Hysterectomy: A Chance at Freedom from Endometriosis

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.
Hysterectomy: A Chance at Freedom from Endometriosis
*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.

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

48 Hours

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.

Day 3

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.

Day 4

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.

Day 5

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.

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering From Postpartum Depression
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The First Two Weeks

Movement

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.

Pillows

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).

10 Important Warning Signs of Endometriosis
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Constipation

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.

Stairs

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.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Suffering with Endometriosis
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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.  

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up About Chronic Pain
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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.

Ovulation

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:

    • pelvic pain (on the side of the remaining ovary)
    • tender breasts
    • PMS symptoms (mood swings, food cravings, headache, bloating)

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.  

Birth Control

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.

Freedom

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.

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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.

Hysterectomy: A Chance at Freedom from Endometriosis Hysterectomy: A Chance at Freedom from Endometriosis

How To Know If Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

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.
How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
*This is a sponsored post for which I received compensation. As always, the opinions in this post are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links.  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.

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.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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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.

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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.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression .

There is a lot of fear and stigma around maternal mental health, which is one of the main reasons why mothers don’t speak up about postpartum depression.  Online therapy offers services that can help break down those barriers and encourage mothers to feel confident enough to speak up.

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.


How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

How to know if Online Therapy is the right choice for moms

11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health

Moms are hardworking and give all of themselves to their children and families… but at what cost?

A mother who works endlessly to provide for the needs of her children can often forget to take care of herself.  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.
11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health
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.

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.

Postpartum Insomnia
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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.

How to Reset When You're Feeling Over touched
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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.

Make it habit to look at yourself in the mirror at least once a day and find something that you love about what you see.

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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.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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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 can be a symptom of anxiety and 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.

The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)
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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.

Is Decluttering the Secret to Less Stress and Better Mental Health?
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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!

5 Spring Fashion Must-Haves for Busy Moms
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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.

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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 does harm to your mental health. 

Distance yourself from the negative people in your life, and surround yourself with those you love instead.

Self Care Routine for a Stay at Home Mom
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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.


11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health 11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health

11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health
11 Things Moms Do that Harm their Mental Health

11 Things Moms Do that Harm their Mental Health

12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year

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.
*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.

January 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

February 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

March 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

April 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

May 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

June 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

July 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

August 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

September 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

October 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

Be proactive this month in order to improve your mental health.  Sign up for some online therapy sessions that you can do at your own pace in preparation for the stress that lies ahead.  Stock up on aromatherapy supplies and enroll in a yoga class.  Get as much information as you can about mental illness because knowledge is power.

Being prepared for the most stressful season ahead can help you feel less overwhelmed.

November 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

Whether you start your Christmas shopping early or leave it to the last minute, there should be someone who is at the very top of the list.  You.

This is the month to indulge.  Buy that special something you’ve always wanted but felt guilty splurging on.  Or sign up for a monthly self care box.  I mean, sure, Christmas is coming and you could always add it to your wish list – but there is something so meaningful and significant about buying something yourself.

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.

December 2020 Mental Health Calendar
Click here to get this FREE printable 12 Month Calendar and other free resources.

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.

Don’t forget to download a free printable PDF calendar in the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide Free Resource Library!Click here to subscribe for instant access!

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12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
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12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Treat it?

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.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
*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. Exposure to Light

The Luxor | Well.ca

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.

And don’t underestimate the power of pure sunlight.  While it’s true that too much sun can damage your skin, sun exposure has several benefits as well.   Once daylight savings time ends, the hours of sunlight in the winter are limited.  So make it a point to soak up as much of it as you can. 

Get outside in the sunlight as often as possible, even if it’s a cloudy day.  Exposure to natural sunlight can help boost the production of serotonin, which will make you feel a little less depressed.


2. Eat The Right Foods

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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.


3. Aromatherapy

Photo by Drew L on Unsplash

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.

You can find blends that make you feel energized, relaxed, and reduce tension and stress for a clearer mind.  You can even splurge on an entire set of different scents so that you can choose a different one each day.

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

5 Activities that will get rid of the Post Holiday Blues
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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

amazing benefits of yoga for postpartum depression
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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 Lifestyle
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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

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder