Anxiety is a common condition among moms and not just in the postpartum period.
It can be difficult to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, especially for new moms. Once you become responsible for another life, it’s natural to worry about everything. So how do you truly know when your worries are a normal part of motherhood, or when they’re a condition that requires further treatment? You can read about the specific types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms, but what it comes down to is whether or not your constant state of worry is disrupting your life.
If they are, then check out some of these natural methods for coping with anxiety from mental health advocate Brandon Christensen of Modern Therapy.
Everyone faces anxiety daily, but some of us live with more persistent symptoms. Anxiety is actually the most common mental health issue, reportedly affecting more than 18% of US adults. Natural remedies and lifestyle changes are a great way to remedy some of these symptoms, but they are never meant to replace or stop any treatments you are currently receiving. If you are already getting treatment, check with your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist prior to implementing any changes.
Exercise helps anxiety by burning off anxious energy. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there is evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than those who are sedentary. The reason that exercise may improve mental health is because it helps the brain cope better with stress. The study actually showed that those who exercised regularly had a 25% less chance of developing depression or anxiety over the preceding five years.
Meditation eases anxiety by slowing racing thoughts, which is a very common symptom. Once you are able to slow your thoughts down, you can manage your stress and other anxiety symptoms more effectively. Brain imaging has been used to show that meditation is associated with the activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. These areas of the brain are involved with executive function and the control of worrying. When meditation activates these three regions, it shows a relief linked to anxiety.
Journaling is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings with the intent of understanding them more clearly. Keeping a journal allows you to reflect on the way certain situations make you feel, which can help you regain control of your emotions. Sometimes even just expressing your anxious feelings makes them more manageable. As you sit and reflect on how you are feeling, you are going to gain a lot of insight to yourself.
4. Time Management Strategies
Having too many commitments at once is a big cause of anxiety symptoms. Time commitments usually involve family, work, and health related activities. When you are able to manage your time effectively, you can focus on just one task at a time, while being sure to leave room for self-care. With online calendars, it is becoming even easier to plan your days and weeks out. This can help you avoid multitasking, which leads to anxiety symptoms.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils that are found in plants, which are used for their healing properties.Essential oils are great to smell, but can also be absorbed through the skin through massage or inhalation. It is widely used to reduce stress because certain scents, such as lavender, are known for their calming effects by reducing the heart rate in the short term. Behavioral psychologists will also tell you that if you associate a certain scent with being calm, you will naturally begin to feel those effects over time.
6. Herbal Teas
Chamomile tea is widely used as a natural remedy to decrease anxiety and treat insomnia. It is actually regarded as a mild tranquilizer or sleep inducer. The calming effects can be attributed to an antioxidant call apigenin, which is found in chamomile tea. There is direct effect on the brain, including reduced anxiety. Some people also find the process of making and drinking tea soothing.
7. Time With Animals
Research confirms that pets can be beneficial to people with anxiety because they offer companionship, love, and support. Pets and therapy animals can help to alleviate stress and anxiety because they provide a sense of security and routine that provides emotional and social support. Pets are generally facilitators of getting to know people, friendship formation, and social support networks.
8. Talk Therapy
Research shows that talk therapy is usually the most effective way to treat anxiety disorders. Therapy will do more than just treat your symptoms, it will help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears, help you learn to relax, look at situations differently, and develop coping skills. When you engage in talk therapy, you get the tools to overcome anxiety. If you are ready to work with a talk therapist who specializes in anxiety treatment, click here!
Brandon Christensen is a passionate business leader and mental health advocate who is on a mission to leave the world a better place than he found it. Brandon is the co-founder of Modern Therapy, a mental healthcare company that provides talk therapy services in person or online through messaging, phone, and video sessions. Brandon has been featured as a keynote speaker on mental health topics at colleges like NYU, Skidmore College, and Columbia University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Putting effort into our outward appearance is not a sign of vanity. It has a significant impact on how we feel inside.
Being happy means aiming to both look and feel good, but it’s not always easy to do. For mothers, how we look is not always representative of how we feel (and other times it is all too accurate).
We may feel young and sexy and full of life but we look tired, worn out and as though we’ve given up on ourselves. Or alternatively, we may feel like we’re dying on the inside, so we overcompensate by layering on makeup to give the appearance that “everything is fine.”
This spring, as the weather begins to warm up, we should challenge ourselves to match how we look with how we feel.
Start From The Inside
How we look on the outside all begins with how we feel on the inside.Self esteem comes from within and if we are happy with who we are, it shows in a physical way. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or substance overuse, then the first place to start is therapy.
Working with a therapist, either in person or online, can help you manage everything that is creating self-doubt or a poor self image. Online therapy in particular, is extremely convenient, especially for moms.
Schedule your online or video therapy sessions over the winter, ensuring that you get the most out of spring and summer.
Focus on Health
Weight issues are some of the most common hurdles to looking and feeling good. As mothers, we’ve stretched and shrunk, been cut open, torn apart and pieced back together. Our bodies have changed in so many ways and it can be difficult to accept it as it is now.
One way to look and feel good is to forget about the extra skin on our stomachs or how much we weigh and just focus on being healthy. Exercising to stay healthy is different than exercising to lose weight or tone muscle. Don’t worry about counting calories or inches, just try to eat healthier food and incorporate vitamins and nutritional supplements to avoid deficiencies.
If our main focus is on being “healthy” rather than being “fit” there is less pressure on us to meet certain goals and we can learn to love our bodies again.
In addition to being healthy, we also need to feel strong. Strength comes in many different forms. We can train ourselves to be physically strong by joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming, or playing a sport. It’s important to find emotional and mental strength, as well. Try meditation, journaling, art or aromatherapy.
Being strong, both physically and mentally will inspire confidence and a sense of pride in ourselves.
Make a Statement
Your outward appearance tells the world about you, so what is it you want to say? Make a statement with your appearance by choosing clothing and accessories that speak to you. This “Be Kind” Necklace is a simple and elegant way to remind yourself and others of the power of kindness (get 15% off with code FRIENDS15).
Clothing lines like Shine The Light On create pieces that help raise awareness about mental health. Modern, minimalist messages imprinted on soft, luxurious fabrics make it simple to spread messages of hope and acceptance wherever you go.
In addition to looking good while making a statement, a portion of the proceeds from the Shine The Light On collection goes towards mental health initiatives – so you can also feel good knowing that you are helping to end the stigma of mental illness.
Click here to see the stunning clothing line from Shine The Light On and get 15% off with coupon code RUNINTRIANGLES15
Take Care of Your Skin
You don’t need to do your hair and makeup to look and feel good this spring, but you should always take care of your skin. Glowing, healthy skin looks good from the outside and can make a person feel good on the inside.
As mothers, when we feel over-cuddled and overstimulated after a long day, it’s our skin and sense of touch that suffers. This is why caring for our skin plays such an important role in how we look and feel. Plus, the act of massaging lotion onto our skin can stimulate our lymphatic system and help keep our bodies healthy from the inside.
So splurge on a good, all natural skin care line to make sure that you’re not coating your skin in chemicals. Soak in a bath filled with Epsom salts to help soften and relax your muscles. Use sunscreen all year round, especially when you plan to spend longer amounts of time outdoors.
Try a new look this spring. Cut or color your hair, try out a new clothing style or color that you would never normally wear. Get a piercing or tattoo, eyelash extensions, permanent makeup or micro-bladed eyebrows. You don’t need to go so far as getting plastic surgery, but if there are specific problem areas that have always bothered you, then consider booking an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options.
Don’t be afraid of change, though it might take some time to get used to. Only make changes that are truly something you want to do, and never in an effort to please anyone else or be someone other than yourself. Changing something about your outward appearance can make you feel mysterious, spontaneous and empowered.
Deciding to change something about your appearance should remind you that you are in control of your body and what happens to it.
Comfortable Is Beautiful
“The mom look” is normally one associated with comfort and function. But comfortable can also be beautiful so don’t feel like you need to trade one for the other. It is entirely possible to look good and feel comfortable at the same time, as long as you choose the right pieces.
If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, whether it’s shoes that pinch or a waistband that’s too tight, you will act uncomfortably. So just bite the bullet and get rid of anything that you hate wearing, no matter how expensive or “designer” it might be.
Being comfortable in your own skin is the best way to show the world your confidence and beauty.
Moms are hardworking and give all of themselves to their children and families… but at what cost?
While these are qualities that everyone admires about mothers, they often come at a cost. A mother who works endlessly to provide for the needs of her children can often forget to take care of herself. A mother’s mental health, in addition to her physical well being, is so important because moms definitely cannot afford to take sick days.
Many mothers don’t even realize some of the things they are doing to harm their mental health. It’s easy to fall into “survival mode” and not think about anything other than just making it through to the end of the day. Some of the things we do each day to survive, whether intentionally or not, can have a negative impact on our mental health.
Here are a few things many moms do that can actually harm their mental health.
Forget to Eat
This one is at the top of the list because it’s something all moms are guilty of. We get busy preparing meals for the kids and when we try to sit down to eat our own food, someone spills something, or wants seconds or needs ketchup. Moms may have every intention of eating a full meal while it’s still hot, but it rarely ever happens. And when it does, it probably consists of sandwich crusts with a side of half eaten fish sticks.
Good nutrition is important for maintaining our mental health. Many symptoms of depression and anxiety worsen when our bodies experience vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. By forgetting to eat throughout the day, it’s easy to fall into the unhealthy habit of binge-eating at night, which can cause feelings of guilt and contribute to depression.
Don’t let bad eating habits harm your mental health. Eat healthy and use supplements to make sure your body is getting enough energy.
Go to Bed Late
It’s no secret that moms are always tired. Raising kids is exhausting work, both physically and mentally, and it requires a good amount of sleep that we often don’t get. But even the most sleep deprived mom is sometimes guilty of staying up way past bedtime.
After the kids are in bed is sometimes the only chance a mother gets to herself all day. Whether it’s catching up on recorded TV shows, scrolling through social media or just enjoying the peace and quiet, we never want it to end. But staying up late is a habit that does a lot of harm to our mental health.
Actual phone calls are becoming more of a rare occurrence in this modern world. Plus, everyone knows that the kids think “mom’s on the phone” translates to “scream as loud as you can.” A text message is so much more convenient for a mother and it’s the preferred way of communicating. So when our phone rings, it’s instinctual that we silence our phone and ignore the call.
Of course, it all depends on who the call is from, but if it’s a friend, don’t ignore it. Talking to someone on the phone can be therapeutic and mean so much more than a simple text message. Mental illness works by isolating us from others, so being able to connect with someone on a real, human level is important for keeping us sane.
The next time someone calls you, just answer it.
Avoid Looking in Mirrors
This is kind of a weird one, and I bet you don’t even realize that you do it (or don’t do it). If you’re a stay at home mom, chances are you probably haven’t changed out of your sweat pants in three days. Maybe you forgot to brush your teeth this morning and you can’t even remember the last time you washed your hair. You may avoid looking at yourself in the mirror for fear of what you might see.
Avoiding a mirror means that we’ve created an idea of what we look like in our minds and it’s one that we feel unhappy with. This idea can lead us down a path to poor self-esteem and lowered confidence levels, an environment in which mental illness thrives.
All you have to do to maintain your mental health is look at yourself in the mirror at least once a day, and find something that you love about what you see.
Skip Doctor Appointments
The doctor, dentist, therapist, optometrist, chiropractor, etc. – we haul the kids around to regular appointments and yet procrastinate our own. Pregnancy means doctor appointments so frequently that we get to know the staff in our OB’s office on a personal basis. We cared about those because they were important for the well being of our child, which is one of our biggest priorities.
I’m sure we can all come up with a hundred excuses as to why we do this. It costs money we may not have and it’s hard to find time to attend these appointments without the kids. But this act of self-sacrifice is dangerous for both our mental and physical health.
Try booking all your checkups for the year in advance so that you can make whatever arrangements you need to in order to attend them.
Depend Too Much On Coffee/Wine/Advil
Addiction is not something that’s spoken about enough among mothers. We tend to think of addicts as people living on the streets, wasting their lives away. But addiction can happen to anyone, and at different levels of intensity.
Caffeine, alcohol and medications are common addictions among mothers. And while it may not be at a point where they are destroying our lives, we’re unsure how we would function without them. Relying too heavily on coffee or needing that glass of wine to help us relax at the end of the day are all forms of addiction. Addictive behaviors are something we should try to avoid for better mental health.
Try to limit how much you depend on stimulants to make it through the day and choose healthier options that are better for your mental health.
Pile Things in a Closet
You know which closet I’m talking about, everyone has one (or four) in their home that’s filled with junk. If you’re not sure where to put something, pile it in a closet until you get to it, right? But you’ll probably only get to it when that closet is so full that you can’t even open it anymore.
Clutter can weigh heavily on our minds, destroying our mental health in the long run. Knowing that we have a closet filled with junk, being unsure of what exactly is in there, and putting off cleaning it out can make us feel depressed and unproductive. You don’t need to go full minimalist, but avoiding hidden clutter is a good place to start.
Spring cleaning time is nearly upon us, so make those junk-filled closets a priority.
Shop Only For the Kids
Not only are kids fun to shop for, but they also need a LOT of stuff. They grow so fast that it’s hard to keep up with their sizes. And if you’re like me, then you live vicariously through them and buy things that you would have loved to have as a kid. But then what happens is that you have kids who look like children of celebrities and you get mistaken for their nanny.
So make a shopping trip alone and don’t you dare wander into the kids section!
Avoid the Outdoors
Whether it’s the cold weather or your greasy hair keeping you indoors, it’s doing harm to your mental health. Our bodies need fresh air and sunshine, they literally cannot function properly without it. If you think the trip from the house to the car and back again is enough, it’s not.
It’s not just about the fresh air, though, otherwise you could just open a window. You need to talk to people, make eye contact, feel their touch and smile at them. Find space to move your body – run, walk, swim, whatever makes you feel good. A change of scenery and some time outdoors is the easiest way to improve your mood.
So make it a habit to get outdoors at least once a day, and twice on weekends.
Put up with Negative People
You don’t need negative energy in your life, especially if your mental health is already suffering. However, cutting people out of your life is easier said than done. You don’t need to be rude to anyone, make a big deal out of it or even say anything at all. Just avoid spending time with people who cause you to feel stressed.
It could be the mother of your child’s friend who constantly tries to “one-up” you. Or maybe it’s that pessimistic family member who makes you worry about everything happening in the world. Don’t feel obligated to socialize with people who’s negative attitude affects your mental health.
Distance yourself from the negative people in your life, and surround yourself with those you love instead.
Compare Themselves to Others
You will never experience peace of mind if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. This is especially common among the parenting community, despite the fact that all children and parenting styles are different.
It can be difficult on our mental health to see others doing well when we are clearly struggling. But remember that people are more inclined to share their success stories, than they are their struggles. This explains the stigma surrounding mental illness and the reason why so many mothers don’t talk about it.
Speak openly about real motherhood and all the struggles that come with it. And encourage others to do the same.
With more and more information about postpartum depression readily available to new moms, will they take the time to read it?
When I was an expectant first time mom, I knew very little about postpartum depression. It was surprising because, as a researcher by nature, I wanted to know about every possible complication I could get. But I scoffed at the thought of getting postpartum depression. In my mind, mental illness was for the weak. And even if I did get it, I would never let it get the best of me – I was a strong, positive, confident person.
I horrifically underestimated the power of postpartum depression.
Ultimately, it did get the best of me and it’s a battle that I still fight to this very day. I sadly regret not taking the time to learn more about maternal mental health and postpartum depression 10 years ago when I had the chance. So now I urge all new mothers, expectant mothers, first, second, third time mothers, to read as much information about postpartum depression as they can find, even if you doubt that you’ll get it.
Here are some specific things that I wish I had known.
1. You don’t need to have a history of mental illness in order to get it.
One of the biggest misconceptions about postpartum depression is that it can only occur if you have a history of mental illness. But because there is no clear reason why women get postpartum depression, this is not a fact we can rely heavily on. This means that you could get postpartum depression even if you’ve never dealt with mental illness before and have no family history of it.
Another thing to take into consideration is the silent struggle of mental illness. It’s likely you DO have a family history of mental illness but it was never, ever spoken of. If we think the stigma of mental illness is an epidemic now, imagine what it was like 40 years ago, or more.
Ruling out postpartum depression based solely on the fact that you have no history of mental illness is not a guarantee that you will not get it.
2. You can get it even if you have zero risk factors.
Some of the risk factors for postpartum depression are:
A personal history of mental illness (depression, anxiety, bi-polar)
A family history of mental illness
An unplanned pregnancy
A difficult pregnancy
An emotional experience with pregnancy or childbirth (infertility, miscarriage, premature labor, complications, special needs baby)
A traumatic labor and delivery
A history of domestic violence or sexual abuse
Stress (including financial or marital stress)
Lack of a proper support system
Difficulties caring for baby (postpartum complications, breastfeeding problems, colic, etc.)
The list is long but basically it says that if you experience anything other than a “perfect” journey into motherhood, you’re at risk of getting postpartum depression. So let’s take a long shot and say that everything, from the moment you conceived until your child’s first birthday, went exactly as you imagined and nothing terrible happened along the way…
You could still get it!
Again, no one knows exactly why women get postpartum depression. Some theories say it has to do with a shift in the hormones – which would mean the risk factors actually have nothing to do with it at all.
It’s important to know that trauma is not the only trigger of postpartum depression. Mental illness tends to prey on the weak, and we are often at our weakest shortly after experiencing a life changing event such as becoming a mother. Sleep deprivation, physical pain from labor, fears and anxiety and even the simple act of change can all trigger feelings of depression.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a great method to help figure out what is triggering the postpartum depression so that you can learn how to manage it.
4. It doesn’t necessarily start right after birth.
Making it through the first six weeks unscathed does not mean that you’re in the clear. Symptoms of postpartum depression can show up anytime within the first year after giving birth.
Some women experience the highest of highs after giving birth and can ride it out for months. This can make the drastic fall into postpartum depression that much more difficult.
Care for new mothers normally ends around six weeks postpartum. So it’s not uncommon for symptoms of postpartum depression to show up after this point, when all the help and attention suddenly comes to a grinding halt.
5. It’s likely you will experience some form of the baby blues.
It’s reported that 80% of new mothers suffer from the baby blues. The fact that it IS so common can actually make postpartum depression harder to diagnose because many women and medical professionals have trouble telling the two apart.
The rule of thumb is that if the symptoms don’t go away after a couple weeks, then it’s probably postpartum depression. This usually results in mothers being brushed off if they express any kind of concern about their mental health in the first few weeks postpartum.
While there’s no need to worry excessively that the baby blues will turn into something more – there are a few differences that you should keep an eye out for.
6. The most common symptoms are not the only ones.
When we think of the word “depression” we often associate it with sadness. But postpartum depression doesn’t always manifest as sadness. It usually manifests as a feeling of “nothingness.”
Feeling nothing, empty, or numb, is one of the most significant symptoms of postpartum depression because it’s what drives all the other symptoms. Being numb makes us feel fatigued and unable to do the most basic of tasks. We don’t want to go out anywhere or do anything. We don’t feel the urge to eat or sleep or laugh. We may not feel happy, but neither do we feel sad.
Postpartum depression can also cause a variety of different physical symptoms. Normally we don’t associate physical symptoms with mental illness and so we turn into hypochondriacs trying to find the cause of our physical pain.
7. It can show up as anxiety, or a combination of depression and anxiety.
Now here’s the real tricky part that always seems to confuse new mothers. Anxiety. When looking at a list of postpartum depression symptoms, the symptoms of anxiety and those of depression tend to be lumped together, making it even harder to know what it is you’re dealing with.
A new mother can experience anxiety in combination with postpartum depression, which means that all of that emptiness is replaced with a constant state of fear and worry. It’s the kind of worry that keeps you up at night. Things that never seemed to bother you much before now feel like the biggest threats. You imagine horrible scenarios in your head and do things to prevent them from happening, as far-fetched as they might seem.
Some new mothers deal with anxiety without the depression, in which case, they are not numb to all the normal emotions of motherhood but worry just the same. Anxiety is a dangerous mental health disorder that can open the door to intrusive thoughts, rage and obsessive compulsive disorder.
8. Your spouse or partner may be the first to notice that something is wrong.
The people who know you best will notice a change in you before you realize it yourself. They may not tell you that they notice it, depending on your relationship, but they’ll know. It’s kind of hard to live that closely with someone and not be able to spot that something just isn’t right.
Part of the responsibility of your spouse, partner, baby’s father, etc., is to help you through this postpartum period and recognizing the signs of postpartum depression falls into that category. Even if they don’t know exactly what’s wrong, they should speak up if they think you’re acting differently.
Try not to be offended or act defensively when someone you love says you might have postpartum depression.Approaching the subject of mental health is a hard task and the fact that they’ve said anything at all means they’re truly trying to help.
9. There is no shame in admitting that you have it.
Mental illness is so stigmatized that women who are suffering from a valid, medical, postpartum complication are afraid to tell anyone. They believe that battling a mental illness makes them look weak, when in fact, the opposite is true.
Warriors are working hard to end the stigma around maternal mental health, but until then, all we can do is educate others. The more people know about postpartum depression, the less shame there will be for those who carry the burden.
10. While there is no cure, it is treatable.
Once it’s triggered, postpartum depression lingers around like the annoying friend who’s overstayed their welcome. With treatment, and a little extra work, it is entirely manageable.
First off, mothers with postpartum depression need to proactively take care of themselves. They need to maintain their health and keep their stress level down. Mental illness thrives in a toxic environment, so it’s important to stay positive, eat right, sleep well and be mindful.
11. The best place to get help is from someone who understands maternal mental health.
When we hear of stories like Jessica Porten and Andrea Yates, the thought of talking to someone about postpartum depression is terrifying. These women are being treated like criminals by supposed professionals. And the public reaction to their “crimes” is even more disturbing.
That’s why it’s important to seek help from someone that you trust, and someone who understands the reality of postpartum depression. A great place to start is Postpartum Support International. You can call a helpline to get all kinds of information and support.
If you’re looking for more hands on help, talk to a postpartum doula who are trained specifically to help new mothers and recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression in it’s earliest stages.
12. If left untreated, you will likely struggle with symptoms for the rest of your life.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in the world. Postpartum depression has claimed many lives and while it is a worst case scenario, it CAN happen to anyone.
Even if the symptoms go away for a while, there is always the risk of a relapse. The only way to stay on top of the symptoms and win the battle against postpartum depression is by sticking to a treatment plan.
13. It’s entirely possible that you may not get it all, but it’s better to be prepared.
I had three all-natural, drug free births, but that didn’t stop me from researching epidurals and c-sections. I was thankful that I didn’t have either of them but I wanted to be prepared in the event that I did.
So why is postpartum depression any different? It’s the most common complication of childbirth and yet no one seems to know anything about it.
There is no harm in researching postpartum depression prior to becoming a mother. My hope is that you don’t get it, because I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. But if you do, at least you’ll be prepared.
3. How long has it been since your postpartum depression first started?
It’s been 7 years. The first year and a half postpartum was the worst. – Vanessa
2 years. – Anonymous
It began in the first few weeks after birth, so nearly 18 months now. – Alexandra
Five years. Since then I have had a daughter, my postpartum depression got worse after her birth. It’s a constant struggle but with the help and support of my midwife and family doctor it’s been easy to manage! – Amber
If I’m being honest, it started the moment he was born. – Anonymous
3 years. – Nicole
Three months – Anonymous
13 months – Brittany
Started December 2017. – Jodi
3 years. – Anonymous
8 years. I have had 2 more children since my first diagnosis. With my third and final delivery I was diagnosed with PPD/PPA psychosis. – Ashley G.
11 years. – Anonymous
It’s been 6 months. – Amanda
Five years. – Anonymous
Almost two years. – Katy
With my first kid it lasted a bit over a year. It got easier as time went on with treatment and therapy. With my second child it came on pretty hard but lasted about 4 months and has gradually gotten better quicker. – Samantha
Eight months.– Anonymous
Baby is 3 months old and I would say it started around him being one month. – Melissa
Since right after my son was born April 2017. – Marcella
Postpartum depression can last long after the postpartum period.
There’s a misconception that postpartum depression is a disorder that only affects moms in the “new baby stage.” While the first three months are normally when postpartum depression shows the first symptoms, it can last a whole lot longer than many realize. Postpartum depression can relapse upon the birth of another child, stress, illness, trauma or another trigger. Without treatment, it can be a lifelong battle.
What can we do to change this?
Seek treatment. Don’t expect postpartum depression to go away on it’s own, even if your symptoms start to get better. As your baby gets older, you’ll likely be able to fit in more sleep and better self care, which means the symptoms may ease up. But there are several different options available that can improve your quality of life now and in the long run. In addition to anti-depressants, there are different types of therapy available such as cognitive behavior therapy, and video therapy sessions.
A mother’s touch is known to have magical healing powers for a child.
The connection between a mother and their child is as physical as it is emotional. They are a part of our bodies, we feed them from our bodies, and we comfort them with our bodies. Our bodies are the go-to place for our children when they need to feel safe and secure. So at the end of a long day, mothers often end up feeling over touched or overstimulated.
The sensation of being over touched can have a big impact on our mental health. With our skin being our largest organ, it’s no surprise that a large amount of extra stimulation can cause us to feel frazzled and overworked. We end up feeling irritable, annoyed, anxious or even angry. It can cause insomnia and other sleep disturbances. And feeling over touched can have an effect on our relationships as well because it’s unlikely we’ll want to be intimate at the end of the day, either.
If you are feeling over touched after a constantly caring for and hugging babies, try these five techniques to help reset your nervous system.
1. Take a Time Out
It makes sense that if you’re feeling over touched, a quick fix would be to spend some time not being touched at all. It’s easier said than done for a busy mom, however. The sensation of feeling over touched on a regular basis can build up. Eventually causing worse symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. So it’s important to break that cycle of feeling over touched as regularly as possible.
If you can make this a regular habit, whether daily, weekly or longer, then you can reset your sense of touch and feel refreshed and re-energized. Having the kids crawl all over you may be unavoidable, but at least you’ll be better equipped to handle another round of it.
2. Try Dry Brushing
Now, this one might sound like it makes a little less sense. If you’re already feeling over touched, then wouldn’t brushing your skin just make it worse?
One of the benefits of dry brushing is that it stimulates the lymph system, which is the system that is designed to cleanse our body of toxins and waste. Keeping this system moving throughout our bodies can actually boost our immune systems and keep us healthy. Dry brushing can produce an almost instant energy boost just by helping to circulate our lymph.
Dry brushing the entire body can help to reset the sensation of feeling over touched. It is a controlled and intentional way of stimulating the nervous system and sense of touch. Unlike being tugged at and climbed all over by our kids, we are in control of how our skin is being touched and stimulated.
3. Have a Hot Shower or Bath
Water can do wonders to wash away the feeling of being over touched. A hot shower, especially one with a massaging shower head, is another great way to provide full body stimulation to eliminate that feeling of being pulled and tugged at.
If you’d rather soak in the tub, then add a scoop of Epsom salts to the bath water or try some relaxing bath bombs. The magnesium in the Epsom salts will relax tired muscles and soften the skin. You can even brush your skin during or after the bath, just add a bit of coconut oil, or other essential oil to your brush.
And most importantly, don’t forget to moisturize afterwards. In fact, you should use a good quality moisturizer as often as possible throughout the day. Dry skin is much more sensitive to being touched. Winter can be especially harsh on skin, and if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, feeling over touched can contribute to other symptoms as well.
4. Lie Under a Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket, like dry brushing, is another form of intentional touch. It might sound counterproductive to use deep touch pressure therapy (DTP) when we already feel so over touched. But again, this is a different kind of touch that works like a giant reset button on our nervous system.
Think of a fussy baby being swaddled, or an anxious child being hugged tightly. Steady pressure that consumes our entire body at once can make us feel calm and boost our serotonin levels. But as an adult, it’s harder to find a way to create that sense of steady full body pressure.
Weighted blankets are an excellent solution. You can lie under a weighted blanket for anywhere from a few minutes to an entire night, depending on your preference. You are in complete control of removing it, so you don’t need to worry about feeling trapped or suffocated.
Using a weighted blanket can be especially helpful if feeling over touched is causing insomnia or night time anxiety. Over stimulation is a major cause of sleep disturbances. Using a weighted blanket can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
The hardest part about using a weighted blanket is trying to choose which one is right for you. There are so many options in weight, filling, covers and sizes so how do you even know where to begin? Here are some tips about how to choose the right weighted blanket.
5. Sensory Deprivation Tank
This is, perhaps, one of the more extreme forms of therapy for feeling over touched, but it’s a luxurious way to relax and reset. Sensory deprivation tanks, or “float tanks” are popping up everywhere now. While it’s actually an ancient form of healing, they’ve become popular in modern society for their known benefits of relaxation.
In addition to the water, the tank is in complete isolation, which means that it’s dark and you’re cut off from outside sounds and smells. You are basically floating in complete nothingness. By depriving the body of all of it’s senses, you can be in a state of mindfulness and complete relaxation.
As a mother, you’re always ready and prepared to give the hugs and cuddles and be the rock for your children to climb on. Even when you’re feeling over touched, you’d never want to deprive them of that. But you can give better and stronger hugs when you’re feeling relaxed and rested. This is why self-care is such an important task for moms.
If the thought of being touched makes you cringe, it doesn’t make you a bad mother. While you may have to take a few additional steps to reset your senses each day, the feeling won’t last forever. So take care of yourself, mama, and then hug those babies. Because before you know it, you’ll have to chase them down just to get one.
The postpartum period is often synonymous with sleep deprivation…
But it’s usually caused by a hungry newborn.
If that baby isn’t causing all kinds of sleep disturbances and mom stillisn’t sleeping, then it could be a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia. Many mothers find themselves unable to sleep due to racing thoughts, unreasonable worries, and the inability to calm their body and mind at night.
Postpartum anxiety is a common condition that can affect a mother’s life in several different ways. She may experience social anxiety and avoid leaving the house or interacting with others. Anxiety can also manifest as anger and cause postpartum rage. Often, mothers experience a combination of postpartum depression and anxiety. But sleep deprivation can exacerbate all of these symptoms and cause even worse ones. There are several ways to treat postpartum anxiety insomnia naturally and stop things from getting out of control.
Here are 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep for moms who are suffering from postpartum anxiety insomnia.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
1. Create a Routine
Just like sleep training children, a bedtime routine is important for encouraging proper sleep. Going to bed at the same time each night and performing a few routine tasks will help train your brain and body to know when it’s time to go to sleep. Rewiring the brain altogether is one of the best ways to help fight off postpartum anxiety insomnia.
Keep in mind that it may take a while for your body to adjust to the routine. Depending on how bad your postpartum anxiety is, it could take months before you can regularly get a good night’s sleep. And since postpartum anxiety can be a life-long battle, you should be prepared to make your bedtime routine permanent.
Social media is a huge contributor to postpartum anxiety insomnia. Scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix before bed will only fuel your racing brain with more needless worries and thoughts. Make a plan to unplug from technology at least 1 hour before bed. Turn off the TV and switch your phone to Do Not Disturb mode so that notifications aren’t disturbing you in the middle of the night.
But if the thought of “working out” is causing you even more anxiety, then save it for the morning instead. You can still get a serotonin boost by doing a few simple stretches. Stretch your neck and shoulders, bend over and touch your toes or sit against a wall for a few seconds. Postpartum anxiety causes a lot of tension in the muscles and stretching those out before bed will help you feel more relaxed.
4. Take a Hot Shower
A hot shower is a great way to calm down before bed. The steam and heat combined with the gentle massage of the water beating down will relax the muscles and help open up the lungs. A massaging shower head is a bonus but not necessary. This can be especially welcome if you’re feeling over touched at the end of the day.
Don’t feel obligated to do anything else except just stand under the water and enjoy it. A hot bath can work in the same way, if you have the time. Throw in some Epsom salts for an added boost of magnesium to help relax sore muscles, fight off depression and induce sleep.
5. Sip Some Tea
There are several herbal teas that can help fight postpartum anxiety insomnia.Chamomile and Valerian Root are the most popular bedtime teas and for good reason. Green tea, ginger tea and other blends are all great too! Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find out what works. Even some plain hot water with a slice of lemon will help you detox before bed. As long as it’s hot and caffeine-free, it will help to calm and soothe your body from the inside.
Meditation is not for everyone. But if you’re dealing with a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, it might help to try to cleanse your brain of the millions of thoughts floating around in there.
There are actually a few different ways to meditate. You can try using a guided meditation app to help you get started. It’s also easy to practice self-guided meditation by setting a timer for a few minutes and sitting quietly as you work on eliminating all the thoughts from your brain. Meditating before bed is a way to manage your anxiety before your head hits the pillow, so that once it does – you will actually be able to sleep.
7. Invest in a Good Mattress
Sometimes it’s not the postpartum anxiety alone that is causing insomnia. A good night’s sleep begins with comfort and your mattress has a lot to do with it. But mattress shopping can be really tricky (I know this because I used to sell them for a living!) Lying down on a mattress in a showroom for a few minutes is very different than sleeping on it all night long. You can try several different ones but eventually they all start to feel the same. And then, once you get that mattress home with you – what happens if you don’t like it after a few nights – or worse, after a few months?
The key to making an important purchase such as a mattress is to look for one that will guarantee you a good night’s sleep. Unlike big box stores, mattress companies that sell their products directly will offer a better satisfaction guarantee and stand behind their product. The Nectar mattress, for example, offers a lifetime warranty, free shipping and is the only one I have seen that offers a free trial for an entire year!
Weighted blankets are all the rage right now. They have proven benefits to reduce symptoms of anxiety and help improve sleep. The best part is, they’re a simple tool that doesn’t require anything other than just cuddling up and getting comfortable.
The simple science behind a weighted blanket is that it creates a sensation of safety, similar to being hugged or held. The heavier the blanket, the more it stimulates your skin and sends messages to your brain that you are safe and protected. This allows the brain to stop worrying and rest for a while.
Consider purchasing one through Weighted Comforts. Not only do they offer a wide variety at competitive prices, but they’re also sewn by refugees living in the U.S.
9. Grow a potted plant
There are several plants that encourage a proper sleep environment. Having a potted plant on your nightstand or anywhere in your bedroom can purify the air and rid it of any toxins or negative energy. Some plants with scented flowers, such as lavender and jasmine, can actually induce sleep. This is a beautiful and easy way to encourage your mind to feel at ease enough to sleep.
Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have much of a green thumb. Start with one plant and research it to find out how to take care of it. Many houseplants are low maintenance, so as long as you don’t completely neglect them, they will thrive. Be warned though, growing houseplants can become a very addicting hobby…
Using scents is an easy way to transition the brain into a relaxed state.The National Sleep Foundation even suggests using scents to help you get a better night’s sleep. In order to battle a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, you should consider everything that you are inhaling in your bedroom – from dust and allergens that could be trapped in your carpet or mattress, to the fabric softener you use on your sheets.
There are several different ways to incorporate scents to help your mind and body relax so that you can not only fall asleep… but stay asleep! Scents that are good for relaxation and inducing sleep include Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Valerian and Frankincense, but the list goes on. You can try these in an essential oil(either a roll-on or in a diffuser), a linen spray, candles or scented satchets. You can even purchase Lavender-scented fabric softener to use on your sheets!
11. Try some background noise
One of the biggest problems with postpartum anxiety insomnia is the brain being unable to stop spiraling at nighttime. Something worth trying is distracting the brain through the use of background noise, such as gentle instrumental music or white noise like rain sounds. You could purchase a sound machine, but there are also several white noise playlists on Spotify. There are even apps that you can download that have a large selection of different sounds as well as other sleep aid features.
12. Don’t be afraid of the dark
Our brains are hardwired to associate sleep with darkness. With postpartum anxiety insomnia, it’s easy to look around the room and find a hundred other things to worry or think about. Reduce the amount of outside stimulation by making your bedroom completely dark. You can install blackout blinds or wear a sleep mask. Eliminate anything that your eyes can focus on, so cover up the blinking light on the TV and turn your digital clock around. If you start to feel anxious in the darkness, remind yourself that you can turn on a light whenever you want to, and that you are in complete control.
13. Keep a bedside journal
It’s true that we often think of the most important (or completely unimportant) things while we’re lying in bed. The thought of possibly forgetting about it in the morning can cause a certain level of anxiety and disrupt our sleep.
Writing in a journal or worry workbook before bed can help to eliminate some of the extra thoughts in our heads, but often we have a brainstorm as we’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. So keep a journal or notepad and pen beside your bed so that when these seemingly important thoughts come to mind in the middle of the night, we can write them down, go back to sleep and know they will be there in the morning.
14. Increase melatonin levels
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies. For a woman with postpartum anxiety, those hormone levels could be out of balance causing the insomnia. While melatonin supplements are readily available, they run the risk of causing side effects, just as with any other drug. They could also cause problems if a mother is on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds or breastfeeding. If you plan to start a melatonin supplement for postpartum anxiety insomnia, always check with your doctor first. However, there are ways of increasing your melatonin production naturally.
A lot of it has to do with diet. Foods that are rich in magnesium can help your body produce more melatonin. Pineapples, oranges, bananas and tart cherries are also rich in natural melatonin and make great bedtime snacks.