Improving Mental Wellbeing through Motherhood

Did you find coming into motherhood how much your emotional state was challenged in the most glorious ways?

Am I doing the right thing? 

Could I be doing more?

How can I do it all?

Gosh, these thoughts alone can go round and round in our heads endlessly can't they? And are they realistic or setting ourselves up to exhaustion, overwhelm and never-ending anxiety. On the flip side, motherhood also evokes a love and sense of protection similar to a lioness, I have never known. 

What I wasn't expecting were the highs and lows of my emotions, ranging from tears, frustration with others, anger (at self) and exhaustion. Seemingly simple things like cluttered spaces (in reality, filled with beautiful flowers and gifts following Eva's arrival) derailing me with an overwhelmingly urge to tidy and rid myself of feeling stressed. Did it really need to be done... while also supporting myself through sleep deprivation, eat well, move my body and bond with my adorable bundle of joy.

Caring for our mental health is paramount especially during motherhood. I thought the strategies and habits I already had in place would see me through. I soon realised this would be a new learning curve about myself, one that would challenge and elevate me all at the same time.  

What did I do? 

Being Mindful

Do you practice mindfulness? Learning to be mindful has been a life-changing blessing and for me, means living in the present moment.

Rather than letting my thoughts travel down paths that don't lead to joy or contentment – triggering anxiety, fear, and sadness and overwhelm. Who wants that???

It is a continuous practice, and as with any other skill, it takes practice to get better at it.

Mindfulness also helped me when feeling frustrated or angry with someone because I'm able to step back from my initial reactions and not act impulsively out of anger. Taking a deep breath and reminding myself of how important this person is to me - even if they are driving me crazy at the moment.

You can then make a choice to respond differently knowing your love for them is greater than whatever annoyance you're experiencing. In those moments, mindfulness offers an alternative perspective so you can make a different choice about how to respond next time.

Also prioritising what truly is important in that moment/ day to maintain sanity and focus on what matters most. I reality the rest can wait, can't it? If it can't, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Once I did, I found my anxiety levels ease and lighter overall in my body. 

Positive Thinking

It is possible to change your thoughts so that you feel more confident, in control, calm and happy. The key is focusing on the thoughts that make you feel good – take a break from those that do not, get rid of them altogether. How does that sound?  

Keeping positive thoughts at front of mind can change the energy in your body, release the negative hormones cortisol and adrenalin, lower blood pressure, boost immunity system function, and create greater brain activity.

Here are some ways to maintain positive thinking throughout your day

1) Positive self-talk: Reframe your thoughts by saying

  • I am strong rather of I am weak. If that's too much of a stretch for your mind and heart to believe perhaps instead 'I am learning how to be strong' and work your way up from there. 
  • Saying affirmations out loud or writing them down helps them stick.

2) Take time for yourself to move or read something uplifting (just a couple of pages).

3) Change your perspective by looking at an old problem with new eyes. What would have made it better? Ask yourself how this could be handled differently next time.

Negative Thinking

Negative thinking involves thoughts that focus on something being bad, not good enough, or in some way not what you want. Many people think these thoughts during the day. For example, thoughts like "I can't do this" when trying to soothe a crying baby/ child.

These types of thoughts may be experienced in our minds as negative because they create a feeling that something is wrong. When negative thoughts are constant over time, they can have a detrimental effect on your mental and emotional well-being. That’s why it’s important to learn how to switch them to more positive ones and switch up your self-talk to be more loving and nurturing. 

It may take practice, and it is possible! The first step would be identifying the thoughts that are triggering and replacing them with more loving ones. Start small and work up to thoughts that at first may seem out of reach or overwhelming.

For example:

  • I keep thinking I am not enough.
  • I am looking forward to thinking I am enough.
  • I keep thinking I can’t ….
  • I am looking forward to ….
  • I am feeling…. and know I can take care of myself through this process.

To do this, we could try saying STOP out loud after every thought which reminds us of its frequency. Next, we could challenge ourselves to find two positives about each situation rather than focusing on the negatives.

Perhaps start with what is fact so you can differentiate from the thought and the feelings & energy attached to them.

Finally, we could use affirmations like

I am strong because …..

I am happy because…..

I look for reasons to feel good. This includes…..

Good riddance to decisions that don’t support, your self-care, self-value and self-worth.

Changing Negative Thinking Patterns

Most of us have been taught to live with a certain degree of fear. We go through life with the belief that life is dangerous, something could always go wrong, or we are all susceptible to some type of harm. This way of thinking not only leads to increased feelings anxiety and stress, but it also takes up space in our minds.

When we stop allowing fear to drive what occupies space in our minds and instead choose gratitude, there is a significant shift in how we feel physically as well as mentally. Research has shown that people who identify gratitude as an important part of their lives experience higher levels of happiness and well-being on average than those who do not incorporate gratitude into their lives.

Finding Opportunities for Gratitude

It's all too easy to get into a habit of being negative about the things going on in your life, which can lead to greater feelings of depression. I know for me that felt heavy, suffocating and overwhelming at times.

Some ways to start refocusing your thoughts include taking time for gratitude; reflecting on how good it feels when others care about you or how great it is when everything is going well; and focusing on what you're grateful for instead of what's not working. Also taking the time to acknowledge what you already have in your life that means something to you. For me this is always stemmed in gratitude for my health, support tribe around me, steady income to live the life I enjoy, and a home that provides me comfort, security and joy.

These little exercises may seem insignificant at first, however they can have a lasting impact on your mood. Practicing these skills each day has been shown to lower anxiety levels, increase happiness levels, and make people feel more satisfied with their lives overall. And what a great role model to our child/ren to watch us embody these habits and hopefully embody them for themselves.... 

I would love to hear what you thought of this month’s blog and what resonated most with you.

Feel free to post on our socials on Instagram & Facebook or reply email.

Can’t wait to hear from you x

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