Maternal Mental Health: Wellness or Wobble? Part 2: Meeting our OWN needs…


So sleep is awful, right? We’re knackered exhausted, hardly even know which way is up and there’s nothing we can do about it. Right?

Wrong.

Even when the sleep ‘struggles’ are completely developmentally normal and there is nothing ‘wrong’ with little one, there are still things we can do to ease the strain and help ourselves feel more human again.  Things that ARE in our control where sleep isn’t.

And THIS is such an important one when it comes to our mental health and wellbeing.

Constantly fighting against something that just isn’t in our control is exhausting, debilitating and demeaning. It’s a total morale crusher.

Making small baby steps to change something that IS in our control? That’s empowering, uplifting, confidence boosting and rousing.  Plus the benefits of the change obviously help us to feel better and once we see those we take enough encouragement to start making little changes in other areas.

The area I’m talking about?  Taking care of ourselves, meeting our OWN needs.

By taking good care of ourselves we give ourselves, and the universe, the message that we’re worth it, we’re good enough, we’re valued when often as new mums struggling with lack of sleep, breastfeeding and all the things, we tend to feel very different to that.

The way I see it we have 3 levels of need.

1.On a basic level we all need water, good nutrition, movement and sleep.

I know, you’re already laughing because we’ve established the latter ain’t happening, you can’t move for nappies and there’s a child clamped to you, the diet consists of whatever you can reach from your nursing chair and preferably high in sugar to keep you awake, and you drink when you remember…which isn’t very often.

I get it.

But how much better would it feel to know you had consciously taken control of meeting your own needs, had water bottles all over the house where you could reach them easily, had a range of fruit and veg to hand to munch on to fuel your body from the inside and found time to do a few glorious stretches every morning to ease the aches of bedsharing?  I know how unrealistic that may sound to so many of you…it did to me and it does to most of the clients I work with, to begin with.  But there’s a way.  There’s always a way.

And sleep?  Check in with your own sleep hygiene…are you glued to screens before you drop or do you allow yourself some screen free wind down time? Do you practise some evening gratitude, journaling or stretching to close the day and empty your mind before sleep?  What about an epsom salt bath?  Do you nap when the baby naps or rush about like a loony doing all the things?  There’s always a way to make small incremental upgrades to whatever it is we’re already doing…even if it feels impossible.

2. Once our basic needs are met we begin to realise we yearn for space, time and help

Without space and time, just to be, we start to feel claustrophobic, trapped, frustrated and resentful.  Getting outside, or just looking up at the sky both help to feel a greater sense of space and freedom.  Mindfulness allows us to practise just being…and can be woven into all and every part of our days, even with a small person attached to us.  And we achieve both of these? By asking for and accepting help.  So many of the mamas I work with are struggling yet haven’t asked for help, or have turned it down when it’s offered.  Take the help. Anywhere and everywhere you can.  You don’t have to be supermum, you don’t have to do it all yourself.  You don’t have to pretend you’re coping and it’s all ok.  If it’s not.  Ask for help.

3. Filling our own cup with joy

One of the biggest struggles my mamas have, is that they’ve lost their joy.  They can’t find the joy in motherhood they so wanted.  And because they’re not taking the time to fill their own cup they don’t have a full cup to pour from when it comes to anyone else.  When they’re not showing love to themselves, it’s harder to show love to their little ones, partners.  That snappy mummy, resentment and even anger is lurking and it’s not a nice place to be.

There is so much mindset work to be done here, but the simplest way to shift is to find three things to be grateful for every day so your brain gets used to finding positives and then starts to look for more, and to write your own happiness list.  Find 10 things that make you happy and then find a way to weave them into your life…asking for help when needed!  Music is a super simple one, and dancing, crazy family dance parties if necessary.  Just find your joy, whatever that looks like, and get more of it.

And if you don’t know where to look, or it’s buried far too deep, reach out, because that’s what I help mamas with every day and I’d love to help you too. Feel free to drop me an email at hello@courageandchamomile.com or click here to find out more about my Journey to Joy programme. 

Speaking of reaching out, next up we’re looking at how we communicate and the impact that has on our mental and emotional health and wellbeing.  Click here to read on.

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