10 Top Tips for Maternal Mental Health
Here are our 10 top tips for your maternal mental health!
1. LOWER STANDARDS: Accept imperfect
Motherhood is a balancing act, and one that we can’t fail. Yet many of us, with our high unrealistic expectations, often feel like we have failed or get it wrong. By accepting the imperfect, knowing that we don’t need to get it right, and knowing that our children actually benefit from us failing them in manageable ways, we can let go of that pressure. Try repeating to yourself, ‘OK is enough’ or ‘this doesn't need to be right or perfect.’
2. SELF-CARE: Pledge to put your oxygen mask on first
A key aspect of our wellbeing involves looking after ourselves. Self-care is the activities and actions we carry out in order to care for and protect ourselves, with the goal of improving our wellbeing. It asks ‘what we need’ and responds to these needs. Yet self-care needs time; something which mothers and mothers-to-be often lack. However in the same way you would MOT your car in order for it to carry you safely, you need this too in order to keep well. Do something daily to care for yourself, even if it's taking 10 minutes out to focus on your breath.
3. SLEEP: Grab those much needed Zzzs
Sleep is vital to our everyday functioning, hormones, immune function and emotional health. We often accept that when pregnant, or with a new baby, that we will just not have good sleep. However better sleep is something we can work to. Do what works for you, and try not to feel guilty about sleeping in the day, or having powernaps. Good sleep often involves preparation, routine, and changes to our sleep environment; however as with a flower, if we tend to our sleep, then it will grow. Check out our blog for sleep hygiene tips: https://www.mummaswellbeing.com/blog-1/sleep-and-wellbeing. If you can, choose one thing you can change, to sleep better.
4. EXERCISE: Move your body
The benefits of exercise are endless – including the triggering of our neurotransmitters linked to happiness. A recent study has even shown that a short sudden burst of exercise is more effective than medication in managing suicidal thoughts. As mums we need to find different ways to exercise, so if you can’t get out, do star jumps in the lounge, dance to music or sneak out for a quick run. Follow our friend Carly Corrigall for tips on exercise for mental wellbeing: www.clcfitness.co.uk.
5. COMPASSION: Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion doesn't have to be about cheerleading, or seeing the positive in everything, but it is about being kind to yourself, promoting a gentle feeling of warmth and care. It’s just like the compassion we feel for others but directed towards ourselves! We step away from self-critique and judgment and move towards helping ourselves. When you notice you are judging yourself, try imagining how you would respond to a friend who you care about, if they were in the same situation. This helps you tap into a more compassionate response.
6. MINDFULNESS: Exercise that mind
Mindfulness is a practice, which involves us focusing on the moment as it is, without judgment. With practice it can help us gain awareness of how we are feeling, let us better accept the emotions that come up for us and give us better control over our mind and its movements. By noticing what’s going on for us, we have a choice as to how we respond. Headspace is a great way to learn about mindfulness through daily mindfulness practices: https://www.headspace.com
7. TALK: Reach out to others
Keep talking about how you feel. This will not only help you, but will also support others and help us break the stigma. We are all human, we all feel difficult emotions, and that’s OK.
8. PLAN AND PREPARE: Support yourself to keep well
If your mood responds to situations in a certain way or if you have a personal history of mental health issues, try and support yourself by setting up a plan, informing your support network and planning how to help yourself, should your mood dip. This chart is a great plan for keeping well: https://www.tommys.org/sites/default/files/wellbeing%20plan%202016.pdf.
9. SOCIAL: Get off social media and do something social
Social media can be hugely supportive, but can also be a trigger if we are feeling low. See if you can reach out to a friend, call someone you haven't spoken to in a while, or even meet up with them. Despite the fact we think everyone around us is coping better than us, that is rarely the case, so discuss your concerns and let your friends normalise what’s going on for you.
10. GET SUPPORT: Expert advice can support your journey
Getting support can be the most difficult yet most important stage. Don’t hesitate to reach out should you notice that you feel you need support. Expert support is there, which can support you in setting up a plan and working through issues. There are also free resources such as our monthly mums support group. We are here for free advice should you require signposting or have questions about the support you need. You can also speak to your midwife, health visitor or your GP with any concerns if that feels helpful. If you can do 10 things for yourself a day, you will start to notice changes.
Mummas Wellbeing offers relaxation (massage, reflexology, Ayurveda), physical (Arvigo, physiotherapy, pilates, osteopathy, nutritional therapy) and emotional therapies (CBT, counselling and psychotherapy and mindfulness) to support you. If you know what service you want, give us a call. And if you don’t, just contact us and we will be happy to advise. We all need help, and asking for it only makes us stronger.
Dr Jo Gee
Mummas Wellbeing - is a specialist mums wellbeing service, in Guildford and Godalming, Surrey, UK. We offer Arvigo, hypnobirthing, counselling, psychotherapy, nutritional therapy, massage, mindfulness, osteopathy, physiotherapy, pilates, postnatal doula and reflexology for women through fertility, pregnancy, the postnatal period and parenting.
Tel: 07933 343180
Mummas Wellbeing - is a specialist mums wellbeing service, in Surrey, UK. We offer Arvigo, hypnobirthing, counselling, psychotherapy, nutritional therapy, massage, mindfulness, osteopathy, physiotherapy, pilates, postnatal doula and reflexology for women through fertility, pregnancy, the postnatal period and parenting.