Nobody ever said that parenting is an easy job. Yes, there is joy, laughter, and euphoria, but on the flip side, there is worry, guilt and stress that can sometimes develop into depression, anxiety, and more serious mental health issues. While people are becoming more open about such things, many still struggle to talk about it. So as October is World Mental Health Month, here are some mental health support tips for Mums and Dads to help you deal with those days when it feels harder to cope.
Did you know that 1 in 5 new mums experience Post Natal Depression? Yes, it IS that common, so the chances are that you know at least one relative, friend or co-worker who has experienced it. Don’t be afraid to be open if you feel you are struggling and talk to a trusted friend or family member. The same goes for you too, Dads! Becoming a parent is a huge life change and it can take time to get to grips with your new role, so don’t bottle it up. It can be such a relief to realise that your feelings are perfectly normal and are shared by others around you.
This doesn’t have to mean hours working out at the gym. Gentle exercise in the open air can be a great benefit when you’re feeling low or stressed. Put baby in their pushchair and just walk and let your stresses unwind themselves. You could also try Yoga, Pilates, or swimming. The bonus with these is they are great for your body as well as your mind, and the social aspect is also a tonic.
If you have no time for anything else, just breathe. Some deep, slow breaths are wonderful to help you dispel stress and anxiety and the extra intake of oxygen can help your blood circulate and lift your mood. Did you know that when we breathe normally, we don’t use our full lung capacity? Take a few minutes to breathe mindfully, being conscious of the air moving in and out of your body and concentrate on filling and emptying the lungs on each breathe. It really does make a difference.
When you’re a parent, you’re usually rushing about and grabbing the nearest food to hand is an easy trap to fall into. (Finishing your child’s fish fingers is not an adequate meal!) Here’s a tip: if you’re cooking a meal, why not cook extra and put some in containers into the fridge/freezer. That way, you have some quick-to-reheat nourishment when you need it.
Get back to nature
The Japanese call it ‘forest bathing’. We call it getting back to nature. Instead of pounding the pavements, head for the park or wherever there is some open space with trees and grass. This can work wonders for your wellbeing. At this time of year, there’s a crisp smell in the air and the sound of crunching leaves can be very satisfying. If you prefer the sea, take a walk on the beach, and enjoy the salt in the air and sand underfoot.
Indulge your senses
A little self-care can go a long way when you’re a parent. A warm, scented bath, some essential oils in your ClevaPure Salt Lamp, some gentle lighting and a soothing playlist can help if you’ve had a stressful day. Turn off the phone, take a break from the TV, and relax. You deserve it!
This is one thing parents of young children don’t get enough of and we know it’s a cliché when we say ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ because of course you feel the need to catch up on other things or you have some work you need to do. We get it. However, if somebody offers to mind baby or you and your partner get to grab a night away, seize it with both hands and make the most of it by catching up on some Z’s. It can give your wellbeing a great boost.
While these tips are helpful for the everyday stresses and strains that come with being a parent, we know that sometimes, there are deeper issues, and this is where professional help is needed. There are many resources to avail of so do please, reach out because help is at hand. Here are a few which you can call on:
Cuidiú – Irish Childbirth Trust (email@example.com)
PND.ie – Post Natal Depression Ireland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nurture Health Tel: 085 861 9585
Grow.ie 1890 474 474
Aware.ie 1800 80 48 48
Samaritans Ireland Free phone: 116 123
Pieta House 1800 247 247
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