Postpartum anxiety. That part that no one talks about. Let. me. tell. you. It is NO JOKE. I wanted to share my experience to not only let others know that you’re not alone, but also to list a couple of things that have helped me cope. I want to start by saying don’t be afraid to take medication that your doctor prescribes you. For some reason there is a stigma behind taking anti-depressants. But, like, why? Mental health is important. Being the best version of yourself is important. Most of all, your happiness is important. It’s hard to feel like a good wife, mother, etc. when you aren’t happy with yourself. People need to take postpartum anxiety and depression more serious. Babies are being left without mothers because the mother felt alone and didn’t get the help that she needed. Okay, now back to my experience.
I have struggled with mild anxiety my whole life, but have never experienced it in full swing until postpartum. When I say anxiety I mean heart racing all day, mind racing all night, finally falling asleep and waking up in a panic. Toxic thoughts. Not fun. So what can be done to cope? I’m going to list five major things that have helped me. They may sound kind of basic, but trust me. It works.
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I am not one who likes to exercise, and I especially hate running. Ask my mother-in-law who signs me up for 5K runs. She is way more motivated than I am. But, I started working out and it’s seriously a game changer. I literally made up my own workout in my phone notes that takes about 15 minutes to get through. 15 minutes is all it takes. Find yourself an accountability partner and just DO IT. I know motivation is the hard part, but you will feel so much better after each workout. Not to mention I’ve lost five pounds since I started. Look better, feel better. Do better. If you don’t want to do a full workout, go for a walk. Just be active! I also find that scheduling specific days to workout helps me to actually get it done. If I totally wing it for the week, then you’ll find me on my couch binge watching The Vampire Diaries. Exercising also wears me out and makes me want to actually fall asleep at night. Bonus!
2. ENJOY A DAY TO YOURSELF
Whether it’s for one hour or ten hours, enjoy a day alone. A day alone works wonders. Go get a pedicure, drive to Taco Bell, heck, go to Walmart and walk around. Scratch that — go to Target. Walmart gives me anxiety. Just enjoy yourself without your baby and your significant other. Bring a friend if you feel like being social. Tell them how you’re feeling. All of these things will bring relief and a calm mood. Or, if you’re like me, you may still be a tad bit anxious wondering how your little baby is doing without mama. But that’s beside the point.
3. READ A CALMING BOOK
My current read that my sweet Nana got for me is Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen. The title speaks for itself. This book is faith-based, which is perfect for me, but I understand it may not be for everyone. My point is, find a book that appeals to you and read it! Of course in my case, I have to get my son down for a nap first to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet. I’m sure many of you can relate. Reading distracts us from our surroundings and can actually reduce stress by lowering the heart rate according to a study by the University of Sussex in 2009. I personally love Jennie Allen’s book and the way that she speaks from her heart. It is truly hard to put down once you start reading.
Find the book here: https://amzn.to/3i8aBoK *Purchase through this link for $15, originally $23.99*
4. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
“Make these foods a part of your anti-anxiety diet. You might be surprised to learn that specific foods have been shown to reduce anxiety.” Achieving better mental health through your diet is possible and according to health.harvard.edu, anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lowered total antioxidant state. A few antioxidant super foods to add to your diet includes, but is not limited to, beans, fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetables. Eating a balanced diet and limiting junk food will make you feel better — it’s not a myth, no matter how much we want it to be. I’m all about Taco Bell and donuts, but if eating healthier can help my overall mental health, um, YES PLEASE! Read more about it at the link below:
Now, for me, this is at the top of my list. But, I understand that not everyone grew up with a religious background. Praying and talking to God just gives me a sense of calm. My whole mood shifts as if I just gave all of my problems to Him. If you aren’t religious, write in a journal. Just write down how you feel and what you want to accomplish. But if I could tell you one thing, talk to God. He always hears you. Always. Always.
I want to wrap this up by telling you that I am always a shoulder to lean on if you need to talk postpartum anxiety and/or depression. Or if you just want to talk life. Just please, reach out! You don’t have to walk your journey alone. Talk to someone. Take care of yourself. Life is messy! Embrace the mess.