Moms have to deal with all kinds of advice when it comes to being a parent.
Many mothers with postpartum depression are told to “fake it ’till you make it” which is a common psychotherapy practice. And in many cases, it’s a great way of building up a person’s confidence and self esteem. But it’s not always the best course of action and can actually be more dangerous than good. There’s a reason why this advice is best given by a licensed therapist and not just anyone on the street.
Here’s some more information about why the “fake it ’till you make it” advice isn’t always best for managing postpartum depression.
What does “fake it ’till you make it” really mean?
It’s all about pretending. Let’s say a new mother is struggling to bond with her baby or feel any emotions other than sadness and despair. She may be given the advice to “fake it ’till you make it.” What it means is that she should pretend to be happy. She should smile and cuddle with her baby as often as possible. The theory is that acting happy will convince her brain that she actually is happy until eventually she’s not depressed anymore.
I know, right? It sounds ridiculous.
But believe it or not, there is some merit behind this advice. It falls into the same category of things like positive affirmations, self help books, pep talks, or other self esteem building activities. They all work by building up our confidence and helping us to feel positive, empowered and worthy. The “fake it ’till you make it” advice basically says that if you want to be happy, you have to do what happy people do.
Why it’s not the best advice for postpartum depression.
While the practice of “faking it ’till you make it” does work for many people, it’s not the best thing to say to a woman suffering from postpartum depression. First of all, it’s dismissive. Telling a new mother simply to “fake it ’till you make it” is kind of like a slap in the face. It can leave her feeling ignored and neglected and makes light of her suffering. Postpartum depression is a major mental health disorder and being told to “fake it till you make it” treats it as no big deal.
The “fake it ’till you make it” advice is often misunderstood.
It’s not at all about faking a state of happiness in front of other people. But this happens too often, especially among mothers. When someone asks us how we feel following the birth of our child, we hide all of our pain and suffering and fake a smile.
Instead, the “fake it ’till you make it” advice should be focused inwards.
The idea is for mothers to act happy in order to train their ownminds and not to convince anyone else. Smiling in the mirror or dancing and singing to music when no one else is around are ways that we can fake a state of happiness for ourselves and no one else.
“Faking it” can also make it difficult to gauge whether or not your condition is getting better or worse.
The lines between real and fake can start to become blurred. This makes it difficult to tell whether the symptoms of postpartum depression are truly improving or not. If you’re planning to “fake it ’till you make it” you still need to be honest about how you are feeling in order to determine if it’s working.
What to try instead.
Boosting your confidence and re-training your brain to focus on the positive are both very important for healing from postpartum depression. But there are lots of ways to do it.
Without the help of a trained therapist, it can be all too easy for a mother to get stuck in this “fake” world. Postpartum depression already has a way of isolating us from the outside world and keeping us apart from our loved ones. When it comes to mental illness, things can get out of control without warning if left untreated. If you’re considering using the “fake it ’till you make it” method for boosting your confidence, do so with caution and preferably with the help and support of a medical professional.
Women need to practice self care because they take on a lot. Whether it’s a mom juggling the kids’ school and activities or a college graduate in the thick of their thesis paper, life can be quite exhausting. All of this overthinking and overworking can have a real impact on our mental health. That’s why every woman needs a day to themselves from time to time.
To get you started, here are six essential self care tips for that special day all to yourself!
Get Good Sleep
Sleep deprivation can have multiple compounding effects on the body. So without it, our bodies fail to repair damaged tissue, metabolize hormones, and even create memories or simply retain lessons learned. So, while women are stressed at work or worried about their kids in some way, it’s hard to shake it off before heading to bed.
To combat this, one essential self-care tip is to change your bedtime routine. Avoid foods with caffeine and sugar and, instead, drink some soothing chamomile tea. Another nasty habit women tend to have before bed? Checking their phone and watching television. For many reasons, it’s important to put these devices away or turn them off and on silent. Not only do they stimulate your brain when you should really be unwinding, but the blue lights screw with our melatonin hormone, which, in turn, confuses our circadian rhythms and disrupts proper REM. Instead, read a self-care book or write in a gratitude journal.
Other than your phone, keep bedroom lighting to a minimum to achieve proper sleep. Use blackout curtains and avoid using a nightlight, even in conjoining bathrooms. To get the best rest of your life, it should be perfectly pitch dark!
Be Mindful of What You Digest
This goes for food and everything that goes along with it—like nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Food is such a crucial role in how we feel, mentally and physically, and it can be affected on a daily basis. Reach for high-nutrient foods such as fatty fish, dark leafy greens, and brassicas (think broccoli and Brussels sprouts). The best way to be more mindful of what you digest is to know precisely what your body is absorbing. When you eat fast foods or takeout on a hurried day, you rarely stop to question what’s in it or from where it came. Instead, make sure you get the proper nutrients by creating a healthy meal at home, for family dinners or to carry into work for lunch.
Even if you don’t have time to go grocery shopping, you can have your local supermarket deliver weekly produce and ingredients straight to your doorstep. Not to mention, there is practically an endless variety of boxed meal delivery services from which to choose. Supplements can also improve our physical and mental health enormously. While it’s always best to first consult your physician or nutritionist, several supplements that could be beneficial are Vitamin D3, iron, omega-3, and even digestive enzymes.
Fresh air does more good for your body than you realize. So, it’s essential to remember to take a step outside every now and then. Seasonal Affective Disorder rears its ugly head in the winter as we tend to stay indoors, plan for the stressful holidays, and experience nothing but a cloudy gray haze. But it’s still important to get some sun and nourishing Vitamin D, which can be a real mood-booster.
You don’t have to go for a run—just a leisurely stroll in the park is enough. And, in doing so, you will also be getting some physical exercise, which will help clear your head and allow you to sleep sounder and deeper.
Organize Your Home and Thoughts
Sometimes, even the clutter we leave lying around can affect our mental state. It’s important to reassess the home every so often, declutter, and organize. Whether that means donating boxes to secondhand stores or gifting items to friends and family, tidying up your living space can leave you feeling refreshed. And that, in turn, can improve your mental clarity. Brightening up your space with new home treasures and décor can drastically change the look and feel of your home, bringing you a refreshing new outlook to your day to day!
When it comes to your thoughts, those need to be organized too, but in a different way. There are several ways to bring clarity to the mind. You can create lists as a way of “brain-dumping,” which can center or ground you, leaving you less overwhelmed about all the tiny menial tasks, and even big ones, too! Here’s a fantastic brain dump exercise to help guide you.
Slightly different than a brain dump, one essential self-care tip is to create a gratitude journal. It seems simple enough, but, by acknowledging the small moments and accomplishments you feel grateful for, you can let go of regrets and learn not to be so hard on yourself. You can start with morning affirmations and end with what you enjoyed about the day.
Meditate and Learn to Breathe Again
Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and a whole range of mental and even physical health issues. However, according to some studies, meditation has been proven to alter our heart rate and blood pressure, reducing these stress-driven health issues.
And this lies in the relationship between our diaphragm and our sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. Breathing exercises that accompany meditation engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which essentially tamps down the “fight or flight” response that chronic stress brings. And, by breathing through the diaphragm, women can trick the mind and body into this parasympathetic response. Here are some beginner tips for developing a meditation practice.
Create a Self-Care Reminder
Every once in a while, a woman needs a day to themselves. And, with our hectic lives, it’s important to pencil it in, guard it, and cherish it. Make it a regimen and schedule it once a month, at least. But, until that day, also be sure to practice a little self-care in your everyday routine.
Author Bio: Carolyn Eberhart serves as the Digital Marketing Manager for Natural Life. Carolyn oversees all digital marketing efforts relating to Paid Social Media and Email Marketing remotely from Redwood City, CA. During the week she is passionate about her career, cooking, exercising and hanging out with her family and on Sundays you can find her cheering on the Buffalo Bills!
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, time change, 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.