Thursday, January 26, 2023

How A Mother Can Improve Her Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in five adults will have a mental health problem in any given year, and it seems that keeping your mental health in check can be an especially difficult task for mothers. This could be due to the number of things mothers have to do (especially if they also work or home school, for example), as well as the fact that social media lets us see the ‘perfect’ world of other mothers, making us feel as though we’re just not good enough. 

This can all lead to serious mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. It might lead to burnout. Therefore, it’s crucial that a mother needs to know how to improve her mental health where possible (and where it’s not possible to do it yourself, you must seek expert advice from a medical professional). Read on to find out more. 


Photo by Gustavo Fring

Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself

Many women have adopted the idealized depiction of motherhood presented in magazines and the constantly updating feeds on social media platforms like Instagram. However, it's important to remember that you shouldn't decide – or be told – what parenthood is based on a handful of carefully chosen, staged, and curated photos. 

In other words, if you want to feed your children something quick and easy for dinner rather than spending hours on a from scratch recipe, that’s fine – feeding them is the important part. If you can’t bake a cake for a class charity event, just buy one – you’re still participating. Some people will have the time and inclination, and some won’t, and it doesn’t matter what camp you fall into as long as you are happy and your children are too. Stressing out over things because you’ve set yourself too high an expectation is just making things hard for yourself and everyone around you. 

Take Help When It’s Offered

Another issue that can cause moms to have poor mental health and to feel bad is that they feel they have to do everything by themselves. They don’t want to ask for help, even if they really need it, and can’t move forward without it because they don’t want to seem ‘less’ somehow. Surely all mothers are meant to be superheroes? 

All mothers are superheroes, but being a superhero isn’t about being as strong as possible for as long as possible before collapsing under the weight of everything. It’s about ensuring your children have the happiest, healthiest life you’re able to offer, and it’s about knowing that it takes more than one person to raise a child in that way. Whether you ask for a lot of help or a little, it’s important to know that you can do it and not feel any shame in that. It could make all the difference. 

Plus, when help is offered, don’t turn it down. If someone has noticed that you could do with some assistance, take the offer of help and use it to your advantage. For example, a neighbor might suggest they cook for you and the kids a couple of nights a week if they can see you’re busy, or it could be that your boss arranges a mental health speaker at work for everyone, and you know you would benefit from this. Maybe someone offers to take the kids to school to allow you to get started on your work earlier in the day, ensuring you’re done by the time you get home. Whatever the help is, even if it’s ‘just’ a shoulder to cry on, accepting it is always a good idea. 

Allow Yourself To Say No Sometimes 

Moms are known for being able to do a lot of different things at once. But the truth is that a lot of the burnout moms feel comes from trying to do everything. When we say no to someone or something, many of us feel bad about it. But if we don't set limits for ourselves by saying no, we could burn out even faster or more than we are now.

If your family wants to see you or you want to see them and it feels like too much right now, it's okay to say no. If there is an afterschool activity that means you have to take your kids to a far away place that leaves no time for rest, you might have to tell them they can’t do it. This can cause upset, but you need to be able to look out for yourself as well as trying to do the best for your children, and sometimes that means a no for them and a yes for you instead.

Do Something That Isn’t Being A Mom

You probably had interests and hobbies before having children. Perhaps you and your friends enjoyed going out dancing, playing in a dodgeball league, reading for fun, making crafts, going on trips, or visiting new places. When children enter the picture, it's common to put personal interests on the back burner. However, it can be very taxing to constantly be in "mom mode," with no time to focus on anything but taking care of your child.

Maybe it's a stroll in the park without the burden of a baby carriage or a group of kids to keep an eye on. Perhaps getting the girls together online to form a book club is the answer. Or perhaps enrolling in a watercolor painting course would help you rediscover the joy of creating. You should talk to your partner about how important it is for you to take this time for yourself without having to worry about the kids. Just a few hours doing something for yourself can make a huge difference in terms of your mental health; you’ll be happier, calmer, and a lot less stressed. 

Be Open About Your Issues 

During times of difficulty, it can be quite challenging to accept, even to yourself, much less to others, that you're struggling with your mental health as a mom. Moms are often proud of the fact that they can do everything, even if it means they are breaking and cracking. We might worry about what other people will think of us if they find out the truth. But the truth is that a lot of other moms and women in general feel the same way, but they don't talk about it because they don't like to admit their own problems either. So you wouldn't know that they are also feeling burned out because they don't talk about it.

Telling someone you're stressed out and having problems, be it your partner, best friend, or even a total stranger in a local Facebook group, can help alleviate some of the stress and suffering you're feeling. By being honest with other people about how we feel, we can start to relieve some of the stress that comes from trying to keep it together and not let anyone else know how we feel. When you tell others and yourself that you are tired and stressed, they will be able to help.

Talking to someone about what you're going through can help you sort out your thoughts and come up with new ways to deal with your problems. Moms often don't have time to go to an appointment, but working with an online therapist can make it easy to get the mental and emotional support you need. You can talk to an online counselor at home while your kids are napping or at work during your lunch break, so you don't have to worry about finding childcare or driving somewhere. 

Make A To-Do List 

This can seem like a strange way to tackle your mental health, but a to-do list could make a big difference in a positive way. When there is so much to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, feel stressed, forget things (and then feel guilty), and so on. The more this happens, the worse your mental health will be, and the worse your mental health gets, the more this will happen – and so on. 

A to-do list can help to make you feel calmer and more organized, and at the very least, it means you’ll always know where you’re meant to be when and with which child. 

Often it’s a good idea to have two lists. One will contain the things that have to be done that day, like work deadlines and cooking dinner at a certain time, or the kids’ extracurricular activities, and so on. The other can contain things that you would like to do, but that you’re flexible about. In other words, if you do get them done, that’s great, but if they wait a day or two, that’s fine too. In this way, you won’t have to feel so stressed, and you’ll actually feel a lot more in control of your life as you start to cross things off your list. 

Not only will this be helpful for you, but it will help your children as well. If you can teach them how to make to-do lists for themselves, this is a habit they can grow up with, ensuring they are as organized as possible in their adult life. 

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