The five key contributors of self-care in maternal mental health:
Movement is likely to aid in self-regulation.
Self-regulation means having an influence over your emotional experience. Self-regulation skills can assist in managing more pervasive negative emotions. Activities that involve movement can be helpful. They provide one with a release for these emotions and also assist in processing and organising the persistent thoughts. Such activities don’t need to be done in isolation, but can be done with your children, such as going for a daily walk.
Mindfulness refers to developing the capacity to connect with our thoughts and feelings in ways that feel manageable and meaningful.
Mindful activities involve using our senses to engage us fully in an experience. This can include taking time for a bubble bath or a cup of coffee while focussing on your experience in the moment. There are great online applications such as Headspace which can help in navigating activities in a mindful way.
Investing time in the pursuit of personal areas of interest.
When faced with the challenges of motherhood, it is important to maintain as much balance as possible in your daily routine. This should include some time put aside for your own interests and hobbies. Any activity that you get lost in may assist in distracting you from the challenges you may be facing, giving you time to process how to best face them.
Checking in with yourself and normalising difficult and sometimes uncomfortable feelings.
Daily check-ins with yourself should become a priority. When one is aware of their emotional experience and the factors contributing to these feelings it is easier to manage and respond to these emotions in an effective manner. Journaling at the end of the day can assist with processing any experiences that may have unfolded. This improves one's self-awareness, which in turns facilitates more meaningful responsiveness and engagement with others.
Reaching out to your support system can provide you with the reassurance you need when experiencing difficult and uncomfortable emotions. This will also aid in challenging feelings of loneliness and isolation when struggling with the expectations of motherhood. It may also be useful to reach out to professionals when experiencing overwhelming negative emotions.
Are you due a break?
- Do you find it challenging to put yourself first?
- Do you fantasise about taking a break?
- Do you feel disconnected from yourself and your child?
- Do you find yourself zoning out?
- Have you normalised burnout and fatigue?
Whether you’re due quiet time, a spa treatment or a date with a friend, it’s important to honour your needs. And if you haven’t been feeling like yourself, it could point to a more severe problem. Reach out to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 0800 567 567