As you all know, I suffered from post natal depression and anxiety after the birth of our second baby, Aoife. Although, it took me months to actually see someone and get diagnosed. I now have anxiety alone, and am on medication. I think I've always had a bit of anxiety, but never really knew.
Now, I won’t even start on the judgement around that. It’s more common than anyone knows, and trust me if I hadn’t gotten this treatment I don’t know where I’d be. I was that low at one point I had terrible thoughts.
Having two babes under 17 months was TOUGH. I was solo parenting most of the time and our youngest had reflux so would not be put down flat AT ALL.
Anyway, I like to think we’re on the ‘other side’ of all of that now. It's still a daily battle though, some days more than others.
I’m on a small dose of medication. But I’ve also learned other ways to manage my anxiety, and I wanted to share them with you tonight in the hope that they help, somehow!
Get some perspective
Your little world, of ‘mumming’ and doing the daily chores, can all get very insular and start to close in on you. Get out. Walk. Do a class. Organise a mums night out, sans kids. Get some help. Just do something to ensure you see other people and the wider world. If your only option is to take your baby along to whatever you’ve organised, try to make an effort to discuss something other than babies! What’s going on in the big wide world?
I know, it sounds stupid. And it’s easier said than done, right? But when things get all too much, try to remember to take a deep breath and separate yourself from the situation.
Earlier today, I was trying to get both of our kids to each some form of lunch. They both weren’t having a bar of it. I’ve been trying to get them to both eat more, and eat better, all week and refusing to give in to their demands of “yoghurt!!!!!” (that and toast is all they’ll bloody eat at the moment!). I got so so frustrated, and so sick and tired, that I felt all the anger and frustration build up inside of me so much so that I might burst...
Instead of exploding I took a deep breath and walked around the corner where the kids couldn’t see me. I closed my eyes and realised that it wasn’t that bad. My anxiety was building their lack of eating up to something worse than it was. Being ‘stuck’ with the kids all day, little things can build and build and become MAJOR. It’s not until you get away that you realise how pretty insignificant it was. Yep, they really didn’t eat much. Whatever. They’ll catch up later today. I’m such a control freak!
Do something that makes YOU feel good.
Take some time, each day, to do something for yourself. A quick bit of stretching while the baby is napping. A swim. Some exercise (even if you can’t get to the gym, bust out some squats in the living room). A relaxing bath. A 10 min meditation (or just quietness with a good book).
Get the good endorphins flowing and you’ll be in a more positive mindset to tackle those tiny terrors ;) It’ll give you time to reflect and recharge a bit. I definitely do my best thinking when I’m swimming early in the morning or in the evening.
Go easy on the caffeine and alcohol
I know, both of these are ESSENTIAL to mum life! But, I find if I have too much of each my anxiety is ten times worse. I stick to one coffee a day, in the morning (which also means that, some days, come lunchtime when the kids are sleeping I can usually try to get in a sneaky 30 minute nap in between the work and tidying and cooking!). Any more than that and I'm super hyped up, shaky and anxious.
I find one or two wines at night is fine, but I'm a lightweight so any more than that has me fairly tipsy and not feeling the best the next day. I wake up tight in the chest, panicking about nothing in particular, on edge all the time and VERY short on patience.
Make non negotiables
I think resolutions and goals can be a bit too airy fairy. Instead, we've started making ‘non negotiables’ and they seem to be a bit more concrete.
What are you and your family going to do to ensure you’re all happy, healthy and connected?
For us, it’s a non negotiable that my husband gets home before 7pm every Wednesday, so he can see the kids before they go to bed.
We take it in turns to exercise at 6am in the mornings before he goes to work, so we’re both looking after our health and our mind frames (because when you feel good it helps with EVERYTHING else in life). Fruit or vege is a non negotiable at every meal, but we also refuse to feel guilty for letting loose a bit on the weekends or when Mum has just run out of inspiration and can’t be stuffed cooking (often, haha).
This year, we’re aiming for less screen time and more play. We have the best fun when we’re just together doing not much really. We don’t need fancy stuff. We just need each other. Slowing down and soaking it all up. Because our babes grow WAY too fast.
I hope this helps - as always, hit me up with any questions and best of luck slowing down, living each moment and kicking good old anxiety's butt mamas!