5 WAYS YOU CAN MANAGE STAY AT HOME MOM DEPRESSION
There are many reasons we can become depressed, depression is the leading cause of mental illness in the U.S. affecting over 40 Million people and It's really no secret that stay at home moms are notoriously depressed. Todays new moms have grown up so differently than our mothers or even grandmothers who lived the 50's housewife life (spoiler alert, they were depressed too). Modern women grew up looking forward to work, earning a paycheck and most importantly- independence and opportunity. Women aren't as prepared for what motherhood brings to their lives the way they once were- as *SS backwards as it sounds there are genuine life lessons to be made in learning how to manage a home and family that our generation didn't get to experience growing up. So no wonder we're depressed, having a baby is life altering - it triggers some primal motherly instincts that you would only need to experience to understand. Choosing to be a stay at home mom isn't akin to staying home from work for a couple days- it's constant work with little enjoyable stimulation at times. But staying home to raise and nurture your family is also amazing in so many ways!
Here are 5 ways you can manage depression as a SAHM
Stock Photo: of a stay at home mom enjoying yoga time with the littles
1. Find something you enjoy
Motivational podcasts, music, reading a good book, walking, jogging, yoga - something - anything big or small that gives you joy and can be a little bright light of hope in your day or week. Statistics show that people who have hobbies have a lower risk of suffering from low mood, anxiety and depression and can give you a sense of purpose and spark the same feelings of self worth of who you were before you became a mom.
2. Get to the root of the problem
This takes a bit of time, contemplation and mindfullness - but just as in therapy, getting to the root of what's causing you pain and sadness can be a huge release of negative emotions. If you can find a minute to get away to clear your head and explore your feelings you may be able to release some of those negative thoughts and start to feel lighter. Something that's also powerful, once you start feeling a bit better is to think about more positive thoughts or memories that bring you joy until your sadness has lifted.
For the new mom, its important to understand what you're dealing with - baby blues, post partum depression and/or post partum anxiety. It is not uncommon to feel like you've just handed in your identity with the new role you've taken on as a mom- that you were never trained or groomed for. Sleepless nights are probably compounding the problems you're facing as well so if you're struggling with mental health it's important to make self care a priority.
stock photo of a productive work space, set up for time blocking
3. Stop procrastinating and start something productive
Once upon a time you were a very independent, successful, productive adult! As a stay at home mom it's easy to fall into a rut of boredom and/or feel unfulfilled. Finding something that makes you feel productive can totally change your mood around and start to make you feel like yourself again. Is there a small project you can get started on the morning? Have you always wanted to try something out but never had the time? Well as a SAHM you can somewhat control your schedule (as long as its around those littles ;)) and maybe you can carve out small blocks of time to start a new exciting project. Thats how I found speed cleaning motivational videos - they are so fun to make and it motivates me to clean my home from to bottom!
Anther great productivity tip that I use and started very early on in my motherhood journey is to time block my calendar. I have a running schedule on my calendar that acts as my to-do list, I look at my calendar every morning and start getting things done. Checking things off my calendar works in 2 ways 1. I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I finish a task, AND, I can look back every day or week and see how much I've really done even though I may feel like I'm not making progress, or I'm just washing dishes on repeat until the end of eternity, its good to see there on my calendar that I actually did a whole lot more than that! Time blocking is a great tool to help manage your family and home and I hope to share more of that here on the blog.
4. Have a routine
Having a routine is often overlooked when it comes to mental health, but routines can give you back a sense of control and something to look forward to when things start to feel like they are falling apart. Even a routine as small as one thing you do every day when you wake up can make all the difference in generating a motivated outlook to your day. Okay, okay I know - you have littles thrown into the mix... so maybe for a while your routine won't be set in concrete, there will be concessions you need to make because you have other priorities, but I encourage you to find one or two things you can commit to each day to make you feel like you have something in your control. It could be as simple as making the bed before noon - when you hit that goal give yourself a pat on the back, I guarantee it won't be long before you reminisce of the times that it felt good just to make your bed and now you are in a whole different phase of your life and your child's needs have evolved.
It's not just that though, studies show that having a day time routine can ultimately help with more quality sleep and family routines can help children moderate impulsive and oppositional behavior. Its a win win for the whole family.
5. Get Help
You don't have to do it all! Are you overwhelmed with chores? Hire someone or ask a friend for help, kids driving you absolutely crazy? Find a play date, activity or a nanny/mothers helper for part-time help so that you can have some time to yourself to get back on track. Remember there are no achievement medals being passed around for who did the most under the most amount of stress...take some expectation off of yourself. Motherhood isn't a competition its a process, and quite frankly the struggle of depression and anxiety should not take away from all of the joys of staying home with your kids. If you're struggling with more than just a bad day, get help in any way that you can swing it.
In closing I want to reiterate not to take depression lightly - for many of us this will pass, things evolve and change as our children grow older and enter the school system, or we find new mom friends to share our trials and tribulations with... but for some this is a deeper issue and especially if you're within the first year of having a baby, know the signs of major depressive disorders and post partum depression.
Most common symptoms of PPD:
Feeling isolated and hopeless for more than a 5 day period | having thoughts of suicide | Crying for more than 3 days straight | Irritibility | Loss of appetite | Mood Swings | Trouble sleeping
Please seek a consultation from a healthcare provider if you are suffering from any combination of these symptoms. It's as simple as making a phone call nowadays.