Surviving the Holidays with POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION and ANXIETY By April Wilson
“Others cannot read your mind, so you need to clearly express what you want and need”
verywhere you go you’re surrounded by the bright lights of Christmas décor, the humming of Christmas carols, and the message that this is the most wonderful time of year. But if you’re struggling with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, this time of year may be anything but joyous. All the extra stress of trying to make the holidays magical, the overscheduling, the never ending to-do list… the holidays can take a toll on anyone’s mental health, but those with postpartum depression and anxiety need to take extra care to protect their health during this time of year. Here’s some ways to keep the merry in Christmas and avoid the bah humbugs.
Don’t forget the basics. You probably know that exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep are fundamental to mental health, but the chaos of the holidays can often cause us to neglect these essential basics. Even if it means saying no to an invitation or cutting back on other holiday to-dos, make sure you are fitting in exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep. Schedule in self-care. Self-care is another fundamental step in healing from postpartum depression and anxiety, and surviving motherhood in general, but it often gets put on the backburner when life gets busy. Just like sleep and exercise, you must take care of yourself! Whatever self-care looks like for you --- reading a book alone at a coffee shop, taking a bath, getting your nails done, journaling every morning --- make sure you put it on the schedule, and don’t skip it! Make time to be alone. One of the best parts of the holidays is being surrounded by friends 10 | November/December 2017
and family, but all that socializing can be exhausting. Spending some time alone with your thoughts and feelings can be healthy and refreshing. Just make sure you aren’t avoiding all your family and friends because of your mental health. Isolation is not healthy. Learn to say no. There are only so many hours in each day, and you should spend them doing things that fill you up. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party, participate in every holiday tradition, or cram in one more to-do. Instead, decide where you can cut back or delegate so your time is spent enjoying the things that matter to you. There is nothing wrong with saying no. Communicate your needs. Others cannot read your mind, so you need to clearly express what you want and need. Set limits about what you can handle. Ask for what will make the season easier for you. People want to help, but they don’t always know how. Accept where you are. No matter where you are in your healing journey, accept this is where you are right now and that it is okay. It is okay to feel sad, angry, worried, or whatever else you might be experiencing. Just like the season, these feeling, this experience, will pass. If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, be sure to talk to your medical professional. Both are treatable with therapy and/or medication. You don’t have to suffer through this alone.
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