After having my third girl, (yes she was planned and no we were not trying for a boy), like many moms, I struggled with postpartum feeling overload. Ah, Mother Nature – she’s a real b**** for postpartum moms. Not only do you have to go through the physical challenge of birthing a human, but then you then have to manage through all the crazy feels while being sleep deprived. Thanks for that Mother Nature – much appreciated. Postpartum wasn’t terribly different from my previous two rounds, but there was one thing that got the best of me.
In an effort to crawl myself out of postpartum feeling overload, I was reading the book “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. One of the early chapters started with a quote by Lao Tzu “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the future.” This quote spoke mountains to me. Before reading it, I felt this feeling in the pit of my stomach but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was – kind of like the word that sits at the tip of your tongue. This feeling took hold of me and I started to obsessively worry about what was going to happen next in my world as a SAHM and if and how I was going to be able to deal with it. Eventually, my thoughts were consumed by this feeling and I was not a pretty person to myself or my family. Negative thoughts about what could happen swirled around my head over and over again. I played out different scenarios in my head – if the baby gets up at 8:30am, how am I going to be able to feed her and get the girls to school by 9:00? If I wake up the baby at 8:00am is she going to cry for the next two hours? I was consumed with worry and mom guilt with every action I took. Once I read Tzu’s quote, it was like a lightbulb clicked on. The feeling overload I was having was anxiety. This anxious beast was taking my already worrisome personality, putting it on steroids and making it monumentally harder to get through what were already long days. But the simple act of labeling what I was feeling allowed me to find solutions to calm the anxious beast that lived in my head. These are some of the things that work for me and I incorporate anywhere from 2-4 of them within my daily routine:
Yoga – One of my very best friends introduced me to yoga and I am in love (she’s pretty awesome too)! There is nothing more satisfying than sweating out every negative thought in your head while holding poses you didn’t think you could hold.
Gratitude Journal – I started this about 2 months ago and am seriously in love with it. Each night, I write at least three things from my day that I am grateful for. Sometimes, they are small things like drinking coffee at the perfect temperature. Other times, they are things that are bigger than me, like Little Sister “reading” to the baby for the first time. Either way, having this journal forces me to examine my day and look for the good in it as the last thing I do before going to bed.
Running – I never thought of myself as a runner until I became a mom. One day, I just forced myself to go for a short run and now, I cannot picture my life without it! It’s my escape from reality, my opportunity to see what my mind and body is capable of. With each mile I run, I learn more about who I am and who I want to be as a person, wife, mom, daughter.
Mantra’s – Y’all these are no joke! They can be simple or more complex depending on what you need to hear. Write them down on post-its and hang them front and center. One of my favorites to say in my head when I am “negotiating” with my one or both of my big girls is “You are a Mother F***ing Rockstar!”. You’ve got to be your biggest cheerleader!
Exercise – If I’m not running or doing yoga, I am moving. Maybe a walk outside or a quick at-home sweat session. For me, exercise clears my head and helps me to let go of things that need to be forgotten. Plus, as my girl Elle says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” ‘Nuogh said.
Being Present – This one is easier said then done, but I am working really hard on putting the phone away and ignoring my to-do list for a few minutes throughout the day so I can play with my girls, give them a cuddle, or read to them.
Get Away – Go to the bathroom, shut the door, and take 2 or 3 minutes. Get a babysitter and go to Target BY YOURSELF. Have your best mom friend over for coffee – let the kiddos play outside while y’all talk inside. Send your kids to Mothers Day Out or pre-school. Give yourself a break – trust me, it works.
With 3 kids under the age of 5, all bets are off on what can and will happen throughout the day. As a result, some days are easier than others when it come to dealing with my anxiety, but given the right tools I can tame the beast and run my days through my heart instead of my head.