This Mental Health Awareness Month, Boledi Makanatleng gives moms practical tips on how to prioritise their mental health.
With so much happening daily in our lives, from work-related stress to juggling our different roles and much more, life can be particularly overwhelming on some days. When we don’t make time to check in with ourselves, this buildup of small stressful situations can result in high anxiety levels affecting our mental health.
When choosing a child-care provider, would you choose someone who seemed overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed? Or would you choose someone who seemed happy, well-rested and healthy? Who would you want for your kids? The answer goes for you, too, mommy.
Dealing with the feeling overwhelmed.
If you are trying to improve your mental health, the first thing to do is have realistic expectations for yourself. Avoid overextending yourself and say no to anything that you do not have the mental capacity for. Clear your schedule, if possible, or keep it to just a few tasks daily.
Ask for alone time, rest and eat well.
For moms who have no one to help them, instead of prioritising the chores when the baby takes a nap, just take this time and focus on yourself. I know it’s easier said than done, but you will feel much better. The dishes can wait a bit longer.
Get enough sleep: this has been shown to significantly lessen the symptoms of many mental conditions and improve our mood and the ability to function within stressful situations.
Eat enough nutritious meals (more whole plant foods), drink enough water and take your vitamins. Avoid heavy substance use like smoking or overconsuming alcohol. This will help strengthen your immune system and improve your mental health.
Move your body.
Set aside 30 minutes daily and move your body/exercise. This will improve your state of mind, energy levels, and mood and boost your self-esteem and outlook on life. Exercising releases endorphins (chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the body), so make time for some movement.
Contrary to popular belief, talking about what you are going through really helps and makes a difference in the long run. There’s access to counselling through various platforms and private practices. See this as the investment in yourself that it is.
Manage your time spent online: Unplug and unwind. This allows you to be present, connect with the natural world, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Find a hobby that energises you.
You can do yoga at home or take a walk. You may find drawing, painting, or even baking cathartic for you. Those appointments with yourself will replenish you.
Start with doing just one thing for you.
Do one thing for yourself daily, even if that one thing is getting up and making your bed or brushing your teeth and having a slightly longer shower. Put on that cute dress for no occasion because looking after your mental health is the occasion, mommy.
Get a journal and write down how you feel, minimise time spent watching stressful news updates, read a book or listen to motivational content (prayer and worship music always work for me), and find what works for you.
Give yourself grace
On days when you are running on reserve, remember that making your bed, opening windows, showering and getting into a clean outfit is a big win.
Boledi Makanatleng – Psychology Graduate, Podcaster and Mental Health Mommy Blogger