Navigating Motherhood + Anxiety
This post was created in collaboration with Physician’s Choice. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Momma Society going!
Earlier this year I opened up about my anxiety and I was floored not only by the support I received from the Momma Society community, but also by the number of you that are also experiencing anxiety + other mental health issues. Managing your mental health can be truly exhausting, especially with the demands of motherhood. There are still occasional days where I feel like I’m barely making it through the day, but I’m learning to recognize specific triggers and am being more proactive with self-care. The past 4 or 5 months have made a world of difference.
When It’s More Than Just Worrying
Stress, feeling down, and anxiety are all normal emotions that we feel. However, when your bad day turns into a few bad weeks, it’s possible that there might be something else going on. There’s no easy test that will tell you if your change in mood or temperament is caused by a decline in your mental health and each illness will have its own symptoms. However, if you think you may be experiencing issues with your mental health, consider if you’re experiencing any of the following:
Excessive worrying or fear
Feeling excessively sad or low
Extreme mood changes, including feelings of euphoria or dispair
Changes in sleeping habits + lacking energy
Changes in appetite
Inability to participate in your daily activities
Thoughts of harming others or yourself
More information on possible signs and symptoms can be found on the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ website.
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from these symptoms, reach out to your doctor! My biggest regret is that I was too ashamed to do this for far too long. Your primary care physician can perform a general evaluation and recommend if further treatment or specialized care is necessary. Just remember, there’s nothing shameful or embarrassing about seeking help for your mental health - you’ll be glad that you did.
Little Changes That Go A Long Way
Depending on the type and severity of the mental illness you may be experiencing, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that’s customized to your needs. However, there are some additional tools you can keep in your mental medicine cabinet and you can start using them right away!
I know it’s not always possible with little ones around, but try to get as much sleep as you can every night! Stay off your phone or tablet the hour before you go to bed to help your body get into “sleep mode”.
If you can, kick your caffeine (or at least limit it!). Caffeine is a stimulant and it can make your anxiety worse. Try switching to an herbal tea or drinking 1-2 glasses of water first thing when you wake up - hydration will help jumpstart your system!
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise can release tension in your muscles and endorphins in your brain - both of which make you happier and more relaxed! Yoga has been a great tool for me, but even just forcing myself to go on a walk around the neighborhood helps.
Cut processed foods and processed sugars out of your diet. According to the team at Harvard, eating foods that are rich in zinc, magnesium, vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, and kefir will nourish your mind as much as your body. Need a good place to start? Try the mediterannean diet, which can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
I found this really yummy green smoothie recipe on The Little Epicurean’s blog, and it’s a super easy way to incorporate vitamin B, zinc, and magnesium into your diet. Plus, it’s one step of instructions - I love keeping things simple.
1¼ cup coconut water
2 cups of baby kale leaves
½ cup avocado
1 ripe banana, frozen
2 teaspoons of lime juice (preferable fresh squeezed!)
Pour coconut water into blender. Add kale, avocado, frozen banana and lime juice. Cover with lid and blend until smooth. Pour and serve immediately!
Supplementing My Care With Physician’s Choice
In addition to making changes to my diet and exercising more, before I became pregnant with baby #3, I also started taking an Ashwagandha supplement from Physician’s Choice. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb and has been found to reduce stress, help improve your mood, and provides support to your immune and adrenal systems. The Physician’s Choice capsule only includes powdered Ashwagandha root and black pepper, which helps with absorption. You can open the capsules and mix them right into your morning tea, yogurt, or smoothie.
In addition to providing support for your immune, reproductive, and hormonal systems, ashwagandha also has antioxidant, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, anti-bacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties aka packed with goodness to help fuel your #mombod
Remember momma, you’re not in this alone! Make sure you join the Momma Society Facebook group for extra support, laughs, and smoothie recipes :)