Raise your hand if motherhood's got you feeling a little stressed.
It's the ultimate job what with the endless to-do's of keeping the house and daily lives of people on track, carrying the mental load of all those details, not to mention the stress of shaping little people's lives.
All of that can take a serious toll on a mom's mental health. Luckily there are some things we can do to proactively manage our mental health (as if you needed one more thing to worry about). But much like the flight attendant's instructions, you gotta put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you. Same with your mental health: Take care of yourself first, so you can take care of them better.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of mental health crisis or emergency, please dial 988 to access free and confidential resources.
1. Embrace the chaos
Let's face it. Motherhood can be chaotic. Instead of stressing out about the mess or the schedule, try embracing the chaos. Enjoy the little moments of laughter and love that come with having a house full of kids and laundry and dirty dishes...
It's okay to take a break every once in a while and put yourself first. Easier said than done, of course, when kids are involved, but even if it's just a quick walk around the block, an extra long shower, or a solo trip to Target. Prioritize a little me-time at least once a week.
3. Practice gratitude
When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to think about all the things you're grateful for. It could be something as simple as a hot cup of coffee in the morning or the sound of your kids actually getting along for once.
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4. Connect with other moms
Talking to other moms who are going through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful. Join a mom's group or reach out to your mom BFF. It can be the lifeline you didn't know you needed.
You probably already know this, but exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mood. No need to go crazy with marathon training or powerlifting. Just take a walk, or go for a bike ride ... anything to get your body moving will help. And yes, wrestling toddlers into car seats is def exercise, but might not give you the mood boost you're looking for.
6. Eat right
Eating the leftover mac & cheese off the kids' plates isn't exactly the gold standard of nutrition. Invest in your own good health by making an effort to eat better. But also, life's too short to shun the cookies you made with the kids. Just chase them with a kale salad, and you're good.
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7. Get enough sleep
Don't have to ask us twice when it comes to sleep. Unfortunately, there are these kids with 3-hour bedtime routines, all hours of wake-up calls, and the infamous 5 am side of bed death stare. Really cuts into your sleeping time. Curbing late-night Netflix bingeing and bedtime phone scrolling should help.
8. Ask for help
Asking for help is hard, but you can't do everything on your own. Whether it's asking your partner to take over for a bit or hiring a babysitter, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
9. Say no
It's okay to say no sometimes. You don't have to say yes to every request that comes your way. The PTA can get by with a dozen fewer cookies, and your friend's neighbor's Pampered Chef party can wait. Prioritize your time and energy on the things that are most important to you.
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10. Talk to a pro
Sometimes taking a nap and eating an apple just isn't enough, and that's when you can and should get professional help. There are so many options these days that fit into every schedule. If juggling the kids to get to an IRL appointment seems daunting, check out one of the many online therapists that can see you anytime, anywhere.
Managing your mental health as a mom is important for both you and your family. You're doing important work, mom. Make sure you're up to the job.