Welcome to the second blog in my Emotional Management For Mums series.
When a mum has control over her emotions she is more effective parent.
If we’re in a highly emotional state we can’t and don’t think as clearly as we can and can have a harder time implementing the parenting strategies required at the time. When we can’t implement our strategies effectively our children don’t respond as well.
So the importance of getting control of our emotions is two fold – It not only benefits our own self and enjoyment of life but it benefits our kids and family as a whole.
This second blog looks at sadness and recovering from peri-natal depression
What is Sadness & Peri-Natal Depression
Sadness, just like anger is an umbrella emotion that covers all the sub emotions such as grief, misery, sorrow, loss, upset, lonely, feeling down or feeling blue. It occurs for many different reasons and the most common cause that we find in mothers that effects their parenting is of course perinatal depression or PND
Perinatal depression is defined as depression that occurs either during pregnancy or within the first year after birth of a child. It can have devastating effects on mothers, fathers, children and the family as a whole.
Within my practice I find that that mums fall into two groups for PND – acute or chronic.
Acute is of course new depression and in this stage it is essential that mums are supported by appropriate mental health professionals including their GP, specialist psychologists and if need be psychiatrists or an in-patient hospital setting.
It is currently recommended that all women during pregnancy be screened for PND as well as the routine screening at the 6 week well-baby health check up. Screening for PND is usually done via an interview combined with the Edinburgh Depression Scale. Information on the Edinburgh Depression Scale can be found on the Black Dog Website where you can test yourself if you’d like and it will direct you whether or not you should seek professional mental health help
I have found that PND extends past the acute / crisis stage for many mums and can even go on for years.
This chronic depression can occur in mothers who have a history of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder or it can occur as a result of the stress that parents experience in their life and with the challenges that come with adjusting to being a parent and raising children. And of course it can be a combination of both.
Managing Sadness And ‘Feeling Blue’
There are 3 steps I like to take my clients through to help them manage their recovery from perinatal depression.
When you’re having one of those days or those weeks where you just can’t shake that sad mood, the dissatisfaction, the cloud hanging over your head – what’s going on for you? Here is where journalling is an amazing tool to help you. Not only can you get out whatever is inside your head without either having to disclose or feel like you’ll be judged by someone It’s a process where you can look objectively about what is going on, and see the possible solutions.
I recommend mums journal every single day, preferably at night but not immediately before sleep. Write down what happened during the day, how you felt about it and how you acted. And then go on to how you wanted to act and perhaps plan what you will do the next time that you feel that way.
Journalling can allow you to see patterns in your mood. It can allow you to see the triggers that cause you to have a ‘bad’ day as well as the things that help you have a ‘good’ day. When you know your triggers as well as those things that help you you can incorporate more of the good into your day and try to avoid or manage your triggers.
One common feeling that comes under the umbrella of sadness is loneliness. This can be really significant for stay at home mums.
It can be hard to make new friends as an adult. Sometimes we’ve still have the same friends from high school or before we had children, for other mums they don’t. Mothers groups and playgroups are a good way to meet mums however sometimes it’s only for an hour a week and not everyone wants to make long term friends from these settings.
When mums find themselves spending their days by themselves or only with their children. This can be a slippery slope to being in a blue mood. The devastating impact of social isolation is well documented and for mums it’s very common. Being around your children all day is not the same as having some adult conversation.
It’s really important to prioritise your social arrangements. This could be simply meeting up with friends who also have kids – a great way to multitask as a mum or it could be 1:1 with someone special to you.
I recommend that mums have a good adult conversation with someone outside of their family every single day. So that excludes partners or husbands. It doesn’t have to be in person. Pick up the phone and call someone if you can’t meet up. Even Skype or FaceTime is a good way of connecting with those around you. If you isolate yourself and don’t foster those relationships that are important to you then feelings of isolation and loneliness can really eat away at you.
It is important to make sure that the friendships and connections that you have around you are with people who love and support you, not just because they are there. Having 20 friends but no-one you can confide in about how you’re feeling and the struggles your going through isn’t as beneficial as have two or three friends who really know you, and really know your journey. As with most things in life it’s about quality not quantity!
The final step to recovering from PND and getting out of the blue mood, feeling sad and not enjoying being a mum is practicing gratitude! It is a simple technique that is highly effective. Individuals who practice gratitude regularly report a better quality of life than those who don’t.
When we feel like crap and feel like everything is wrong and that everything is negative in our life we become unsatisfied. One of the simplest ways to snap out of this and gain a different perspective is to literally list everything that is good in our lives and that we feel grateful for. This goes for every part of your life – your home, your friends, your inner qualities, your experiences, your kids, your spiritual or religious beliefs. Everything.
If your child’s behaviour is stressing you out and all you’re focusing on is the “bad” then sitting down and writing down everything good about their behaviour and what you love about them will shift your perception and you’ll have a more positive outlook on them.
When you combine practicing gratitude with journalling each night you will see a remarkable improvement in your mood.
Remember that if you’re finding that your moods are more blue or dull than uplifted and positive then there are options available to you. If you’re pregnant or recently had a new baby then please pop off to your GP or early childhood health nurse and have a chat about your options.
If this seems to be chronic for you or you’ve had a diagnosis of PND but still can’t shake the feelings then why not give motherhood coaching a go? Coaching provides you with a practical way to get your journey as a mum back on the track, and being the type of mum that you want to be.
I look forward to the next blog where I’ll be discussing anxiety, worry and how to manage them so you can enjoy your life to the fullest capability.
Have a beautiful day.