Ever heard of “Mom Brain”?
I’m sure you have – most mothers are aware of this term that describes the forgetfulness that comes with having children.
But Mom Brain is so much more than that – it’s actually a recognized psychological condition.
Our brains physically change when we have kids in order to promote a sense of caring for our little ones. Unfortunately, this comes with negative side effects such as heightened emotions and memory interference.
We become so focused on caring for our children that we begin to ignore our own needs. This leads to stress, anxiety and a loss of identity.
It’s no wonder moms everywhere struggle with mental health issues.
We just don’t feel like we have the time to focus on our own needs, so we place ourselves on the back burner while we direct our attention to our children and our families.
What if I told you that you can improve your mental health in quick and simple ways?
You don’t necessarily need to spend hours with a therapist or a whole weekend getting away to nurture your mental health and start to feel balance in your life again.
Here are 5 ways you can quickly improve your mental health:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Moms
While social media has given us an amazingly convenient way to connect with other moms and create a community of support, it also opens the door to constantly comparing ourselves to other mothers.
This can be a dangerous rabbit hole to fall down, since it creates a perpetuating sense of not being good enough.
Since we identify so strongly as mothers once we have kids, this can be a huge blow to our self-esteem.
There’s really only two ways to stop comparing yourself to other moms: Get off social media or just stop comparing yourself to other moms.
Instead of looking longingly at the lives of other moms who are doing it “better” than you, remember that what you’re seeing is exactly what they want the world to see.
That Instagram mom who has it all together? Yeah, likely not. Behind-the-scenes she is dealing with the same behaviors and struggles that you are.
The truth about motherhood is that we all deal with the same challenges and stresses, despite what is being put on social media.
So stop comparing yourself to “perfect” moms because, in reality, they ain’t that perfect.
2. Schedule Your Self Care
Self care is monumentally important for moms and, if you can’t find the time to do it, you need to make the time.
Self care, by definition, is any activity you can participate in that takes care of your mental, emotional and physical health. This can be anything from hot baths to reading to going for a run.
Prioritizing your self care is key to improving your mood and reducing anxiety and overwhelm.
Easier said than done, right?
I know there’s not a lot of wiggle room in mom’s hectic schedule, but you can find time to take care of yourself.
First, start small. Even five minutes a day is enough to fill your cup and experience the benefits of self care.
Don’t believe me? Here are quick and easy things you can do in five minutes:
- Write in a journal
- Have a cup of tea
- Practice deep breathing
- Rub your feet
- Color a picture
- Pat your cat
The more you can squeeze quick and easy activities into your day, the better.
Next, carve out time for yourself. If this means actually writing down your self care time on a calendar, so be it.
It’s okay to prioritize your self care. Have your partner take over the bedtime routine so you can have a moment to yourself or cart your kids off to their grandparents every once and a while to have a moment of peace.
It’s not selfish, it’s not bad parenting – it’s crucial to your mental health.
3. Go Outside
Research suggests that being out in nature can help reduce anxiety levels and improve mood – and it doesn’t take a lot!
Even 10 minutes out in the fresh air can be enough to melt some stress away and bring clarity back to your mind.
The great thing about seeking comfort and escape in the outdoors is that, while you are outside, you don’t have to DO anything. You can just BE.
As moms, we are constantly focused on DOING things. We pressure ourselves to be productive every moment of every day.
When you’re outside walking around, however, you have the space to organize your thoughts and decompress.
And it’s an activity you can include your little ones in as well, so you don’t have to scramble to find the time to do it!
4. Lower Your Expectations (Of Yourself)
Almost in the same vein as comparing ourselves to other moms, we tend to hold ourselves to a very high standard when it comes to being mothers.
We worry if our kids don’t get enough sleep, if they sleep too much, if they don’t eat healthy enough, if we don’t spend enough time with them, and so on.
Mom guilt is a very real thing and it comes from imposing high expectations on ourselves to perform as mothers.
I read a story somewhere where a woman talks about the day her mother apologized to her for being a busy and stressed out mom. Her example was the days when supper would consist of crackers, cheese and bologna.
The woman telling the story admitted to her mother that those were her favorite suppers because they were novel and she enjoyed eating them.
Your children are not keeping score and will not hold your mothering deficits against you when they are older.
What they will remember is your connection with them. It’s harder to foster a nurturing relationship with your children when you’re too busy stressing about giving them the “perfect” life.
So lower your expectations of yourself as a mother. It’s okay if you break the so-called parenting “rules” from time to time.
Remember, it’s about “being” and not “doing”.
5. Lean on Your Mom Tribe
You know who understands mothers more than anyone else? That’s right, other mothers.
While your family and non-mom friends are invaluable, having other mothers around who understand your stress and challenges helps to normalize your experiences.
Mom friends help you realize that you are not a perfect mom. Unlike the moms you see on social media, mom friends are brutal and honest. They will share the dirty details of their motherhood experiences.
This will also help you feel less alone. Having a Mom Tribe means having a group of women with whom you share a deep understanding with.
Sometimes finding a mom tribe to vibe with can be difficult. You can always chat up other moms at the playground, join playgroups or even volunteer at your child’s school or local community centres.
If your child is in daycare or school, you can always take that opportunity to meet your kid’s friend’s moms.
Just remember to maintain boundaries with your mom friends. Never agree to favors that you don’t have the time and energy for.
How Do You Do It?
Seriously, I want to know what kinds of things you do to maintain your mental health as a mom. I’ve only listed 5 things here but I know there’s some amazing self care ideas floating around out there.
Remember that every mom is different, so what works for one mom may not work for you.
But, hey, it’s always worth trying, right?
Share your tips and secrets in the comments below!