New mom- Discover The 10 Best Mental Health Strategies
New mom embarking on the journey of motherhood is an extraordinary experience, filled with boundless joy and newfound responsibilities. Amid the joyous moments, new moms must prioritize their mental well-being.
In this discussion, we’ll explore ten indispensable strategies designed to empower and support the mental health of new mothers. From self-care rituals to fostering a supportive community, these actionable tips aim to guide and inspire moms as they navigate the beautiful and challenging landscape of motherhood.“‘
New mom strategies list:
1. Ditch social media for real life
Those early days (and nights) of endless feedings, rocking and pacing the halls trying to soothe your newborn, set the perfect stage for losing yourself in social media. Before you know it, baby is asleep in your arms and you’re still scrolling. While social media can fill an important need for new moms—providing community and support no matter the time or location—it can also have a negative impact.
Over-reliance on social media can make it seem as if there isn’t a need for in-person support as well. And while the convenience of online communities can make it easier to reach out for help at times, there is tremendous value in face-to-face social interaction—especially with other mom friends.
Particularly for new moms, having another adult you can spend time with in person can go a long way toward decreasing the sense of isolation that often comes along with this period in life. Whether it’s having a friend over for a playdate, or your mom tagging along while you run errands, few things are as good for the mental health of new moms as quality time in the presence of supportive others.
In addition to the risk of decreasing real-life social interaction, social media overloading can also expose moms to harsh, judgmental behavior that can be quite damaging. The anonymity of social media can cause people to say things they would never say to another mom in real life. Responses to a post about ideas for how to help your newborn sleep are often filled with criticisms of the way the poster is raising their child. This is never helpful, but it is particularly damaging for new moms who have not yet developed much confidence in their mothering.
2. Change up your to-do list
To-do lists can be a mom’s best friend. With so many things to get done and so much swirling around in your head, combined with a nice dose of sleep deprivation, it would be easy to forget tasks otherwise. But a traditional to-do list is not always the best fit.
Generally, these lists have tasks assigned to particular days. Tuesday is the grocery store, post office, and laundry. Wednesday is an oil change and vacuuming.
The problem is that life for a new mom is not predictable enough to determine ahead of time how much can reasonably be accomplished in a day. A rough night or particularly clingy baby can quickly turn a to-do list into a reminder of how much didn’t get done that day. This can cause unnecessary stress, feelings of inadequacy, and frustration.
So what to do instead? Change your conceptualization of the to-do list. Instead of being one list that contains all of your must-do tasks, break it into two lists:
One list contains your daily required tasks: Things that absolutely must get done on a specific day—picking someone up from the airport, taking the dog to a vet appointment—and going there.
The other list is a running, prioritized list of other things that need to get done, but have some flexibility on when exactly they happen.
On any given day, you will now know what must happen, and then you can decide what to pluck from the second list based on how your day is going.
Some days you may not be able to take anything off that second list, and that’s fine. On other days you may get more done than you could have imagined you’d have time for, and that’s fine too.
The main point is your to-do list is now flexible and lines up with the reality of your day, rather than being rigid and causing distress when things don’t happen as planned. New motherhood is all about learning to roll with it.
3. Trust your intuition
Studies have confirmed that intuition is not all in our head; it is a real thing. Intuition is essentially all of the things we know without knowing how we know them. And for moms, it can be a powerful force in our decision-making process.
When we try to fight it or discount it, telling ourselves to ignore those feelings and concerns, not only do we cause undue stress trying to suppress something that is coming up automatically, but we potentially miss out on valuable information.
Now I’m not saying to trust your intuition over advice or information from medical professionals, but I am saying to start valuing your knowledge of your baby and trust your maternal expertise.
4. Forget the snap-back
There are so many pressures new mom face, and bouncing back from pregnancy in a matter of weeks is one of the big ones.
Rather than spending the postpartum period focusing on rest, recovery, and bonding with our new baby, we are told to start the countdown until we fit back into our pre-pregnancy jeans. And when we find that it doesn’t happen quickly, we are frustrated and disappointed in ourselves. We view it as a lack of discipline or a sign that we’re forever doomed to a “mom bod.”
So yes, prioritize movement when you can and keep up with health-promoting foods that keep your energy levels up to meet the physical demands of motherhood. But stop wasting time and energy focused on this unrealistic idea that your new self is inferior to your old one. It’s new and different, and that is OK.
5. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And he could not have been more correct when it comes to moms. Any time I’m feeling pretty good about my mom’s skills, a quick scroll through Instagram can bring me right back down.
Her house is way cleaner, she’s doing a better job than me. Her kids get along so well, she’s doing a better job than me. Her hair and makeup are done, she’s doing a better job than me.
While we may logically know that most people carefully choose and filter what they share on social media, we still find ourselves engaged in negative comparisons that can result in anxiety, depression, and lots of self-criticism.
Although this happens most frequently on social media, we can easily fall into the comparison trap in real life as well. Other moms at the park who seem to be managing their children better or women who look more put together at Target can all start that comparison cycle going in our heads.
When you notice this happening, I suggest taking a deep breath and telling yourself that you don’t know the full story based solely on outward appearances. Things are always more nuanced than they seem. And remember: YOU are the mom your children need. Perceived flaws and all.
6. Stop comparing your baby to other babies
Just like every mom is different and excels in different parts of motherhood, every baby is unique. Yes, your friend’s baby may be sleeping through the night already, but yours is doing way better with solids.
Or yes, your cousin’s 8-month-old is walking but has yet to take an independent nap. Keeping this all in perspective is key. Kids develop at their rate and in the time that is right for them. But that’s hard to remember when you feel like your baby isn’t doing what she is “supposed” to be doing.
One of the biggest sources of this anxiety is developmental milestones. Remember that these milestones are broad and no two children will follow the same timeline. They will get there in their way, and all you can do is support them as they develop.
So rather than comparing your baby to another baby, compare him to himself. Is he learning new things as time goes on? Then he’s doing great, and so are you!
7. Appreciate your body (and all it’s been through)
Let’s take a moment to think about all that your body has just been through. Depending on the specifics of your situation, things that your body may have endured include: Fertility medications and treatment, morning sickness, growing a new organ (yes, the placenta is an actual organ that your body can manufacture on demand), growing a human being, managing excruciating pain without medication, spinal injections, major abdominal surgery and providing all sustenance for a rapidly growing baby.
That’s a lot. And it’s reasonable to expect it to look a little—or a lot—different than before.
While it’s easy to spot the flaws you see in your current body, focusing on them will serve only to increase your dissatisfaction with your body. Instead, try focusing on gratitude. We know that a gratitude practice has tremendous mental health benefits, and making sure to include some body-centric gratitude can go a long way toward making peace with the body you’re in.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have fitness goals, it just means that they are well-balanced with an appreciation for what you currently have going. Like strong arms to carry your body. A voice that allows you to express yourself. Eyes that let you take in the beauty of your child. Focus on these things with regularity, and you will notice a shift in your body-related stress and anxiety over time.
8. Leave time in your schedule for “nothing”
Adjusting to life with a new baby is hard in so many respects. One particularly difficult aspect is learning to temper your expectations of yourself and redefine what productivity looks like daily.
Once you’ve healed from delivery, it can feel like you’re ready to get up and out and going again. You crave interaction with adults and a return to some sense of normalcy and routine. This is a normal and understandable desire, but unfortunately, the reality of caring for a newborn is that normalcy and routine are somewhat out the window for a while. If you were used to being on the go and running at full speed at all times, this can be quite the shock.
Over-scheduling and expecting that you’ll get too many things done in a day is a setup for disappointment, frustration, and distress. Instead, it’s a good idea to start exploring what productivity looks like for you now in this phase of life.
Perhaps it’s making progress on getting the baby down for an independent nap. Or getting a load of laundry washed, dried, and put away on the same day. Or figuring out how to get everything together and loaded into the car on your own. Or making a homemade meal once a week. These things may have seemed trivial a year ago, but right now they’re big accomplishments that should be honored as such.
Unrealistic expectations will not motivate you to accomplish more. The resulting unhappiness may decrease your motivation and lead to even less being accomplished. Not to mention the emotional toll it takes when we fail to live up to our goals. Right now you cannot change the intensity with which your baby needs you and your time. But you can certainly adapt your expectations to fit your reality.
9. Try talk therapy
With the convenience of e-therapy apps (try BetterHelp or TalkSpace), new moms don’t have to try and figure out childcare just to talk to a mental health expert. Text-based or video chats with a licensed therapist can serve as a helpful outlet for you to talk about what you’re going through right now—and can be squeezed into nap time.
While having a set therapy appointment might feel like just another thing on your to-do list, making time to focus on your mental health in this manner can help you gain perspective and get needed support as you navigate your new role as a mama.
10. Remember, new mom this season doesn’t last forever
I spent a long time trying not to get caught up in the “Can we have it all?” debate. I felt torn and unsure of the answer. But then I heard the answer that made the most sense to me: Yes you can have it all, but not all at the same time.
Different times of life require that certain aspects of ourselves come to the front and others have to step back a bit. So right now, mothering has moved to the top of the list, which means other things are going to get bumped. You may have to scale back the amount of time you have for socializing or pursuing hobbies or work hours. Now, of course, this will look different for everyone depending on your needs, preferences, and resources.
The important part here is to remember that this is just one season in your life. Things will change. You will have more time for yourself again soon. Your baby will get on a schedule, and you’ll be able to plan around naps and bedtime. You and your partner will have date nights again.
While you’re in this new phase, try to appreciate it. There will come times when you’ll long for days spent at home with your baby and miss the unscheduled time. Those other parts of you will have their moments again soon. For now, enjoy being mama and embrace the beautiful journey of motherhood. Cherish the precious moments of bonding with your little one and savor the joy that comes with nurturing them.
Remember, this phase is fleeting, so make the most of it and create lasting memories that you’ll treasure forever.
If you’re a new mom feeling overwhelmed or nostalgic for your pre-baby life, take a moment to reflect on the incredible role you now have. Share your experiences and tips with other moms in the comments below ⇓ and let’s support each other on this amazing journey of motherhood.
Together, we can navigate the ups and downs and create a community of love and understanding.
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