Overcoming Postpartum Anxiety

Inside: Symptoms, risk factors, and tips for managing postpartum anxiety.

When I had my first baby, I remember getting sent home from the hospital and thinking, “How in the world are we going to do this?” We had been in the hospital for 4 nights due to an emergency c section and some difficulty I was having with breastfeeding. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave! At the hospital, we had all of the experts helping us with feeding and making sure that our baby was ok. I remember getting into our car and my husband driving no more than 40 miles an hour on the highway, because we were both afraid we were going to break our little bundle of joy.

Then the challenges with feeding continued, and I was constantly second guessing myself as a mom. Despite having a background in children, I felt like I had no idea how to take care of a baby. Not to mention the fact that I’m a girl who likes her 9 hours of sleep so sleep deprivation felt devastating to me. What I didn’t realize was that I was experiencing more anxiety than what was normal for a new mom.

According to Postpartum Support International, about 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. This number is probably not completely accurate because many moms don’t know that what they’re experiencing is postpartum anxiety so like me, they may not seek help. Although this can be a debilitating illness, there is hope. Once a mom who is suffering from postpartum anxiety gets help, there is a great chance she can learn to overcome it with the right tools.

Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety

It can be hard to tell if what you’re feeling as a new mom is a natural response to having a baby. Most moms worry from time to time, especially those who are new at it. From worrying about if your baby is getting enough milk to how will you find time to do housework, there is plenty to worry about.

But when the worry becomes something that interferes with your ability to care for yourself or your baby, that’s when you might need to seek professional help. Other symptoms of postpartum anxiety are:

  • Constant worry that you can’t turn off.
  • Sleep and appetite disturbance.
  • Physical symptoms like nausea, hot flashes, heart pounding, dizziness.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Feeling like something bad is going to happen.

Risk Factors

There are some things that might make you more likely to experience postpartum anxiety than other moms. Some of those risk factors include:

  • Family history of anxiety.
  • Previous diagnosis of anxiety or other mood disorders.
  • A traumatic birth experience.
  • Lack of social or familial support.
  • Previous pregnancy loss or death of an infant.
  • Thyroid imbalance, diabetes, and other endocrine disorders.
  • Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding.
  • Financial strain.

Getting Help With Postpartum Anxiety

Asking for help can sometimes be the hardest part about recovering from any mental illness. Navigating the challenges of motherhood is hard enough, especially when you have an infant and are only getting a few hours of sleep a night. Not to mention the fact that you have to admit that you need help before you can ask. But as I’m sure you probably already know, you can’t be a good mom to your baby if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Even making small changes in your day can help you overcome anxiety. Here are a few places to start:

Get regular exercise:

This can even mean putting your baby in a stroller and going for a 15 minute walk. Your exercise routine may not look like it did before you had kids, and that’s ok. The point is to get some fresh air and get your body moving.

Practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness means staying in the present moment. Anxiety has a way of getting you caught up in regret about things you haven’t done or what might happen in the future. Doing things like taking just a few minutes to take a some deep breaths can help you refocus your thoughts to what’s going on right now.

The 5 senses exercises is another great way to help you focus on the here and now. The 5 senses exercise is thinking about 1 thing you can see, 1 thing you can hear, 1 thing you can feel, 1 thing you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. You can do this from anywhere and it only takes a few minutes. It’s a great way to help you get grounded.

If you have a little more time, like maybe when your baby is napping, yoga can be another great mindfulness tool. Yoga has many benefits for moms including relieving stress, making you stronger, and increasing your balance. You can read more about why I love yoga in my previous post, 5 Reasons Yoga is Crazy Good For Moms.

There are tons of great free yoga videos online that you can do from your own home. One of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene. She has a really soothing voice and offers different types of yoga to help with specific issues you may want to work on. Instagram is another good resource for finding yoga videos that you can do from anywhere.

Balanced Diet

Sometimes just finding time or remembering to eat can be a real struggle for moms. It’s easy to get so caught up in taking care of everyone else that you forget to feed yourself. But fueling our bodies with adequate nutrition is crucial to being the best version of ourselves. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals in order to function. Did you know that your body creates serotonin from carbohydrates? Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that influences many of your bodily functions, including your mood.

Keep some easy healthy snacks on hand so that you don’t have to think too hard about getting adequate nutrition. Snacks high in protein are the best for fueling your body and giving you a little boost until you can actually sit down for a meal. A few of my favorite go to snacks are: cheese sticks, yogurt, hummus or guacamole and carrot sticks, or a handful of almonds.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

If you’re a new mom, you may be thinking how am I supposed to get enough sleep when my baby doesn’t sleep longer than two hours at a time? This is a valid thought and your sleep is definitely going to be different now that you’re a mom. Even sleeping when the baby sleeps, may feel impossible to you because your sleep cycle is so off now that you’re up all hours of the night. But talk to your friends and family about how you can get some help to make sure you’re at least getting 6 hours a sleep at night, even if that time is broken into smaller chunks throughout the day.

Support from other moms

We’ve all heard the term “it takes a village to raise a child“. But until you become a mom, you probably don’t get what that really means. It means that it’s entirely impossible to do it on your own. Maybe you’re a single mom and you HAVE to do it on your own, but are you really doing ok? If you’re an introvert like me, the idea of meeting a mom at the playground and actually asking her to hang out probably seems like the last thing you want to do.

Luckily, there are groups out there who have made the getting to know you part a little easier. I joined a local moms club when my 2nd was only 6 weeks old, because getting out of the house was a must for us. Looking back now, I honestly don’t know how I would have survived without those moms. Now I consider some of them my best friends. When we moved last year, we even moved into a new home in the same neighborhood so we wouldn’t lose those connections.

If you live in a more rural area, one good thing that has come out of the pandemic is that now many of these groups meet virtually. So there really is something for everyone. PSI has a list of free support groups on their website and meetup.com is another good place to look if you aren’t sure what’s available in your area.

Seek professional help

If you’ve tried these things and still feel like you spend more time worrying than not, it may be time to seek professional help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been found to be very effective in treating postpartum anxiety as well as postpartum depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, helps you identify problematic thoughts that lead to unhelpful behavior. With a therapist you can learn to reframe those thoughts to positive thoughts and develop healthier habits or behaviors.

Some people need medication to give them the extra boost they need to manage their anxiety. Unfortunately there is a stigma about mental health and even more so about taking medication to manage it. Just because you take medication for anxiety or depression, it doesn’t mean that you are weak and it definitely doesn’t mean you are crazy! It may be something you only need temporarily and it can be like training wheels to help you use the coping skills you learn in therapy. No matter what getting help looks like for you, remember that this too shall pass.

If you’re in the state of Georgia, feel free to reach out to see if counseling with me would be a good fit!

5 Quick Tips To Help You Beat The Winter Blues

Many people notice a change in their mood during the winter months. You might experience an increased sadness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or a disruption in your sleep. It could be because the days are shorter and your time exposed to natural sunlight is significantly less this time of year. Add to that the colder weather and the fact that most of us spend less time outside in general. This can lead to our bodies producing more melatonin. The body naturally makes more melatonin when it’s dark. So, when the days are shorter and darker, more melatonin is made. More melatonin can cause a disruption in our circadian rhythm (or sleep cycle) making us more sleepy or lethargic. 

“Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” says Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at the National Institute of Health.

But when the change in seasons causes you to feel sad or unmotivated to the point that it interferes with your daily functioning, it may mean you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). SAD can also include anhedonia or the inability to enjoy things that you used to enjoy. The good news is that both the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder are treatable.

5 Tips For Beating The Winter Blues

Here are five things that you can do to beat the winter blues. Most of these things are free and easy to do.

1. Get Outside

Licensed psychologist Rachel Goldman, Phd says, “Being in the sunlight helps balance serotonin activity (the happiness chemical), balances your circadian rhythm (or sleep cycle), and increases vitamin D levels, which can all lead to an improved emotional state.”

As hard as it may be, getting outside during the winter months is crucial to staying balanced and avoiding the winter blues or SAD. So bundle up and go outside for a walk, even it’s just for 5 minutes. Once your body gets warmed up you more than likely won’t realize how cold it is.

If being outside isn’t an option light therapy- exposure to a special light for a certain amount of time each day may be helpful.

2. Check Your Vitamin D

Many people don’t get enough vitamins in their diet and vitamin d is one of the few that has been scientifically linked to mood. If you are not getting outside very often, you’ll also miss out on getting vitamin d naturally through sunlight. If you’re feeling depressed or a decrease in energy, you may be deficient in vitamin d. Consult with your medical professional to see if you need to take vitamin d supplements.

3. Stay Hydrated

Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water and our brains are actually made up of about 75%! We lose water throughout the day and it’s important to replenish our supply so that our bodies can function properly. Drinking water actually stimulates the hormones that produce endorphins- there are those happiness chemicals again.

4. Spend Time With Friends and Family

Being around others can significantly impact our mood. We all were born with an innate desire to be connected to others. Even if you’re feeling down and not in the mood to hang out with your friends or family, reach out to someone to let them know you’re having a hard time. Chances are they will want to help and will suggest something you can do to get out of your funk. My friends and I have a code word that we use to let the others know that we are having a hard time. They know that if I say I’m riding the struggle bus, that I need them to come over and drag me out of bed or to call my therapist.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a research based form of treatment that focuses on helping you understand your thoughts and behaviors and how they affect your mood. The cognitive part is about challenging your negative thinking patterns and learning how to flip the script in your brain to healthier more helpful thoughts. The behavioral component includes learning coping skills for your anxiety or depression that can help you move forward and live a happier life.

In a recent American Journal of Psychiatry study, researchers described a trial that compared the use of light therapy alone to a combination of light therapy and CBT. Results were positive in both groups; however, after one year, participants treated with CBT were faring much better than individuals treated with light therapy alone. Further analysis controlled for ongoing treatment still revealed that the CBT participants showed more improvement.

If you aren’t sure if what you’re experiencing is the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, seek help from a trained professional. I offer a free 10 minute phone conversation where we can discuss if working with me might be a good fit for you. Fill out the form below and I will reach out to schedule a time for us to chat. You can also check out www.psychologytoday.com to find a trained therapist in your area.

Navigating Maternal Mental Health

Did you know that 1 in 7 women experience either postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety after having a baby? The good news is that there is help. Before I started specializing in helping moms, I had no idea how prevalent postpartum depression and anxiety are. I also didn’t realize how many resources are available.

I know that as moms, we often put our own needs on the back burner because we’re busy taking care of our families. Sometimes even if you know something isn’t right, you might not know how to get the help you need. Not only is there a huge stigma attached to mental health and admitting that you need help, but it can also be overwhelming making it hard to know where to start.

Fighting The Stigma

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I had undiagnosed postpartum depression with my first child. My OBGYN actually prescribed an antidepressant when I went for my check up. I couldn’t stop crying and I had answered a few questions about how I was feeling. But at the time, I was so against taking medicine even as a therapist who was recommending it to her clients! I was just so afraid of how it would make me feel. I worried if it was ok to take while I was breastfeeding. After talking to some friends, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who thought being a mom was hard.

This made me feel better and I never took the prescription that I had filled. But after years of suffering and having multiple professionals recommend antidepressants, I finally agreed to try them. Through lots of trial and error, I’m finally happier than I have ever been. I just wish that I hadn’t waited so long to accept help.

It’s ok to not be ok, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Getting help doesn’t make you weak. It actually makes you stronger! If you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed to the point that you think it’s interfering with your ability to take care of yourself or your child, you may need to seek professional help. If you don’t know where to start, here are some websites to guide you through the process.

5 Maternal Mental Health Resources

1. Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Support International is full of resources for moms and their support systems. They have FREE online support groups as well as a helpline that you can call or text and someone will call you back to answer your questions or connect you with resources. They also have an online directory of qualified perinatal mental health providers so that you can easily find someone to help in your area.

2. Mother To Baby

Mother To Baby is an organization that is full of information about the safety of medications and other exposures during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It can be scary to think about whether or not it’s worth the risk to take medication for depression or anxiety while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But sometimes the risk far outweighs the cost of not getting help. Mother To Baby can answer your questions with expert, confidential, and no cost information via phone, text, email, or chat.

3. National Postpartum Depression Warmline- 1-800-PPD-MOMS

This is the toll free number that you can all to reach a volunteer at Postpartum Support International who will help connect you with resources for postpartum depression or anxiety in your area.

4. Psychology Today

Psychology Today is a free database of therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health providers. You can simply enter your zip code and search for professionals by name, zip code, or city. You can also read a brief description of the services each person offers and request an appointment from there.

5. Call Your Insurance Company or Healthcare Provider

Most doctors have some training in mental health and can complete an assessment to see if you might need specialized treatment for anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. Your OBGYN should be able to provide you with some referrals to psychiatrists or therapists in your area. You can also call the phone number on the back of your insurance card to request a list of referrals.

Other Resources For Moms

2020 Mom

2020 Mom is an organization that works to close the gaps in maternal mental health. They offer trainings for professionals and resources to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health.

Our aim was to shine a light on the problem, change the narrative from calling the range of disorders “postpartum depression” to “Maternal Mental Health Disorders” and identify the barriers and solutions.”

2020 Mom

You can become can become an ambassador for maternal mental health by doing good deeds to help raise awareness. Share your postpartum story to help other moms see that they aren’t alone and 2020 Mom may post it on their website.

Push Thru Podcast

The Push Thru Podcast is written by fellow maternal mental health therapist, Keisha Reaves. She talks about postpartum depression, her own postpartum story, and other challenges of motherhood. Keisha also has a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia where she specializes in treating moms. She has made it her mission to normalize therapy and assists women who are trying to conceive, have infertility issues, currently pregnant, adjusting to motherhood, dealing with postpartum depression or have experienced infant loss.

Running In Triangles

Running In Triangles is a blog written by two moms who are also sisters. Their goal is to help spread the message that motherhood isn’t a competition and there isn’t one perfect way to do it. They have lots of good resources on their website about motherhood from maternal mental health, to breastfeeding, and even gift guides.

The Blue Dot Project

The Blue Dot Project was created by Peggy O’Neil Nosti, a mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety with her third child who wanted to find a way to let other moms know they were not alone. Peggy created a subtle image of a blue dot and a silver lining to illustrate hope. 

The symbol was selected by the former National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health after one of its member organizations, Postpartum Support International hosted a contest to seek symbol ideas. The symbol is now being used in multiple ways to promote awareness and solidarity. 

You can help the Blue Dot Project by participating in their annual Blue Dot Run and join together in solidarity with other women to lift the stigma and shame surrounding maternal mental health.

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts is a book written by Karen Kleiman, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center. It’s filled with stigma busting cartoons that help moms validate their feelings, share their fears, and start feeling better. It’s a great resource for busy moms, their partners, and families.

Pickles & Ice Cream

Pickles & Ice Cream is a web platform dedicated to providing all the prenatal and postpartum information you need. It’s a place you can connect with other moms through message boards, gain valuable information about motherhood, and join their online groups or classes tailored to specific topics.

I hope these resources help you navigate the challenges of maternal mental health. If you want to talk to a licensed professional contact us to schedule a free consultation to see how we can help. Remember, you are not alone!

5 Strategies For Reducing Holiday Stress

The holiday season is officially here and with that comes our never-ending to-do lists leading to an increase in stress for most of us. Those who struggle with anxiety may be wondering how they are going to make it through the next month. Possibly, some of us are even feeling a sense of dread instead of the elusive holiday cheer.

If you’re someone who does feel anxious or more stressed this time of year, fear not. There is hope! There are many simple things you can do to help reduce your stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy spending the holidays with your loved ones.

5 TIPS FOR REDUCING HOLIDAY STRESS AND ANXIETY

1. Practice Mindfulness

To practice mindfulness means to increase your awareness of the present moment. It’s focusing on the here and now.

There are many ways to do this, but the simplest way is to breathe. Taking deep breaths helps you get enough oxygen into your body to help it function at its best. Without enough oxygen, stress can build up leading to physical ailments like heart problems, stomach aches, and trouble sleeping. If you can incorporate 5 minutes of deep breathing into your daily routine, you’ll more than likely notice a difference in your stress level after just a few days.

More Mindfulness Stategies:

  • yoga
  • listening to music
  • guided imagery
  • progressive relaxation
  • meditation
  • focus on your 5 senses

Check out The Mayo Clinic for more mindfulness exercises and how they can help you manage holiday stress.

2. Ask For Help

Most moms tend to struggle with this. I think it’s because society puts pressure on us to do it all and we’re afraid that we might look weak if we can’t. But that’s not true! As you’ve probably heard before,

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

That means that none of us can do it on our own. We just have to learn how to reach out for help without feeling guilty about it. In my experience, when I have asked my friends to help by grabbing something for me from the grocery store or watching my kids for an hour or two while I go to a Dr’s appointment, they have actually been more than willing to help.

Helping others actually makes people feel better about themselves and anyone who is a good friend will want to help you when they can. Plus you can return the favor and help them in the future.

3. Set Boundaries

During the holidays, it can be easy to fill up your social calendar almost every day of the week. Not only are there parties and family gatherings, but you may feel pressure to participate in every food drive or cookie exchange. There are also more community events this time of year like tree lightings and holiday programs at your church or school. Then you have to factor in the time it takes to get your holiday shopping done, write and send out cards, and decorate your home.

There just isn’t enough time to do everything! So we have to say “No” to some things. You may get pushback from family or friends if you decide not to send out holiday cards this year, but that’s ok. You can always send them out for New Years or try again next year to do them earlier when you have more time.

4. Take A Technology Break

We live in a society that expects us to be “on” 24/7. Not only do people want us to answer their texts and phone calls right away, but we’re also constantly being bombarded by new information on social media. Sometimes we just need a day or even a few hours to shut off our devices and unplug from it all.

I purposely leave my phone at home when I exercise because it’s usually the only time I can get a break. If I don’t do this occasionally I find myself getting easily overwhelmed, especially during the holidays. Another idea is to put your phone in another room and turn it on silent for a set amount of time. I know this can be really challenging, but I assure you the phone call or text can wait a few minutes.

5. Be Proactive

Building in time to your schedule for self-care is crucial this time of year, especially for those who struggle with anxiety. I suggest looking at your calendar at least once a week and finding time to exercise. Even if this means 15 minutes of yoga or going for a quick walk. I would even go as far as writing this time down in your calendar so that you are more likely to honor the commitment to yourself.

It’s also important to be aware of what you’re eating and drinking. Limiting your consumption of alcohol and sweets can be challenging with all of the parties and social gatherings this time of year. But having a plan for how you’re going to handle these situations ahead of time can be really helpful. Also, remember that it’s ok to say no even when it’s really tempting to give in. Practicing this with a friend or partner ahead of time can make these difficult situations a little easier to handle.

If you don’t have a support network to help, counseling is another great option for managing holiday stress! I’d be happy to help you figure out if it might be an appropriate time to seek counseling. I offer a free 10 minute phone consultation where we can determine if the services I provide would be a good fit.

You can contact me here to schedule your free consultation today.

From Surviving To Thriving

Being a mom during the pandemic has brought its challenges for all of us. But if we can stop to take a minute to think about what we have learned before we go back to the busyness of life we may realize that it hasn’t all been for nothing.

When looking back over the past year about what I’ve learned, I can see that I’ve grown so much. The pandemic has been a life-changing experience for me. If it weren’t for us being on lockdown last year I may have never gotten to the point of depression where I finally admitted that I needed to take medication. I don’t know if it was the potential for losing someone or if it was the anxiety about whether or not we would get Covid every time we left the house. But I do know that the pandemic triggered something in me that made me feel helpless and hopeless at times.

As hard as it is for me to share this I think people need to know. if you’re in a dark depression, more than likely you may not be aware of it. You may not be aware of the potential for happiness. You may not be aware of what you’ve been missing.

That’s why I think my story is worth sharing.

It’s worth the risk of people looking at me differently. It’s worth the risk of hearing people say “Why were you depressed? But you’re beautiful and you have two beautiful children!”

Because somewhere out there may be someone that isn’t aware of the life they could be living if they accept that they need help. I recently discovered that when you’re in survival mode your brain cannot scientifically process emotion in a healthy way. When you’re responding with a fight or flight response you’re not thinking the way you would if you were calm and balanced. That’s what medication can do for you. It can give you the strength and mental clarity that you need to get back on the right track. So that you can then work through your problems or the traumas that you’ve experienced in your past.

You could spend hundreds of dollars going to see a therapist learning all kinds of coping skills, but if your brain isn’t able to process that information it won’t do you that much good. If the part of your brain that controls your behavior can’t connect with the part that controls your thoughts then you’ll never be able to take the steps that you need to actually live a happier life. Luckily for me I’ve found a good combination of medication and therapy that has enabled me to do the work that I need to do. Now I can focus on learning the coping skills that I need to move through and enjoy life happily.

I asked a few of my mom blogger friends what they learned about themselves over the past year and this is what they had to say.

6 Mom Bloggers Share What They Learned During The Pandemic

Jasmyn of Just Jass

What 2020 taught me was that we shouldn’t keep waiting to pursue something that we have been wanting to do! So many people had told me to start a blog and it took me 6 months and a pandemic to finally hit the launch button!

I’m so glad that I did because my blog has already presented me with so many opportunities and I’m getting to do something I love which is writing! As a SAHM, it has given me something to do other than being a mom. This has ultimately made me a much happier person to be around!

Check out Jasmyn’s blog Just Jass for more about her journey as a stay at home mom as well as tips and tricks on pregnancy and newborns.

Kelly at Mini Mischief Managed

After lock down, I was just as disappointed as my kids that the summer would not include the events, play dates, and scheduled activities we had grown used to. I was ready for a break from being the main entertainment for a three year old and twin one year olds. I was ready to have some of my activities back where I would recharge from the time with them all day. 

When it was clear summer would look nothing like what we hoped, I did two things: 

First, I let go of having a schedule and planning to do certain things each day. We went with the flow of how we were feeling, what the weather was like, and what sounded like fun. It was hard not to have the social interaction I was used to, but also nice to take each hour and day at the pace we wanted, without always considering timelines.

Second, I knew I needed something that wasn’t 100% kid focused to spend time on. Many of my hobbies before kids did not translate well to having kids around due to materials involved, set up, and time required. I needed to find something new that could be done at home. As an avid reader, an unofficial bucket list item has always been to write a book someday. Writing a book fit all my above criteria.

In November 2020 I published my book, “15 Ways For New Moms To Manage Stress & Stay Sane”. This book became a way to document and remember many of the things I did every day as I parented three kids under age three for over a year. It was also a way to connect new moms navigating the parenting world with the help and social support we were used to getting at a time they didn’t have access to it.

The journey wasn’t easy, but I loved having a finished project to show for the time frame when the pandemic affected so much in our lives. As humans, we are resilient; and as moms, we are some of the best at adapting. The best way to start is mentally re-framing your situation to what you can accomplish, and go from there!

Thanks Kelly for sharing your insight. You can follow her and join her online community over at Mini Mischief Managed.

Natasha from Mamahood Mindset

My little boy was just 10 months old when the pandemic hit and we were thrown into our first lockdown. Little did we know it would be a year of repetitive lockdowns and restrictions. As a stay at home mum whose partner continued to go to work, it has been a tough time with lots of challenges.

But amongst the challenges of having nowhere to go, I have learnt so much about mindset and how it can have a huge impact on our day.

I have come to understand how an affirmation can change your beliefs on a subconscious level and therefore change how you feel about a situation. Affirmations have helped me deal with:

  • Dealing with feeling as though I never achieve anything in the day.
  • Helping with anxious thoughts.
  • Feeling as though I always need to be doing something
  • Fighting against mum guilt.

Gratitude has helped me to see the good that is in my life. To be thankful for where I am and what I have. It has helped to lift my mood and has left me feeling happy with where I am in life.

Lockdown has shown me so much about myself and has set me off on a mindset journey that I am still learning from and enjoying. It has changed the way I think and has made me stronger. It has also changed the direction of my blog, and following a re-brand all about mindset and self care.

Check out Natasha’s blog over at Mamahood Mindset to learn more!

Yasmin from Lovely_MommaLife

The pandemic has taught me that life shouldn’t have to revolve around work. I have come out of the past year as a stay at home mom. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on what I want from life. When I look back on my life, what will I be glad to have done?

For me, I don’t want to miss out on my daughter’s milestones and stages before she starts school. I feel like I would miss out on this by returning to work, because I was finishing as late as 6pm. By the time I would get back that would mean missing a whole day with my child. I’d have to settle her to bed and then do it all over again the next day.

I had a lot of time while furloughed and then on maternity leave to see how life would be. It helped me to come to the best decision for me. There is no right or wrong to whether anyone becomes a stay at home mom. I just know that there is the best decision for everyone. Only we can decide what that is. So many jobs require a lot of hours, then add the commute and it feels like your life has to revolve around work.

The pandemic allowed companies to have people working in a different way. To work from home and here in the UK, jobs are still having people work from home mostly. It shows that things could change. We don’t need to spend a lot of time working in a set place and having to commute each work day. Depending on the role, we can work from home. It is so nice that many people have been at home more with their families. I feel like this would be so beneficial if it could happen more, no matter how little the steps.

Being at home every step of the way so far with my daughter has been incredible. My daughter Birdie is 7 months old now and she loves getting plenty of interaction with those close to her. Nothing makes her happier more than just having me there, smiling and playing with her. The lockdown did impact her ability to adjust to others. Now that things have eased, it is valuable to bring Birdie to baby groups. To enjoy play dates with other babies and people. It’s such a special time.

Yasmin’s blog is Lovely_MommaLife. Make sure to head over there to read more about her life as a stay at home mom and for some tips on self love.

Robyn at A Dime Saved

I learned that so much of parenting is in the attitude. If you make it fun, then it is fun. Your kids don’t need camp or fun vacations- if you make something exciting, they will think it’s exciting.

Kids don’t care how stupid or silly an activity is. They care that you are trying to have fun with them. When our kids look back at this period, they will remember all the fun family activities we did with them. They will not forget that we were positive and focused on our family, even when there was so much that we couldn’t do. 

Creating positive memories for my kids- no matter the circumstances – is the most important thing to me. Not only is it fun, but it gives them a sense of security. No matter how crazy the world is- we can still have a good time as a family. 

Our kids can do without a lot of things if they need to. We think they need a lot of stuff and a lot of stimulation. But the fact is that if kids have a loving environment, then that is enough. 

Check out Robyns blog A Dime Saved for tons of fun activities that you can do with your family.

Subarna at The Mommys Corner

Indeed this pandemic has taught us a lot. Our lives have been changed. We all went through a tough situation but it has taught us many life lessons that we kept on ignoring earlier. By God’s grace, we are doing well and I am thankful for that.

In my life, there is a sunny side to this darkness. I launched my blog last summer and it is going to be 1 year old very soon. I was a web developer before being a stay-at-home mom and I always wished to have my little corner on this internet. So I fulfilled my dream and started my blog TheMommysCorner. We often give excuses that we don’t have much time to pursue our dreams but it’s not true. We have enough time, but we lack enough desire to pursue our dreams.

What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic? Have you stopped to think about it? If so, we’d love for you to share your experience in the comments.

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Living With Anxiety and Depression In Times Of Extreme Uncertainty

It’s Ok To Admit Defeat

Ok so I know that phrase, “It’s ok to not be ok” is trending, but what does it really mean? For me, it means that it’s ok to admit that I can’t do it alone anymore. It’s ok for me to get help with depression and anxiety. The more I talk about it, the more I realize how many other moms with depression and anxiety there are.

I’ve struggled off and on with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably already know this. It wasn’t until the past few years, that I accepted that it’s ok to admit it though. I spent so many years wanting to help others escape the pain of depression and anxiety, but I didn’t fully face my own issues until recently.

What that looked like for me was admitting that even though I had a Master’s degree in counseling, it was still ok to need counseling myself. For so many years, I found excuses for avoiding it. I have probably made every excuse in the book.

My Excuses Were:

It costs too much.

What if someone finds out?

There aren’t any counselors that I don’t already know.

What if they think I’m crazy?

I don’t have enough time.

What if I don’t like them?

I don’t need to pay someone to tell me to do what I already know I need to do.

But let me tell you this, now that I have found a counselor that I really like and the right combination of medicine, my only regret is not starting it sooner. A friend recently said that she wished when she had her first child that someone had pushed her a little harder to start antidepressant medication. Now that she’s on it, she can see how much it’s helping her.

Another friend said that once she started taking anti-depressants she thought, “Wow, is this how good everyone else feels? I had no idea how depressed I was before!”

Moms with depression can feel too overwhelmed to get help.

I know how hard it is to get yourself out of bed some days. Making yourself go through the motions to get your kids to school and make sure your house doesn’t burn down can be exhausting to any mom. Add depression to the mix, and it can feel almost impossible. So I get why reaching out for help can be the last thing you want to do. I promise it will be worth it.

Depression and anxiety can also make you think you’re a bad mom. If you’re already feeling worthless and hopeless, having kids who seem to never be satisfied can make you feel like you’re never enough. For some strange reason, there is a societal pressure to be super mom. We’re expected to get up at 5 am just so we can shower, wash our hair, put on a fresh face, pack our kids organic lunches, and send them off to school with bows in their hair and a smile.

If you struggle with anxiety, you already know that you second guess every decision you make. If you don’t you probably spend alot of your time comparing yourself to every other mom, wondering if you’re doing a good enough job. But I promise you, if you are keeping your kids fed and dressed (even if that means they wear pjs all day while doing virtual school), you are enough! If you’re feeling like you just can’t do it anymore though, that’s ok too.

Just because it’s ok to feel that way, to not feel ok or like you can’t provide your kids their basic needs anymore, doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Learn from my mistakes and admit defeat before you spend one more day suffering.

Reach Out For Help

If you don’t know where to begin, just try. Call your mom or call your best friend and tell them that you’re riding the struggle bus. I promise you that you are not alone.

The more you talk about how hard being a mom is, the more you will find that you aren’t the only one who struggles.

Here are 10 celebrity moms with depression that you probably didn’t even know struggled!

I’m not saying that you have to go see a counselor or take medication if motherhood feels like a struggle to you. There’s no mom out there who hasn’t struggled at some point since becoming a mom.

What I am saying though is if you are at the point where you just can’t do it anymore, it’s ok. It’s ok to not be ok, but that doesn’t mean you have to not be ok forever.

tip for moms with depression

Sometimes it’s hard to know if what you’re feeling is the sadness that everyone experiences at some point or if what you’re feeling is depression.

Healthline lists the following 8 symptoms that might help you decide if it’s time to get help:

Possible Signs of Depression:

  1. Hopeless outlook
  2. Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  3. Increased fatigue and sleep problems
  4. Anxiety
  5. Irritability
  6. Changes in appetite and weight
  7. Uncontrollable emotions
  8. Thinking about death more often

If you’re unsure, it doesn’t hurt to reach out for help either way. Even if the sadness or other emotions you’re feeling are not depression, it’s still ok to talk to a therapist. Or find a friend that you can share how you’re feeling with. If you don’t have a friend that you feel comfortable talking to, I’m always here to listen!

Make sure to share this post with other moms with depression and anxiety so they can see that they aren’t alone!

Pinterest 8 signs you may need help with depression sad mom and daughter trying to console her

The Rise Of Anxiety In Kids

You might not be surprised to hear that the rate of people who are experiencing anxiety has increased over the past year. It’s not hard to imagine why this would be the case given the uncertainty we’ve all been facing.

What I hadn’t considered is how much it has affected our children. The National Center for Biotechnology Information recently published a study conducted in China. The study showed symptoms of anxiety in kids increasing by 15.79% from 2019 to 2020.

Even though kids are less likely to get COVID they are still feeling the stress of it, like the rest of us. I do believe that kids are resilient, but I also think they’re feeling anxious more than we realize.

When I heard this, I started thinking about some of the challenges we’ve been facing in our house.

Sleep Regression

For example, my son has been waking up in the middle of the night more often over the past few months. He comes in our bedroom saying that he’s scared and ends up sleeping with us. While this could be attributed to a number of things, part of me wonders if it’s related to the pandemic. He’s also regressed a little bit and gone back to showing some symptoms of separation anxiety.

He doesn’t want to go upstairs in our house without an adult. Some separation anxiety is typical for young kids, but he had kind of grown out of that before the pandemic.

He used to feel comfortable going anywhere in our house as long as his older brother was with him.  Now he waits on the stairs for me to go with him even to grab something from his bedroom.

Using Art To Talk About Feelings

As a former play therapist, I’m always thinking about ways to get my kids to use art or play to show me what they’re feeling. When I recently attended a training on childhood anxiety, I was reminded about how kids need things to be tangible.  They don’t always have the language developed yet to tell you how they’re feeling. So giving them a way to show you what they’re thinking or feeling gives them what they need to communicate that with you.

When I asked my son the other day to tell me why he didn’t want to go in the bathroom without me, he said it was because he was afraid of monsters.  Instead of saying, “But you know monsters aren’t real,” I asked him to tell me more about it.

He wasn’t really able to tell me what the monster looked like, but I could tell he was trying to describe it. He paused for a moment and said that it was hard to describe. Then about 5 minutes later, he told me that it wasn’t a monster it was a bug.

I asked him if he could draw a picture of it, but he said he didn’t want to. I didn’t push him too hard, because I knew that wouldn’t help. So we talked about how he knows Taekwondo and he can fight any monsters that come around.

I also reminded him that if there are any bugs in our house, they are probably going to be tiny and he’s so much bigger than them. He kept asking me questions about bugs over the next few days. Anytime he did I answered them of course. The cool thing that happened was he slept through the night for a few days.

I also asked my other son to draw a picture of something he worries about. He doesn’t want me to share his picture, and I’m going to respect that. I was surprised to find out what he drew though and was able to give him some reassurance.

Name It To Tame It

What I’ve learned about anxiety is that talking about it doesn’t make it worse. In order to learn to manage it, you have to understand what’s causing it. That means figuring out what is causing the fear or worry, and then learning how to cope with it.

Prior to going back to school in October, my kids had been at home with me all day every day for 7 months. We weren’t really going anywhere and spending much time with friends. So naturally, they were more comfortable at home with me. It would be normal for going back to school face to face to trigger some anxiety for them.

The New Normal

Then when they did go back to school in October, there were all these new rules. Changes had to be made to keep everyone safe and school doesn’t look like it used to. Their old routines have been disrupted. Now they have to wear masks and sit further apart from their friends. Some of their friends aren’t even in the building!

My kids told me about a really cool game they play at recess where they use a pool noodle for tag. Instead of tagging each other, they touch them with a pool noodle. Even though this isn’t a negative thing, it’s still something different that they have to adjust to. They’re also only allowed to play with kids in their class at recess in a certain section of the playground. Every other year, they could play wherever they wanted and with kids from other classes in their grade.

To make matters worse, my kids have heard the grown-ups in their life talking about COVID and how many people have gotten it. Despite how much we’ve tried to protect them from the bad news, I’m sure they have overheard us talking about it.

The more you think about it, the more obvious it is why kids are more anxious.

We also have to remember how literal kids’ thinking is. It’s very black and white. So if your child hears you talking about how many people have died from COVID, it wouldn’t be unusual for them to automatically think their parents might die if they get it.

This is another reason why we need to be careful about what we say in front of our kids. I’ve tried really hard to remind my kids that even if mommy or daddy get COVID, we’ll probably just get sick. We’re healthy and we don’t have any pre-existing health conditions. But it’s not that easy for kids to make that connection if you don’t reassure them.

My Anxiety Monster

I also did the art activity that I referenced earl myself. I was surprised what came to my mind when I started drawing my anxiety monster. What I thought of when I was drawing it is how stressed and tired my anxiety makes me feel sometimes.

I started drawing my monster to be an old person with crazy hair, but then had a memory about when I was a kid and watched the movie Signs. There’s a scene in that movie where an alien crosses across the screen briefly. That part always freaked me out!

My anxiety looks like a green alien with his hands in the air

I think that drawing my anxiety monster brought out some fears that I have been trying to avoid thinking about for a long time! When I was a kid, I remember being afraid that aliens would come and abduct me in my sleep. Luckily I no longer have that fear, but apparently it’s still something that comes up for me sometimes!

The uncertainty and constant changes we’ve been facing over the past year have led to added stress for all of us. Some people may be better at hiding it than others, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been affected in one way or another.

I’ve personally been pretty proud of how well my kids have adjusted and adapted to all this uncertainty! Our school has gone back and forth from virtual school to in-person multiple times this year. Some weeks that change has come unexpectedly, and everyone has had to quickly adjust.

Thank goodness kids are resilient.

At the same time, that constant need to adapt and change their routine has been hard on them! So no wonder the rate of childhood anxiety is going up.

The good news is that there is hope. Taking time to talk to your kids about how they feel and empowering them to cope with their fears can help.

Strategies for managing anxiety in kids

Strategies For Managing Anxiety In Kids

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Books

There are tons of books that can help you start a conversation with your child about what’s causing their anxiety. Here are a few of my favorite:

My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain

Penelope Perfect by Shannon Anderson

Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Worry Says What by Allison Edwards

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

Workbooks

These are great workbooks for parents to do at home with their kids.

  • Worry Wars: An Anxiety Workbook for Kids and Their Special Adult by Paris Goodyear Brown

  • What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kids Guide To Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner

Art Activities

  • Worry Stone: When my son was having issues with anxiety about going to school last year his school counselor gave him a strategy that really helped him! She gave him a worry stone that he kept in his pocket and could hold when he was starting to get upset. He carried it everywhere and it really helped him a lot!
  • Worry Pet: Here’s a really cool similar strategy. If you’re feeling crafty, you and your child can make a worry pet. They can use take it to school to remind them to use their calm down strategies when they’re feeling anxious. It also helps them know that they have something friendly in their bag in case they need it.
  • Homemade Play Doh: You can make play doh with your kids and add soothing essential oils like lavender. Playing with play doh is a great way to pound out your frustrations or stress! Here’s one recipe for Calming Homemade Playdough by Brandi Brown.
  • Worry Worms– This is a great way for your child to tell you about what their worries are without even realizing it. It’s adapted from Paris Goodyear Brown’s book Worry Wars and an activity I used often with my play therapy clients. All you have to do is make worms out of construction paper and hide them around your house. Every time your child finds a worm, they have to tell you something they worry about. It’s an easy way to get the conversation about anxiety going with your child.

Mindfulness Activities

  • Here are 40+ Mindfulness Activities by fellow mom blogger Alice at Mommy to Mom. She breaks them down by age and even has some ideas for teaching mindfulness to your babies!
  • We love doing Cosmic Kids Yoga on Youtube. There are some really fun videos like Pokemon,  Minecraft, and Harry Potter that are great for little boys. They have tons of different ones for every age and interest though.
  • Calm Down Glitter Jar: This article from Kumarah Yoga teaches you how to make a calm down glitter jar. Depending on how flexible their teacher is, this is another strategy that your child could use a school.

Hopefully these strategies will help you and your child manage anxiety better. I have a few more strategies included in my previous post 8 Tips for Helping Kids with Back to School Anxiety.

If your child is experiencing anxiety or worry to the point where you feel like it’s beyond something you can help them with please make sure to seek professional help.

If you’re unsure if your child is anxious, here are a few common symptoms of anxiety in kids to look out for:

  1. Difficulty sleeping or frequently waking up in the middle of the night (after already sleeping through the night).
  2. Frequent stomach aches without an underlying medical reason.
  3. Clinginess to parents or becoming really upset when having to separate from caregiver.
  4. Explosive outbursts- this can sometimes be misinterpreted as misbehavior.
  5. Difficulty sitting still and/or constantly fidgeting.

These aren’t the only indicators that a child is anxious. Sometimes it can be hard to know if a child is struggling because many of the symptoms above can also be normal depending on their stage of development. Check out this article on Child Mind Institute for their advice on when to worry about an anxious child.

Calling your child’s pediatrician is always a great place to start. You can also find a registered play therapist on the Association For Play Therapy’s website here.

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8 Things To Say To Someone Who Is Depressed

If you’ve never actually been depressed yourself, it can be hard to know the right thing to say to someone else who’s going through it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

Sometimes when I go through periods of depression everything just feels so hard. It can be a struggle to do little things, like going to the grocery store to buy a carton of milk. Every little thing can feel so overwhelming and huge. Sometimes when my depression gets really bad, all I want to do is sleep. This can go on for days. Fortunately though, or maybe unfortunately- when I get like this I know it’s going to get better, because I’ve been through it before.

Hope Shines Brightest In The Darkness

It’s not always easy, but I can usually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it feels so far away and sometimes it does take time to get there. I’m not sure how much easier that really makes it, but it does give me a small amount of hope. And when my depression gets really bad, any tiny little bit of hope is enough to get me through to the next day.

Offering hope is important when someone is depressed

I was going through a dark period like this last week. I’m not sure what exactly it was that helped me climb out of it, but I did. Maybe it was buying myself a really expensive pillow, or maybe it was going for a run on a beautiful day by the river. It could have been the friend I reached out to who said what I really needed to hear. Maybe it was the fact that I was able to get an appointment to see a psychiatrist so that I can hopefully get on the right medication. I’m sure it was actually a combination of all these things, but after I reached out to that one friend it felt like a turning point for me.

She was the cheerleader that I needed to get me out of my funk. 

I’ve noticed how hard these episodes of depression can be on my family. And I can see how helpless they feel when they don’t know what else to do to help and they don’t feel like they know the right words to say. I’m sure other people feel the same, so I wanted to share some things that people have said that helped me. So that you can be the cheerleader that your loved one needs the next time they’re struggling.

8 THINGS TO SAY TO HELP WHEN SOMEONE IS DEPRESSED

1. It’s going to be ok.

2. I may not understand, but I’m here for you.

3. You are not alone.

Depression can feel SO isolating, but knowing that you don’t have to go through it alone can make a huge difference.

4. You matter to me.

5. Let’s go for a walk.

Get them out of the house. Being stuck inside is not good for someone who is depressed. 

6. You are strong enough to get through this.

7. Even though you’re going through this, you are still a good mom.

Mom guilt is bad enough on a regular day, but when you’re depressed you feel like you’re not good enough. You get into a spiral of negative thinking and then of course you feel like a horrible mom. Check out my previous post here for some tips on getting through mom guilt.

8. It’s ok to not be ok.

These are some of the things you can say to help someone who is depressed. But in the end, showing that you care is what matters most.

If someone you know is struggling with depression, help them get the help they need. They don’t have to suffer! Psychology Today is a great resource for finding therapists in your area or they can always talk to their primary care doctor.

Maybe there’s someone you know who you think might be depressed, but you’re not really sure. Here are a few signs and symptoms of depression that might help you decide whether or not you should talk to them about it.

COMMON SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

  • They stop wanting to hang out as much as usual.
  • Avoiding your calls or texts.
  • Frequently canceling plans.
  • Their mind seems to be somewhere else.
  • Constantly focusing on the negative.
  • Having a hard time getting things done at work, school, or around the house.
  • Has lost interest in doing things they normally do.
  • Doesn’t want to get out of bed and/or thinks about going back to bed when they wake up in the morning.
  • Headaches and muscle pain or other physical symptoms without a medical reason.
  • Sudden weight loss or gain.

Here’s an anxiety and depression checklist that might help you decide if you should be concerned. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) also has great resources including free online support groups.

If you’ve ever struggled with depression, what’s something that someone said that helped you?

pinterest 8 things to say when someone is depressed

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Finding Joy In The Chaos

Finding joy during the chaos of the holidays can be almost impossible sometimes. It’s easy to get so caught up in your to-do list that you forget the reason you’re celebrating in the first place. 

The song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has been playing on repeat in my head. It’s kind of like a slap in the face at times, because there’s a chance this year it really will be just me celebrating by myself. If we’re lucky, we may get to spend time with our immediate family, but it will be a little different. We won’t give each other hugs, and we’ll try to keep 6 feet apart.

There’s also a chance that I’ll be in quarantine in my bedroom if the COVID test I took on Friday comes back positive. It’s more than likely just a bad sinus infection for me, but there’s always that fear that I’ve got the virus.

Since so many other people are in the same boat, the testing sites are overcrowded with multiple hour waits. And test results that might normally be back in 3 days are taking 5. So my anxiety is a little bit ramped up right now. 

Remember last year when I wrote about Managing Holiday Stress? Well on top of all the usual chaos of the holidays, this year we all get to add in more things to worry about. 

For me the added stress is questioning: 

  • Do I have COVID or is it just a bad cold? 
  • Should we get together with our families?
  • If we do see our families for the holidays, what does that look like?
  • Should we order dinner so that we don’t have to worry about making everything and then having to change our plans at the last minute? 
  • Is it safe to travel across state lines?
  • What about that one relative who doesn’t believe in wearing masks, are we going to take the risk and see them?

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that stress levels are at an all time high for us all.

Despite these things, I truly believe it’s still possible to have a Merry Christmas this year.
A few nights ago I watched the cheesy “chic flick” as my hubby likes to call them, “The Secret: Dare To Dream.” This movie is based on the book “The Secret'”, by Rhonda Byrne. 

The book is about the idea of positive thinking and how each of us has the ability to impact the outcome of our lives with our thoughts. It was a good reminder to me that life really is what you make it. It may seem cliche or hoaky poaky to some of you, but I think that if you believe something in your heart, you really can influence the way that your life turns out.

thinking positively despite others negativity

The thing is, it’s all about perception.

Let me give you an example. I have two boys who are close to the same age (6 and 8). One of them seems to approach most things in life with a glass-half-empty point of view and the other is usually a little more optimistic. 

I told a friend the other day that my oldest is my emo kid. My other son is super laid back and easy going. So when we deliver bad news to both of them, it seems like the older one immediately gets upset and starts to think the worst. The younger one, often responds with things like, “That’s ok. We can still have fun!” 

A change in plans.

We found out last week that my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids won’t be able to come for Christmas this year due to increased COVID cases where we live and potential exposures within our immediate family. We’ve been looking forward to them coming for a few months. We were all optimistic that if we were extra careful, and stayed home the weeks leading up to the holidays they would be able to make it. But sometimes the best laid plans fall to pieces. Understandably, they decided that it’s too risky to travel from Texas to Georgia given everything going on. 

I waited to tell my kids because I knew they would be disappointed. Plus the day I found out they weren’t coming was also the day of their holiday parties at school. They were super excited about being off for the Winter Break and I didn’t want to ruin that. 

The next day, my oldest must have heard our conversations and figured out what was going on. Either that or he put two and two together when playdates started getting canceled, school had to switch to virtual learning, and we started avoiding playgrounds if there were any other kids there. 

So he asked me if his cousins were still coming for Christmas. I had to tell him the truth and give him the bad news. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. So I gave him permission to be sad. I told him I was disappointed too, but told him that it just wasn’t safe to travel right now. He stormed off to his room and started crying. When I went in to talk to him, he said, “This is the worst day of my life!”

Staying Optimistic

My 6 year old walked in a few minutes later and asked what was wrong. I explained that his cousins weren’t going to be able to come for Christmas and his response was, “Oh….Hey mom can you read me a book?” Then he tried to console his brother and said something about how we could still do other fun stuff right? 

Both of my kids had valid responses to the situation and were disappointed, but one reacted with a more positive outlook than the other. Just like moms can also choose how to react to the chaos they may be experiencing right now- The chaos caused by all the uncertainty and fear that we’re facing. 

You can choose to react with sadness, disappointment, and anger. You can choose to get angry about your circumstances and blame others for why things aren’t going the way you hoped. 

Or you can choose joy.

Pinterest image that says finding joy in the chaos

You can celebrate the small things that are going right for your family. Celebrate that you can be together.

Find something small to be thankful for in each moment. It could be that you have food to eat for Christmas dinner. Even if it’s not the usual 5-course meal with all of your relatives. Maybe you can think of the bright side that you and your kids have more time to spend with each other this year rather than traveling from place to place to spend time with all the different sides of your family. 

If you decide to see your family, you can be thankful that you get to spend the holidays with them. And you can celebrate the fact that you’re healthy enough to be together.  

Moms, you can still make the holidays bright for your family this year, no matter what your individual circumstances are. Sometimes it’s hard to see the light in all the darkness, but if you take time to open your eyes you will. It’s there! 

Moving Forward

On that note, I’m going to be taking a few weeks off to reflect on 2020. As much as I just want to forget about this year altogether, it will be good to reflect on the good and the bad. How can I learn from my mistakes and parts of my life I want to improve if I don’t acknowledge them? 

I’m not going to dwell on the past too much though. Since there was so much to be sad about this year, it will be more fun to focus on the future. 

We’re all hoping that 2021 will be a better year. I think it’s looking like that’s entirely possible. Yes, I know the virus isn’t going away, but I have hope. I AM trying to put out positive thoughts that I want for 2021, remember?

What will you focus on this holiday season as we get ready to start a new year? Share in the comments how you’re going to celebrate joy and what you have to be merry about this holiday season. 

Get “The Secret” on Amazon here:the cover of the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne

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Living With Anxiety and Depression In Times of Extreme Uncertainty

My journey as a mom has been like a rollercoaster ride.

I’m happy to say that right now I feel like I’m coming to a smooth part of the ride. The part that’s after the thrill where you can sit back and enjoy the adrenaline high. The part where you don’t want it to end, but you know you’ll have to get off soon.

You might be wondering how this could be possible when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Our world is filled with so much uncertainty, yet I’m feeling so good.

Back in March, this was definitely not the case. When quarantine started I was feeling ok. My 5-year-old had just broken his arm and needed surgery. We were stuck at home and I was forced to homeschool my kids.

My daily routine of getting up at 6:30, taking the kids to school, coming home to make a nice breakfast, going for a run or to a class at the gym, spending a few hours writing, cleaning up, and doing some laundry had all been thrown out the window.

I wasn’t even going to the grocery store anymore. I’d lost my girls’ nights out and couldn’t’ see my friends at playgroups or PTA meetings.

Despite all of this, I was still surviving and remained optimistic. I was getting my runs in when I could, but they slowly turned into walks.

Taking A Turn For The Worse

At some point, I started to have less energy. I’d drag myself out of bed in the morning, but I immediately couldn’t stop thinking about how good it would feel to go back to bed later that day.

mom struggling with anxiety and depression

I had no interest in playing with my kids. As the weeks went by, I was still going for my walks, but the whole time I was out walking I’d dread having to go back home.

I kept hearing from other moms and parenting experts that I needed to find a routine. They were saying that it would help us get through virtual learning and would help me feel better. I just didn’t have the energy to do it.

Then I started to dread everything. It felt like there’d never be anything to look forward to again. I felt so hopeless. I’m not going to say I lost hope, but I could see how some people in my situation could have.

Even though I had people all around me telling me how much they loved me, I just felt so sad.

Luckily, I had started going to a therapist right before all of this happened. So I had already built a relationship with her.

She had mentioned medication a few times in January when we first met. But I told her it wasn’t something I wanted to try. I’d tried medication before and didn’t like the way it made me feel.

As a good therapist should, she persisted. Finally one day, she pointed out that taking medication would be like giving me training wheels. It could help give me just enough motivation and energy to use the tools we were practicing during therapy.

How One Phone Call Can Mean So Much

Then a good friend called me. She’d noticed that I wasn’t the same and told me about her experience with medication. She told me how much it had helped her and gave me the name of her doctor.

I was able to get in the same week, and was started on an antidepressant right away. After just a few days, I started to have energy again. Then after a few weeks of taking it, I felt like another person.

During my therapy sessions, I started noticing myself falling into negative or anxious thought patterns again. This time my reaction was different though. I noticed when I was doing it and was able to stop myself. It finally dawned on me how that is the whole point of going to counseling!

There’s no magic pill that will solve all your problems. Taking medication was life-changing for me though.

Fighting The Resistance

It’s not easy to share my story with the world. But I know how long I resisted taking medications and how much it ended up helping me once I finally gave it another try. The only regret I have now is that I didn’t try it sooner.

Over the past few days, I’ve been hearing story after story of other moms struggling. I realized that if I let my fear of being vulnerable stop me from sharing, then I may be missing out on helping someone who really needs to hear that they aren’t alone.

 

Moms are struggling now more than ever! Experts agree that coronavirus is taking a larger toll on women, especially moms.

On top of all our regular motherly duties we are juggling virtual learning, keeping our kids’ safe, making sure the masks are always clean, and trying to figure out a way to maintain a socially distant social life.

I don’t know what I would have done without my husband a few months ago. Not only did he remind me that my family needed me, but he took on many of the household tasks I usually did.

I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been if I was working a full-time job on top of everything else.

It may seem like it’s easy for someone like me who is a former therapist to say how much it can help. But I’ve seen so many different counselors over the years, and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I really felt like it was helping.

Moving Forward

Part of that could be that it wasn’t the right fit. Or maybe I wasn’t doing the homework that I needed to really change. But I think this time, the medication really did give me the extra boost that I needed to move forward.

I’m not going to say that I’m completely cured. Medication isn’t the end all be all. There will still be hard days. Especially right now, with a pandemic that isn’t going away anytime soon.

My kids are going to be little for a while and are going to be needy. My free time will be limited and there will be other bumps and turns on the roller coaster along the way. There may even be times where the ride malfunctions and I’ll have to call for back up.

At least now I have this period where I’m feeling good to look back on. If I do start to spiral again, I’ll know that there is hope. I’ll be able to really say to myself this too shall pass and believe it.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. Even if you’ve tried getting help before and it didn’t seem to work. Try again!

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