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.
Schedule yourself some self-care time throughout the day if possible, so that when bed time comes around you’ll be ready for nothing else but sleep.
Ignore a Phone Call
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.
Remember what it was like before kids, when a little retail therapy was the perfect cure for a bad day? It still works, but you need to actually focus on shopping for yourself. Moms tend to feel guilty or selfish spending money on themselves, especially when they’re on a tight budget. But splurging on something just for you is good for your mental health. [Start now and get $10 off a spring FabFitFun box using coupon code FAB10!]
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.