Let’s talk about mental health. We try to look after the health of our body but do you do anything to look after your mental health and the mental health of your children? Mental health is often in the media as being underfunded and resources not being available when needed, but what small things can we do in our daily lives to help our mental health?
Being a parent is stressful whether you are a stay at home parent or a working parent. I know as a stay at home mum days can be long and lonely when you sometimes only have a child to talk to, and in my case one that often doesn’t respond to me. During my 35 years I have experienced two tragic life changing events in my life, both of which I was fortunate enough to have help and support to get me through them. I have never contemplated suicide but I have had feelings where I really didn’t know what to do, how I was going to cope and how things in my life could improve. At times I had a real sinking feeling, a feeling of not knowing how to escape from what was happening, something of which I had absolutely no control over. It can be quite easy to get dragged into a vicious circle where your thoughts are triggered by the slightest thing and you then spiral down into an oblivion of bad memories that it can be hard to snap out of.
As I have got older I have learnt more about myself and developed ways of keeping myself happy, which I think is important for James. Currently I have adopted the following things that I know help my own mental health…
- Yoga – I first developed a love for yoga in Lithuania and loved the way it made me feel and even did it up until a few days before James was born. I currently get up between 6:30 and 6:45 and use an app to do between 10 and 20 minutes of yoga depending on how much time I have. It wakes me up, it improves my mood, it energises me and it is time I have to myself before James gets up. When James wasn’t such a good sleeper I used to try and do some in his nap time, but that was far more intermittent. I am now in a good routine of doing it daily.
- Fresh air – All the walks I go on with James aren’t just for his benefit, they are for mine too. Walking in the fresh air makes me feel good, energised and more positive.
- Chocolate – for some people it’s wine, for me it’s chocolate. I eat chocolate nearly every evening when James goes to bed and I look forward to it.
- Writing my blog – writing my blog helps get my thoughts on things in order. It is a bit like therapy.
- Having a clean, tidy and organised house gives me an organised mind. If something is out of place or a mess it annoys me. My husband knows this and has learnt to be tidy.
- My friends – It can be hard to make time to see friends when you have a toddler but I do try and when I do get to meet up with them without James it can be like a therapy session. I walk out of the house and feel like a weight has been lifted, I am free and don’t need to worry about James. I have realised that some people make me feel good about myself and others not so good, so I try to spend time with those that make me feel good, and less with those that don’t. Even when I can’t escape the house to see my friends they are readily available to chat online via my phone.
- My husband – he has the ability to know when something is wrong even with my best efforts to hide it. He knows every facial expression I have and what they mean and knows my character inside out. I sometimes think he knows me better than I know myself.
These are just some of the ways I currently try to keep in good mental health. When I was pregnant with James I used to colour with an adult colouring book. It was so relaxing and something I should probably do more of now. I also recently read a book which I found was a welcome break from staring at my phone. My only problem is finding books that actually interest me enough for me to read them. The ultimate way to further improve my mental health would probably be to delete Instagram. At times it can be hard scrolling through seeing perfect eaters and some of the foods children are now being given these days when mine won’t eat much more than chicken nuggets. To combat this I try to follow accounts that are more in line with my way of thinking, and those that don’t, well I try to quickly scroll past them.
As for James and his mental health, he definitely seems happier when he has spent time outdoors so I try to give him time outside everyday, although this isn’t always possible. Ultimately mine and my husbands biggest goal in life is for James to be happy, so as he grows up we will encourage and nurture his interests as best we can to make sure he is doing things he enjoys, along with plenty of time outside. We will also make sure he always knows that he can talk to us and that we will be there for him.
How do you look after your mental health?