that some days will be harder than others.
Ecotherapy is the act of using the healing benefits of nature to improve our mental health.
Sometimes referred to “nature therapy” or “green therapy,”ecotherapy has several amazing benefits for moms. In our modern, industrialized world, we spend so much more time indoors than we do outside in nature, and it’s starting to have a tangible effect on our mental health.
Ecotherapy is a broad term used to describe all kinds of outdoor activities that have health benefits. These can include everything from the simple act of sitting outdoors in the sunshine to hiking and mountain climbing. With benefits for the entire family, it’s a great way for moms to spend time with the kids as well as take care of themselves.
Here are some ways that moms can benefit from some of the various forms of ecotherapy.
1. Fresh Air
The obvious benefit of getting outdoors is simply to enjoy the fresh air. Inhaling fresh air, as opposed to the circulated, stale indoor air, is a great way to clear our minds and bodies. A little bit of fresh air everyday can help ward off headaches and congestion, and is great for our overall health. For those who live in crowded, busy cities, it’s worth it to get out to the country side every once in a while for a decent dose of fresh air. It’s something that far too many of us take for granted.
Warm sunshine is another building block of ecotherapy. Exposure to sun can top off our vitamin D levels, which is super important for maintaining our serotonin levels and avoiding seasonal affective disorder. Vitamin D is also important in calcium absorption, can lower your blood pressure and even help you lose weight! But make sure to protect your skin while outside, the sun’s power is both great and dangerous.
3. Physical Activity
Ecotherapy works because being outdoors has a way of inspiring us to explore, run and play. When it’s a beautiful day out, we don’t want to waste it by staying inside watching television. Just walking outdoors for an hour each day is enough to boost our moods and help us to live healthier lives. Often, the elements of nature can encourage us to take up more extreme forms of physical activity, such as hiking, biking, swimming or mountain climbing. The opportunities to get our heart pumping and work up a sweat while out in nature are endless.
4. Stimulates The Senses
It’s rare to find a form of therapy that can stimulate all of our senses at once. But ecotherapy does just that. When we’re out in nature, we feel the sun’s warmth, the delicate tickle of green grass on our toes or a light breeze against our skin. We smell the fresh air, flowers, earth and the wood of the trees. We hear birds singing, leaves rustling in the wind and the gentle trickling of water. We see flowers and landscapes in all different colors and shapes. We taste sweet berries or fruit freshly picked from the trees. Simply being outdoors is a feast for the senses.
5. Spending Time With Animals
Ecotherapy also includes spending time with animals and experiencing the benefits of some of nature’s greatest gifts.Spending time with animals can help to reduce our stress levels and boost our moods. You don’t need to have your own pet in order to get the benefits of pet therapy. A visit to a farm, petting zoo, animal shelter or even just some simple bird watching is like an instant mood booster without all the responsibility of raising your own pet.
6. Talking in Nature
Talking about feelings can be difficult for a lot of people. Especially so for moms battling a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder such as postpartum depression. Many people find it comforting to talk while going for a walk outdoors. The distraction of the sights and sounds can ease tension or awkward silence. The physical act of walking while talking can actually encourage the mind to open up even more, because it’s now being asked to multitask and thus feels less inhibited. So the next time you have something important to discuss with someone – try inviting them on a stroll through the park.
7. Digging in the Dirt
Contrary to popular belief, dirt is not dirty. Pure, rich soil from the earth is actually really good for you! By digging your bare hands (or feet) into the dirt, you can absorb the good bacteria known as Mycobacterium vaccae which is a natural antidepressant and can improve your overall health and immune system. Ecotherapy is all about ditching the gardening gloves and flip flops and becoming one with the dirt!
Since you’re already barefoot and ankle deep in dirt, you might as well plant a garden while you’re at it. There are so many health benefits of gardening that it’s the most popular form of ecotherapy. In addition the health benefits you get directly from the soil, caring for a garden is a great way to nurture your motherly instincts. Planting seeds and watching them grow into full grown plants will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
9. Eat a Healthier Diet
We would all love to eat farm fresh fruit and vegetables everyday, but it’s a sad fact that healthier food often tends to cost more at the local grocery store. Instead, grow healthy fruit and vegetables in your own garden. Not only will it be organic, but it will be free! A healthy diet is especially important for moms battling a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, as well as for children of all ages. Everyone in the family will be much more inclined to eat food that they’ve grown themselves.
10. Cultivate Healing Herbs
In addition to healthy fruit and vegetables, you can also grow certain herbs that offer medicinal benefits. Lavender, Chamomile and Valerian are popular ones, especially to help with sleep and reduce stress. Peppermint, rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil are great for cooking but their oils have several healing benefits as well. St. John’s Wort, known for it’s natural antidepressant properties, can easily be grown in any herb garden. There are so many different herbs available that you can grow easily and always have on hand when you need them.
11. Boosts Confidence
Growing your own plants from seedlings is a real confidence booster. In a world where parenting is so complicated and full of different opinions and methods – gardening takes you back to the beginning. Plants don’t need complicated methods – they need soil, water and sunlight to thrive. Being able to produce fruit or flowers from a tiny seed can give you a sense of pride and confidence in yourself.
12. Sleep Better
When you combine all of the fresh air, sunshine and physical activity, it adds up to one thing – a better night’s sleep! This holds true for both moms and babies. Ecotherapy is an excellent course of treatment for those with insomnia as it reduces the common culprits: stress, anxiety and depression. Try taking a nap outdoors, in a hammock or on a blanket in the grass. Between the warm sun, light breeze and bird songs you’re sure to feel relaxed. Who needs a white noise machine with “nature sounds” when you can get the live version in your own backyard?
Spending time alone in nature is incredibly peaceful, but ecotherapy can also be done as a community. Community gardens, stroller walking groups at the park or even yoga on the beach are all great forms of ecotherapy that can help to encourage social skills. Once you find an activity that you enjoy doing outdoors, reach out to see if others want to join you or if there is already a group of like-minded people who gather regularly. Being outdoors increases the probability that you will encounter and socialize with others in your community, which is great for your mental health.
14. An Outlet for Anger
Ecotherapy can also help with anger management issues. Try bushwhacking some hedges when you’re feeling frustrated and full of rage. Kick some rocks or punch a tree – I promise, they can handle it. Sitting alone in nature is also a great place to find peace. Meditate, even speak out loud to the plants, insects, animals and trees. They make great listeners and they won’t judge you or tell your secrets. It might sound silly, but saying something out loud, regardless of who is listening or not, is a lot different than simply thinking about it.
15. Reduces Anxiety
A major cause of anxiety for many people is the thought of death, illness or harm. Spending time observing nature can give us a better appreciation of the life cycle and realize that everything happens for a reason. The old leaves fall off the trees to make way for new growth. Plants sprout from a single seed, produce their fruit, get old and wither. Their fruit grows several new plants and the cycle continues again. We see some plants lost to neighborhood rabbits, others to nature’s elements. And we realize that all life has a meaning and purpose.
16. Find Hope for the Future
Taking care of the earth, whether it’s in the form of gardening, raising animals or simply observing nature around you, is one way to remain hopeful. A mother suffering from postpartum depression, for example, may have trouble seeing the future beyond all of the darkness. Ecotherapy reminds us all that life, like nature, continues despite bad weather, cold, darkness and drought. Even when things seem at their worst, the sun will come out again and all will be well.
The month of March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.
I am one of the millions of women in the world who has endometriosis. A year and a half ago, I had a hysterectomy. I wasn’t given much of a choice in the matter due to the fact that I had stage 4 endometriosis as well as adenomyosis of the uterus. Aside from one ovary, all of my reproductive organs were removed via an open abdominal incision. The endometrial tissue that was growing on the inside of my pelvis, intestines, bladder and bowel was scraped and burned off with the hopes of it never returning.
Following the hysterectomy, I was finally able to experience freedom from the pain of endometriosis that had plagued me for years.
The recovery period following my hysterectomy was one of the toughest struggles I have ever experienced. The surgery was invasive and there were complications. Worst of all, neither my doctor nor I predicted that the outcome would be nearly as bad as it was. We were blindsided with a “worst case scenario.” Being unprepared for a hysterectomy made the recovery difficult, both physically and emotionally.
In The Hospital
I gripped my morphine drip with an iron fist. I don’t remember much in those first 48 hours, aside from getting the bad news. Since I did not go into the hospital on that Friday morning expecting to come out of it with a hysterectomy and a 5 day hospital stay, I was not in the least bit prepared. I hadn’t packed a change of clothes, a toothbrush or a phone charger. Even though my husband did his best to bring me what I needed, the loss of control made me feel anxious and on edge the entire time.
I had lost a lot of blood during the surgery, but I wasn’t given a transfusion until three days later. Perhaps it was because they wanted to see if I would recover without one, which I didn’t. I was weak, dizzy and my breathing was even faint due to a lack of oxygen in my blood. At night, I would wake up gasping for air. After the blood transfusion I began to feel a lot better.
They finally removed the catheter but peeing was next to impossible. A tiny trickle came out at best. Getting out of bed to go the bathroom and back again took every ounce of strength I had. By that evening, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t make it to the bathroom or pee at all and the nurses had to use a straight catheter to empty my bladder. Two straight catheters later, they decided to put the Foley catheter back in for the night.
I was supposed to go home. I was somewhat mobile, able to pee on my own, made a bowel movement, had been off of morphine for 24 hours and even managed to take a shower. They replaced the morphine with T3’s for pain management instead. But later that afternoon, I began to feel dizzy, weak, nauseated and had shortness of breath in addition to a drop in blood pressure. Turns out I had a reaction to the codeine in the T3’s. I stayed an extra night to be on the safe side.
I finally got discharged from the hospital five days after my sudden hysterectomy. It was a two hour drive home and my husband and sister had padded the seat in our vehicle with pillows and blankets so that I would be as comfortable as possible. The nurses gave me a dose of painkillers right before wheeling me out and buckling me in. I vaguely remember the drive but it felt good to be home.
The First Two Weeks
At the hospital I was given Heparin shots regularly, but now I was supposed to get up out of bed and walk around as much as possible to avoid getting a blood clot. Since we live in a split-level house I was mostly contained to the upper level, so I did laps around my bed and in the hallway.
The only way I was truly comfortable was with a pillow under my head, one under each of my arms, and one across my stomach which I had to apply pressure to anytime I tried to use my abdominal muscles (which is so much more than you realize).
They give you a few stool softeners in the hospital but you’ll need them for far longer. Since my bowel, bladder and intestines had all been “scraped” of endometrial tissue and adhesions, they too, were swollen and trying to heal. Going to bathroom was something I dreaded having to do.
Going up and down stairs was a task that I didn’t even tackle until the second week. You really don’t realize how painful it can be on your incision to take a step up or down. It pulls on the stitches and stretches everything from the inside. One step at a time, with slow movements and regular breaks was the only way to manage them.
Six Weeks Later
My grandmother had come to stay with us during my recovery period and she was an absolute blessing. She took care of the kids, cooked, cleaned and delivered my favorite foods and tea to my bedside on a regular basis. She, too, had a hysterectomy in her 30’s and so she knew the pain I was in and refused to let me lift a single finger.
So when the six week mark hit, I expected all this hysterectomy business to be behind me. But I was still in pain. It hurt to bend over, and even just to stand for any length of time. It still hurt to go to the bathroom and I was exhausted all day long even though I wasn’t doing anything. I was apparently well enough to drive but moving my foot from the gas pedal to the brake caused pain by my incision.
By this time, my grandmother returned home and it was just me and the kids, resuming our normal, everyday activities. My husband hated to see me in pain and was anxious for me to recover. He asked me every single day if I was doing better. I wasn’t. I was struggling so hard to get back into things. But I told him “yes” so that he wouldn’t worry. It took at least eight weeks before the pain finally ceased. It still hurt to lift or bend, but for the majority of the day, I didn’t think about it.
The Next Year
The Absence of Blood
If there is one major benefit to a hysterectomy for a woman in her 30’s, it’s the end of periods for good. Prior to my hysterectomy, I bled for 6 weeks straight. I started to get a rash from having to wear pads and tampons continuously for so long. But in the last year since, I haven’t had to think about a single drop of blood.
Believe it or not, it was something that I needed to get used to. For 20 years, I’ve had to worry about waking up to blood stained sheets or dealing with bloody messes all over the bathroom. I still find myself checking the toilet paper after I wipe for traces of blood, but there’s never any there.
Yes, my lonely solo ovary still ovulated. At least, I believe that it did, but I no longer had a cervix or menstrual cycle to help me determine for sure. Further research confirmed that symptoms of ovulation post hysterectomy were:
Since that one ovary was still ovulating and producing estrogen, these symptoms did not stop post hysterectomy. But a sole ovary will only be able to hold down the fort for so long, so I have had to accept the fact that menopause will come to me sooner rather than later.
Many women express a decrease in their sex life following a hysterectomy. But not having to worry about getting pregnant actually made it all the more enticing for me. Even though I was still ovulating, I didn’t need to track my cycle or worry about what form of birth control to use. Although it took some time to accept the fact that I would never have another baby, part of me was relieved to never have to worry about any of the baby-making parts again.
A hysterectomy did provide me with a sense of freedom from endometriosis. For the first time, in a very long time, I enjoyed a summer with my family and was able to do all the things that I never could before. I could go camping or to the beach and not have to worry about changing a tampon in the middle of the woods. I had energy and was no longer in an obscene amount of pain so I could keep up with my kids for a change. I danced and swam and ran around and hiked and rode a bike. I was able to live my life, without pads or pills or a heat pack.
Among all my newfound freedom, however, there was a looming sense of emptiness. The lack of periods was a constant reminder of my traumatic experience. I hadn’t quite come to terms with the loss of my uterus yet. The more I thought about it, the more I felt empty, infertile and dried up. I would hear or see other women complain about having cramps and asking for a tampon and while I was glad those days were behind me, I also felt like less of a woman.
18 Month Update
A little over a month ago, I suddenly experienced a sharp pelvic pain. I followed up with a doctor who said it was likely caused by a small hernia along my incision and ordered me to rest for a few weeks. He also warned me that it could be caused by scar tissue and/or adhesions. If the pain persisted I was to come back for further tests.
Obviously, as a mother of three, trying to get enough rest was near impossible. I did my best to not bend, lift or strain myself but the pain was persistent. Within two weeks, it had spread across my entire pelvis and lower back… and it was all too familiar.
So now, 18 months post hysterectomy, I wait for more doctor’s appointments to find out if the endometriosis has returned.
Overall, my quality of life has improved since having the hysterectomy. At the time, it was traumatic and difficult to deal with. But even with the possibility of the endometriosis returning, I have no regrets. The hysterectomy gave me a chance at freedom, even if it was short lived.
With the variety of different online resources available to moms with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, how do you know which one is the right choice for you?
Thanks to the internet, moms suffering from a postpartum mood disorder can find help from the comfort of their own homes. From their cell phone or computer they can quickly and easily get in touch with someone who understands their situation and can offer advice and counseling. It might be a game changer for the mental health community but is online therapy the right choice for moms with postpartum depression or anxiety?
One company, eVideo Counselor, is looking to make sure of it. Their success in helping veterans with PTSD and substance abuse patients find hope again, has led them to reach out to the maternal mental health community. I had an opportunity to check out their services for myself and discovered just how beneficial their services can be for moms with postpartum depression.
Here are some tips to help you figure out if this is the right choice for you.
Finding The Right Therapist
Moms are nothing if not thorough. When we got pregnant, we made sure to find the right doctor to deliver our baby and the right pediatrician to take care of them. And by “right” I mean someone that we trusted, were comfortable with and could talk openly to. So it’s a no-brainer that we look for the same qualities in a therapist.
One of the biggest hesitations that moms have when it comes to online therapy is who their therapist will be. How can we trust this person on the other end of the screen who could be who-knows-where? Will it be awkward? Do they have real credentials? Is this all a scam?
Thankfully, eVideo Counselor has taken away that uncertainty by guaranteeing that their counselors are all well trained and licensed, undergo thorough background checks and are consistently monitored to ensure high-performance.
Most importantly, their video conferencing sessions make sure that you get the personalized face to face contact that a mom with postpartum depression so desperately needs. Your therapist will be able to read your body language and facial expressions in order to understand all the things that you want to say but just don’t know how to. At first, it might feel a little bit awkward. But eventually, video conferencing with your therapist will feel no different than meeting with them in person.
All eVideo Counselor sessions are also HIPAA compliant, which means you can speak freely and openly with your therapist and know that everything you say is private and confidential.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
Therapy does not work for everyone.And sometimes it does work, without you even realizing it. At my very first therapy session nearly 7 years ago, all I did was cry for the entire hour. I felt like I had wasted everyone’s time. Little did I know, having a safe place to let all my emotions go was exactly what I needed. It was part of the healing process and put me on the path to recovery.
One of the best things that eVideo Counselor offers is a system for measuring whether or not online therapy is working for you.
Prior to beginning online therapy with an eVideo Counselor, you’ll be given a short online questionnaire. This is similar to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) that is normally used by doctors and care providers in the first few weeks postpartum, but more detailed. You will also be asked the same questionnaire halfway through your therapy sessions and at the end, to see how your answers have changed.
There are additional and more extensive tests offered as well, but this system of metrics offers something that mothers with a postpartum mood disorder desperately need – validation.
The tests can determine whether you are suffering from clinical postpartum depression or anxiety, or a combination of the two. For mothers who aren’t 100% certain of their diagnosis, or who might still be in denial about what they’re feeling, this is a huge benefit and step in the right direction.
Your therapist will also go over your test results with you in detail. This additional step is unlike anything offered by a doctor’s office. Explaining why and how you answered the questions the way you did will give your therapist a better idea of how to care for you. They will also explain the significance of the questions and provide you with a plan on how to manage your symptoms.
Getting Your Doctor Involved
A legitimate company that wants to help you find healing and success will want to involve all aspects of your healthcare. Mental illness can cause a combination of physical and psychological symptoms. It’s important to have a team of medical professionals working together to provide you with the best care possible.
eVideo Counselor has already thought of that and makes it possible for your therapist to coordinate with your healthcare provider. This additional service means there won’t be any surprises when you go into your doctor’s office, and you won’t have to repeat everything over and over again.
This care co-ordination service is something that can help put an end to stories like Jessica Porten’s (a.k.a. the mom who had the cops called on her when she went to the hospital seeking help for postpartum depression). Having a licensed therapist vouch for your symptoms, plus have the test results to show for it, can make a difference in how you will be treated by the medical system.
In addition to the more common benefits of online therapy, such as convenient scheduling, anonymity and cost, eVideo Counselor offers extra perks that make therapy sessions more well-rounded. Because of this, they have lower no-show rates and higher success rates.
But the truth is, if you really want to know if online therapy is the right choice for you, you need to try it out yourself.
All it takes is a few short steps to get started with an eVideo Counselor right now. Click here to begin.
Our mental health struggles evolve with the seasons.
Throughout the year, our mental health will go through a series of highs and lows. Whether you’ve been struggling with seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety or another mental illness, you may find that it’s worse at different times throughout the year. In order to improve your mental health, you must consider all the different factors that each season brings.
Here are some ways that you can improve your mental health this year, broken down by months.
The first step to improve your mental health throughout the entire year is to start with a plan. You only have to plan out as much or as little of your year as you’re comfortable with. The simplest way to do this is with a calendar of the full year. You can choose a large desk calendar, a smaller personal calendar, an agenda or a bullet journal.
Start by filling in all your important dates. Write down everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, work schedules and appointments. If you have a vacation coming up this summer, write it on the calendar in great big bold letters! Don’t forget to schedule in your self-care time!
Then, make a list of goals you hope to achieve and put the dates you want to reach them on your calendar. Think outside the box when it comes to your goals, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small wins. For example, if insomnia is a problem for you, then set a goal to get one straight week of decent sleep. Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it every single day, and don’t forget to update it each month with new tasks and goals.
Having a plan in place, with attainable goals, will help you feel more organized and confident and ultimately improve your mental health.
Finally, the last of the winter months! Take some time this month to embrace the cold weather before it’s gone and enjoy all things warm and cozy. The Scandinavians refer to this practice as “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah).
The cold and darkness of the winter months can have a strong effect on our mental health, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder. But knowing that spring is right around the corner can bring a glimmer of hope and actually improve our mental health.
So celebrate the end of winter by getting in one last fire in the fireplace, drink all the hot cocoa and stay in bed as long as you want.
It’s time for some spring cleaning! But I’m not talking about dishes and laundry and other everyday tasks. One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to get rid of all the junk piling up in your living space. Decluttering your environment is a great way to declutter your mind as well.
Take a few tips from Marie Kondo and organize your spaces. Clean out your closets, drawers and cupboards. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a purpose or bring you joy. Sort through your paperwork and try to go digital wherever possible.
You don’t need to go full minimalist, but having clean, organized spaces can do wonders for your overall mental health.
With the arrival of spring, it’s the perfect time to try out your green thumb. Gardening is a form of ecotherapy that can help to improve your mental health. Escaping to your garden can be a form of self care, and there are many indoor plants that offer great health benefits.
Gardening is also an activity you can opt to do with the kids. Not only do they love playing in the dirt, but they can learn so much about the environment and where food comes from. If you have picky eaters, they’ll be more likely to eat vegetables that they’ve watched grow in their garden.
Plant some seeds this month and you’ll have something to occupy your mind all summer. Watching your seedlings grow will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment that will boost your mood and self confidence.
Warm weather is just around the corner, so it’s time to pamper that dry winter skin. Our skin and sense of touch has a big impact on our mental health. That’s why we can feel so overwhelmed and frazzled when we’ve been over-touched all day by our kids.
For months, our skin has been exposed to harsh temperatures, covered up and neglected. It’s time to book a spa day or massage and facial or even just plan some DIY pampering at home. Try out a new summer hairstyle, get a pedicure before breaking out the flip flops and switch to a lighter makeup routine for summer.
Focusing on your outward appearance can boost your confidence and improve your mental health.
Finally, the world is bright and green again. Spend as much time outdoors as possible this month. Your body has been deprived of Vitamin D, sunshine and fresh air for months, so get as much of it in as possible.
Go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride. Outdoor activities often feel less like exercise than going to the gym, and exercise is so important for maintaining your mental health.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your bikini body ready, either. Hang up a hammock, dust off your patio chairs or lie right on the grass and relax, completely guilt free. Even having your lunch or morning coffee outside will do wonders to improve your mental health.
You made it through the winter so sit back and enjoy the warmth and sunshine while you can.
Do you remember summer vacation as a kid? If you have fond memories of summer camp, beach days, camping trips or playing from sun up to sun down, then embrace that and be a kid again this month.
Plan some camping trips or beach days. Swim as often as you can, no matter what you look like in your bathing suit. Head to the splash parks and let loose. Take up a new sport that you’ve always to try. Channel your inner child and just have some good old-fashioned summer fun. Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures and maybe even put it together in an album to look at each year.
When you’re battling a mental illness, it’s probably been a long time since you had any real fun. Remembering a happy time from your childhood can help to improve your mental health in the simplest way.
This month, it’s time to focus on something that’s so important for our mental health, but often neglected. Our support system A.K.A. our friends. It’s not unusual to withdraw from society while battling a mental illness but what we don’t realize at the time is how important it is to have a strong support system around us. So focus on those friends this month.
Host a backyard BBQ or plan a group camping trip. Only invite the people you want to spend time with and don’t feel obligated to invite anyone who brings negativity into your life. If you’re not ready to be that social yet, then aim for a night out with a couple friends that you’ve been meaning to connect with.
Get out of your comfort zone a little bit this month, dust off your social skills and strengthen your social circle.
Back to school season means that everyone is learning something new, so why shouldn’t you? September is a great month to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.
Think of something that you’ve always wanted to do. You could start making sushi, learn calligraphy or take a photography class. The possibilities are truly endless. Check Pinterest, a local hobby store or your bucket list for more inspiration.
Distracting the mind with learning something new can improve your mental health by working your brain in a different way. Doing something artistic, such as painting, is a great way of expressing any bottled up emotions you may be harboring. And choosing something physical, like a new sport, can help to burn off any pent up energy.
Our minds love a challenge, so put your brain to work this month.
Just like that, the warmer weather is coming to an end. This can bring a sense of doom and gloom, even if you don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder. The thought of winter coming back again, plus the added stress of the holidays can have a severe effect on anyone’s mental health.
It’s a way to remind yourself that you are in control of your own happiness.
Prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you a selfish person. You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. With the holiday season coming up, your focus is going to shift to your family and friends and making the holidays memorable.
The most expensive part of the year is upon us. Now is a good time to have a look at your bills and budget and meet with a financial advisor. Fellow mom and Winnipeger, Sandi Huynen, knows what it’s like. Check out her website for more information.
This can be a stressful month for many different reasons: the financial strain, the stress of Christmas shopping, the long list of events, and anyone who has lost a loved one will miss them especially around the holidays.
One of the best ways to improve your mental health this month is to scale things down. There is a lot of pressure, especially on mothers, to make Christmas memorable. Mostly because, when we look back at our happiest memories – they are at Christmastime and we want that for our children as well.
But it’s not about the size of the tree or the gifts. It’s not about how many crafts or activities or advent calendars there are. The things we remember most about the holidays is getting together with everyone.
If you want to improve your mental health, scale back the holiday decorations and festivities and focus more on enjoying time with family.
It’s natural to feel like hibernating when cold weather comes along, but it can also be a symptom of something more complex.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, Seasonal Depression or the Winter Blues, can affect anyone during the winter months (and rarely, even in the summer). It’s a type of depression that is triggered by the change of the seasons and everything that comes with it. The lack of daylight, colder weather, and the increased amount of time spent indoors can all make a person feel depressed.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and seek treatment for them. Whether you suffer from another type of depression already or this is the only time you experience depressive symptoms, don’t ignore it or brush it off as something minor. Putting up with it for a few months may be a good enough treatment for a while, but depression can be unpredictable. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and while it might sound extreme, seasonal affective disorder can fall into that category.
Here are seven different ways that you can treat seasonal affective disorder this winter.
1. Exposure to Light
The most common treatment for seasonal affective disorder is light therapy. Since winter is associated with a reduced amount of daylight, it’s believed that this alone can cause seasonal affective disorder in otherwise healthy people. It also explains why it’s more common in those who live farthest away from the equator.
Regular exposure to bright light is a great way to help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. You can purchase one specifically designed for light therapy such as this pyramid shaped one, or this compact travel sized one. But you don’t need to purchase a special light to reap the benefits of light therapy. You can simply keep more lights on in the house and switch to LED daylight bulbs instead.
One symptom of seasonal affective disorder is a craving for carbohydrates and sugary, sweet foods which often results in weight gain. But choosing the right foods can actually help treat seasonal depression. Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables and beans will still satisfy the craving without the added sugar.
You should also try to eat several foods that contain tryptophan, which can increase serotonin levels. These include foods such as turkey, eggs, salmon, nuts and pineapple. You can also opt for a synthetic tryptophan supplement such as 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan.
Coffee is something that many people, myself included, depend on to get us through each day. But too much caffeine can actually stop our bodies from producing enough serotonin. So while a cup a day is acceptable, try to avoid relying on it too much.
If you’re struggling to eat right, then consider adding an all-natural supplement into your daily routine. Making a simple change to your overall nutrition can work wonders for your mood and energy levels.
The use of essential oils and aromatherapy is a popular one for treating depression including seasonal affective disorder. Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our brains. By using the right combinations of scents, we can feel happier and healthier with very little effort.
Aromatherapy can also help to treat symptoms of insomnia, which can reduce the production of serotonin. By incorporating essential oils into your everyday self-care routine, you can help keep symptoms of seasonal affective disorder under control.
4. Take A Vacation
For many regular sufferers of seasonal affective disorder, a winter vacation is an annual tradition. Having something to look forward to in the winter can help to ease depressive symptoms. Make sure to choose a location closer to the equator, so that you’re guaranteed plenty of sunshine.
But you don’t have to go somewhere hot and sunny to help treat seasonal affective disorder.A spa vacation is another way to beat the winter blues. You can find a spa close to home and still experience a get-away. Relaxing at a spa and getting massaged and pampered can give you the boost you need to make it through the winter. Check out Spa Finder for some awesome spa packages!
The only downside to a vacation is that it doesn’t last forever. The idea of coming back to the dreary winter after a vacation can cause seasonal affective disorder to hit an all time high. So make the most of your time away, take plenty of pictures and soak in enough sunshine to get you through to the spring.
5. Get Physical Indoors
In the summer time, we’re almost always outdoors doing something. But in winter, it becomes much more of a chore and can even be dangerous to spend an extended period of time outside. This sudden drop in our activity levels and the lack of fresh air can contribute to seasonal affective disorder.
Put some extra effort into getting physical indoors. You can join a gym or sign up for fitness classes. Swim laps at a local indoor pool or simply walk around the mall. Try out a dance class or start taking yoga. There are several things that you can do indoors when the weather isn’t great outside, it just takes a little bit more effort.
Being more (or just as) physical during the winter months as you are in the summer can help eliminate that sudden mood drop when the seasons change. Plus, exercise is a great way to boost endorphin levels, which is an important mood booster!
6. Practice Hygge
Hygge, pronounced ‘HOO-gah’ is a Danish way of life that’s recently become popular in Western culture. It basically refers to anything that makes you feel cozy and comfortable. It’s a simple concept that you’ve probably done before without even realizing. The Danish people have incorporated it into all aspects of their lifestyle and make it a priority, especially in the cooler months.
The nice thing about hygge is that there is no exact science to it. The main goal is to find things that make you feel comfortable, warm and happy and make them a priority in your life. Imagine sitting by a warm fire, cuddled up in a soft blanket with a hot cup of tea. That’s hygge. Or what about binge-watching Netflix and eating popcorn in your pajamas with your best friend? Also hygge.
Making time to practice hygge during the cold, winter months could drastically boost your mood and actually give you something to look forward to.
7. Speak to a Professional
Just like any other mental illness, seasonal affective disorder can have a big impact on your life. Just because it goes away for part of the year doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem. If you’re struggling hard, then consider speaking to a therapist or another health care professional.
Cognitive behavior therapy and anti-depressant medications are available specifically to treat seasonal affective disorder. You can find a therapist online to help you get through this winter and all the future ones.
It’s never too late to start seeking help for seasonal affective disorder. If you realize that this happens to you every year, then be proactive at the end of the summer and take steps to prepare for the grey months ahead.
Treating seasonal affective disorder can feel like we’re fighting our very nature. Like bears who sense the call to hibernate, we stock up on snacks, crawl into bed and dream of sleeping until the snow melts. But if we did that, we’d miss out on a lot of life. Don’t let seasonal affective disorder keep you from enjoying life, especially around the holidays.