10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

Between putting up decorations, sending out Christmas cards, shopping for the perfect gifts, baking cookies, attending school singalongs and holiday parties, traveling to visit family, hosting guests and money woes, ’tis the season for holiday stress.

I don’t know about you, but feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious aren’t what the holidays are about, despite what society tells us.

For me, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and the holidays are meant for family.

While I know there are to-do’s that have to get done, like buying my kids’ gifts, there are other tasks that are actually negotiable, can be done a different way, can be handed off to someone else, or done away with entirely. And that my friends, is the key to beating holiday stress. 😀

But first, let’s take a look at how many of us feel stressed out this time of year…

HOLIDAY STRESS STATISTICS

It turns out holiday stress is a big issue.

According to a 2018 survey, 88 percent of people say they feel stressed when celebrating the holidays.

When it comes to our relationships, the average couple will have at least 7 arguments this holiday season, the same survey found.

Of course, money is also a big stressor. According to the 2019 Bankrate Holiday Gifting Survey, 6 out of 10 people say they feel pressure to overspend on presents, travel, social gatherings, and charitable donations.

And if you think you’re more stressed than your partner, you are (no surprise, right?).

According to a report by the American Psychological Association (APA), 44 percent of women (versus 31 percent of men) say they have more stress during the holiday season.

WHAT CAUSES HOLIDAY STRESS?

Holiday stress can be very individual but the most common sources include:

  • Shopping for gifts
  • Money concerns
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Preparing for house guests
  • Family dynamics
  • Conversations about politics, religion and money

Traveling to visit family is also another source of holiday stress.

A recent survey found that people who travel to see family during the holidays need a break from their extended families after about 4 hours. What’s more, while 95 percent say it’s important to spend time with them, 40 percent of those who will be staying with family admit that it’s stressful.

HOLIDAY STRESS AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH

No one wants to experience stress of course, but it can take a toll on your health.

Holiday stress can lead to fatigue, irritability, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety and depression.

Although cookies and desserts tempt us everywhere we turn this time of year, holiday stress can also make it tough to eat healthy and it can lead to emotional eating.

Stress can also prevent you from making healthy choices like getting to the gym and making time for self-care, and it can affect your relationship with your partner and your sex life.

When you’re stressed out, sleep can also be hard to come by. According to a recent survey by Mattress Advisor, 64 percent of people say they sleep less than 8 hours a day during the holidays. The quality of their sleep suffered too: on a scale of one to ten, 74 percent said they rate their holiday sleep quality as seven or lower.

HOW TO COPE WITH HOLIDAY STRESS

The good news is that you don’t have to let stress get the best of you this year. Here are 10 ways to cope.

1. Eat healthy when you’re not celebrating the holidays

Although this time of year can make it challenging to prepare healthy meals, grabbing fast food and take-out, and snacking on sugary treats will leave you feeling depleted, anxious and even more stressed out. 

Instead, keep your kitchen stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, healthy fats like avocado and whole grains like quinoa.

Pre-portion smoothie ingredients, keep cut up fruits and veggies in clear containers in the refrigerator, and keep healthy snacks on hand like hummus, nuts and seeds and Greek yogurt.

2. Get the whole family moving

To help combat stress and manage everyone’s moods, carve out time most days of the week to do something active.

If you’re willing to venture out into the cold, go for a brisk walk with your kids or have a game of catch in the backyard.

If the cold isn’t your thing, have an indoor dance party or play a game of Twister.

3. Prioritize sleep

Irregular schedules and later-than-usual bedtimes can throw everyone in the family off schedule.

Without enough sleep, you and your kids will be more irritable and more likely to reach for food and make unhealthy food choices.

In fact, an August 2018 study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that kids who regularly fell asleep after 11pm were 2 to 3 times more likely to eat junk food at least 5 times a week.

Although it may not always be feasible to get you and your kids to bed on time every night, do your best to make a sleep a priority as much as possible.

Also, practice good sleep hygiene: put away the devices 1 to 2 hours before bed because the blue light they emit can make it hard to fall asleep. Also, keep bedrooms cool and wind down with a book, prayer or soothing music.

4. Take a break

To manage holiday stress, make sure you carve out time for intentional relaxation and take a break from the busyness of the season.

Take deep, diaphragmatic breaths, do progressive muscle relaxation, or use a meditation app like Calm or Headspace.

5. SAY “NO”

Although buying presents for your kids has to get done for example, there are so many other things that might seem like obligations but that you can actually say “no” to.

While I can aspire to make a variety of cookies for my kids’ bus drivers, teachers and administrators, and Sunday school teachers, I’ve decided instead to make only one or two types of quick and easy treats like coconut macaroons and Christmas bark.

It’s also a good idea to avoid over scheduling your kids with extras.

Do you really have to go see the Nutcracker? Is it imperative that you have holiday photos taken?

Probably not, so just say “no.”

6. OUTSOURCE YOUR LIST

As moms, we’re often expected to do it all, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

Of all the tasks on your list, there are those that:

  • You tell yourself you should do or you feel pressured to do
  • You’re capable of doing but don’t want to do
  • Actually bring you joy during the holiday season

While there are some tasks you may have to do yourself, there are those that you can delegate or outsource.

For example, a few years ago, I decided sending Christmas cards wasn’t worth all of my time and energy.

It was however, important to my husband, so he took it over.

Every year, he picks out the card and the photos, addresses them and sends them off. It may not be the design or photos I would have chosen, but letting it go means I won’t be so stressed out.

It can be hard to hand over certain tasks to our partners, but it is possible to find opportunities for them to help out.

Perhaps it’s wrapping gifts, going grocery shopping or making a Target run for stocking stuffers.

Accepting that done is better than perfect can be freeing.

If getting your spouse to help out isn’t going to happen, think about other people who can.

Depending on their ages, kids can seal and put stamps on cards or wrap presents for their grandparents, for example.

You could also outsource holiday tasks to a company like FancyHands.com, TaskRabbit.com or Thumbtack.com.

7. LET GO OF PERFECTION

There’s perhaps no other time of year that conjures up perfection in us like the holidays.

We’re inundated with messages about finding the perfect presents, putting up perfect, Pinterest-worthy holiday decorations, making Instagram-worthy cookies, having a perfect holiday and making perfect memories.

The truth is that all of our striving for perfection not only sets us up for disappointment because it’s not realistic, but studies show it can lead to anxiety and depression.

So this year, let go of perfection—whatever that looks like for you.

8. DO GOOD

The holiday season is a time of giving, whether of our time, money or both.

Although volunteering and making charitable donations are worthy causes and make us feel good, it’s easy to to overcommit and feel stretched thin, or surprised when the credit card bill come in.

It’s important to think about what’s realistic for your family.

So although you may want to head up the charity drive in your kid’s school, you may have to take on a smaller role like donating toys or baking brownies instead.

9. LISTEN TO MUSIC

When I’m feeling stressed out, I put on music, whether it’s Christian worship music, 80’s, or Top 40 because research shows, music eases anxiety.

According to a May 2018 meta-analysis in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, music is an effective way to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety and pain in people undergoing a biopsy.

10. REACH OUT

Connecting with other moms who get it can make all the difference in managing holiday stress.

Call or meet a friend for coffee, join a moms’ group like MOPS International, Mocha Moms and MOMS Club, or online communities like CircleOfMoms.com

If your stress level feels overwhelming and it’s affecting other areas of your life and your eating and sleeping habits for example, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you and there’s no shame in asking for help.

Ask your primary care provider for a referral to a psychologist, LCSW or counselor.

How do you manage holiday stress? Let me know in the comments!

14 Ways To Cope With Thanksgiving Stress

14 Ways To Cope With Thanksgiving Stress

Although it’s supposed to be a day to gather with family and friends, make memories and well, give thanks, most moms know that Thanksgiving stress is a real phenomenon.

This is especially true if you’re the one hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Between planning the menu, grocery shopping, timing the Turkey and cooking all the side dishes and desserts, you may also have to think about who is gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan.

And then of course, you have kids who are picky eaters.

Wrapped up in Thanksgiving stress are also the expectations we put on ourselves to have a sparkling clean home, perfect, Pinterest-worthy place settings, and the most delicious, praise-worthy dishes as if Paula Dean made them herself.

Then, you have all of the family dynamics and worrying about who doesn’t get along, who will have something to say about everything, and the potential for political arguments that may ensue.

If the thought of spending an entire day or more with your family adds to your Thanksgiving stress, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, it takes less than 4 hours for people to need a break from their extended family on the holidays.

GOT THANKSGIVING STRESS? ME TOO.

I guess it’s because he’s the most laid back guy I know, but my husband doesn’t understand Thanksgiving stress, or any type of holiday stress for that matter.

Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday, and it’s not because he gets to enjoy the turkey, a glass of wine and the football game all day. It’s actually quite the opposite.

For more than 20 years, the man has worked on Thanksgiving, making sure hundreds of families enjoy their own dinners. But before he leaves for work, he puts the turkey in the oven and leaves me instructions for the rest. Although he doesn’t get home until the latter part of the afternoon, he still looks forward to it every year.

Me? Not so much.

This year, we’re hosting 12 in addition to our 4 in our 1,800 square foot house.

Although my husband is doing most of the cooking, there’s still the pre-guest cleaning, laundry and setting up the guest room, dinner clean-up and post-guest cleaning.

When you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder like I do, all those people, personalities, noise and expectations—many of which are self-imposed— can make me want to run. Suffice to say, I’ll have a glass of wine in my hand. Or a Xanax. Or both. 😀

HOW TO COPE WITH THANKSGIVING STRESS

Although there may not be much you can do to get around hosting and cooking, and you certainly can’t control your family members, there are ways to let go of your expectations and have a stress-free Thanksgiving.

1. Lower Thanksgiving stress by making time for self-care

Before the holiday gets the best of you, carve out some time this week to do things that will lower your stress.

Some ideas include:

  • Take a yoga class
  • Watch an inspirational video
  • Read
  • Listen to uplifting music or calming music
  • Get your nails done or get a massage
  • Meet a friend for coffee
  • FaceTime with your bestie.

It might be tough to find the time, but focusing on self-care can go a long way in coping with Thanksgiving stress.

Related: 10 Tips For Self-Care All Moms Need

2. Fuel up before Thanksgiving dinner

Nothing good can come when you’re running on empty, or hangry.

Pulling together an entire Thanksgiving dinner without eating anything for breakfast will leave you feeling frazzled and depleted.

In the morning, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast that has a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats to keep you going. Eggs with whole grain toast and leftover veggies, or Greek yogurt with berries and nuts are good options.

Depending on what time dinner will be served, consider having a small, healthy snack beforehand to keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent eating until you’re stuffed.

3. Sneak in a workout

You might think I’m crazy, but I need to work out most mornings, especially on a holiday.

A sweat session releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals that make you feel happy and helps ease stress and anxiety.

On Thanksgiving, it may not be feasible to make it to the gym or get in a long run, for example, but even a short 15-minute walk in the neighborhood or a quick HIIT workout can be really effective.

4. Hire a babysitter

When time is tight and your to-do list is long, getting it all done with the kids underfoot is almost impossible.

Lean on your regular babysitter, a family member or swap babysitting with a friend.

Also, check in with your gym, kids’ play spaces and schools who may offer a few hours of care so you can get things done. 

5. Say ‘yes’ to help

When guests ask, what can I bring?, there’s no shame in taking them up on their offers.

Make a list of the dishes you enjoy making or those that don’t take a lot of time to make and delegate the rest.

Let guests bring a side dish, or if they don’t cook, a bottle of wine or a ready-made dessert.

The same goes if they ask to help with the dishes: yes, please!

6. Take shortcuts

Last week, I was having a conversation with my mom about all of the things she used to do to make the holidays special for our family.

Although from my perspective, it seemed like she did everything and it was effortless, she was quick to inform me that after it was all said and done, she was one exhausted mom.

She also pointed out that she took a lot of shortcuts.

Taking shortcuts aren’t a bad thing, but necessary if you’re looking to reduce your Thanksgiving stress.

Think about what types of shortcuts you can take. For example, instead of making the fancy potato dish you planned on, make roasted potatoes instead. Or rather than making cranberry sauce from scratch, pick up the canned version—it’s better anyway.

Although I planned on making a few desserts this year, with both of my kids sick with the flu these past two weeks, I’m making an easy dessert instead of the pumpkin pie from scratch I planned on.

7. Set the table the night before

If using your fine china, setting a traditional table and putting out handcrafted settings are your thing, more power to you, sista.

If you could care less about using your everyday dishes, mismatched glasses and the same cloth napkins you use for Christmas, own that too.

Either way, set the table the night before so it’s one less thing to think about on Thanksgiving.

8. Get the kids involved

When I was a kid, my mom always asked me to set the table for the holidays and I loved to help out. When we were guests in someone else’s home, it was also expected that we help clear the table and wash the dishes—it wasn’t an option.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that many parents nowadays think kids don’t have to help out.

If we don’t teach kids responsibility and manners, especially when you’re at someone else’s house, chances are, they’ll grow up to be young adults who don’t lift a finger either.

Depending on their ages, kids can take guests’ coats, or help with the cooking, setting the table, putting out the food, clearing the dishes and loading the dishwasher.

9. Make some of the meal ahead of time

Aside from the turkey, many side dishes can be cooked, or at least prepared a day or two ahead of time and then cooked or re-heated on Thanksgiving.

For dishes that must be made the day of, save time by washing and chopping onions, garlic, and vegetables, for example, beforehand.

10. Let guests help themselves to drinks

Keeping everyone’s drinks filled takes time—time that can be spent with your guests.

To make things easier, set up a cooler with water bottles, drinks for kids and beer.

On the kitchen counter or center island, put out bottles of wine, a beverage dispenser with cocktails, and glasses so guests can serve themselves.

11. Don’t worry about your picky eaters

When you have picky eaters, Thanksgiving stress can be taken up a notch.

You might worry how your kids will handle all the new foods, what they’ll eat or if they’ll eat at all.

Don’t fret, but consider giving your kids a small, healthy snack before you arrive to Thanksgiving dinner. If they refuse to eat, or only want a piece of bread, it won’t be a big deal.

I don’t recommend preparing a separate meal for your child, unless of course he can’t eat gluten or has food allergies.

Having a separate meal on hand teaches kids that you’ll accommodate them and cater to their preferences.

You can however, have a dish you know your kid— and everyone else—will enjoy. Need recipes? Check out 10 Fun Kid Thanksgiving Food Ideas.

 

12. Keep everyone moving

 

Kids running around the house can intensify Thanksgiving stress, so try to prepare ahead of time with crafts, gratitude activities or table games that can keep them busy.

If the weather is mild enough, encourage everyone to go out for a walk around the block or have a game of catch before or after dinner.

 

13. Focus on thanks and giving

It’s easy to get caught up in the food, the decor and the perfect everything but Thanksgiving is all about gratitude and family and/or friends.

Focusing on what you’re thankful for, whether you tell others around the table or not, can lower your Thanksgiving stress.

Maybe you’re thankful for your job, a health scare that is no more, or the fact that your kids made it through dinner without fighting—it’s the little things, right? 😀

 

14. Let it go

 

You can’t control what your mother-in-law may say about your parenting skills and so what that the turkey was a little on the dry side?

At the end of the day, everyone will eat and celebrate the holiday together.

Pat yourself on the back for getting it all done and remember: it’s not worth any more of your emotional energy. Draw yourself a bath, make a cup of tea and let it go, let it go!

What are some of the ways you lower Thanksgiving stress? Let me know in the comments!

10 Tips for Self Care All Moms Need

10 Tips for Self Care All Moms Need

     Self-care has been the buzzword of the last two years, with tons of books, websites and experts offering up their best advice. Just google self-care and you’ll get more than 2 billion results! And a survey by wellness company Shine found that 91 percent of millennial women said self-care is more important now than it was two years ago.

But let’s face it, when you’re a busy mom, self-care usually falls to the bottom of your list. In fact, according to a survey by HealthyWomen and Working Mother magazine, a whopping 78 percent of women said they often put off taking care of themselves or making their own doctors’ appointments because they’re so busy taking care of their other family members’ health.

I’ll admit that when I feel anxious, stressed out and stretched thin—which is the way I feel most of the time with generalized anxiety disorder—my mom, friends and my therapist have talked to me about self-care.

“Work less.”

“Go get your nails done.”

“Take a weekend getaway—alone.”


They all meant well of course, but between work, this blog, a husband who works long hours, a special needs child, and everything else that’s required to keep the wheels turning, every single time I’ve thought to myself, Self-care? Who has time for that?!

I mean, I eat healthy, workout 5 to 6 days a week, get enough sleep, and make time for God: isn’t that enough?

I also struggle with the feeling that self-care means being selfish. Maybe it was because when we were kids, self-care wasn’t a thing anyone talked about.

But in recent months, I’m realizing it’s something I need. I must make space in my life for self-care and things that bring me happiness and peace.

Self-care may be a foreign concept to you too, and it may be challenging to carve out the time for yourself. Still, it’s important to take the first step. So today, I’ve got 10 tips for self-care for you to consider.

 

 

What is self care? Self care definition

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of self-care is:


“the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”


They go on to say that self-care is a broad concept that also includes things like hygiene (does getting your nails done count?), eating healthy, exercise, leisure activities, as well as things like the place we live and how much money we earn.

Self-care can be a host of different things and it’s completely individual.

For one mom, it may mean finding simple meal plan hacks in order to make healthy meals or finding the time to work out. For another mom it might mean asking their supervisor for a more flexible work schedule, or getting to bed earlier, asking a spouse to do more, or simply meditating for 5 minutes instead of watching Netflix.

 

10 Tips for Self Care


Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost anything. There are small changes you can make in your life that can make a big difference in your physical, mental and emotional health.


1. Eat healthy…yes, it is possible!

The single best thing you can do when it comes to self-care is to make eating healthy a priority. It’s not just something you should do, but something that can give you more energy, help you think more clearly, have less anxiety and help you feel like the rockstar you are.

Of course, focusing on real, whole foods can also help you lose weight and fuel your workouts.

On the flip side, if you often skip meals, eat on the run, or find yourself binging at night, these are things that are important to address.

Another benefit of eating healthy is that when you model healthy eating habits for your kids, they’ll be more likely to follow suit, which can cut down on picky eating and mealtime battles.

A misnomer about preparing healthy meals is that it’s time consuming, but nothing could be further from the truth. By doing some prep work ahead of time and sticking to the basics for example, there are easy, healthy ways to eat healthy.

 

2. Give yourself a time-out

Just like kids need time to calm down when their behavior is out of control, we also need quiet time to sit still and gain perspective when everything seems to be crashing down around us.

If you’re a type-A mom like I am, sitting for 2 minutes can feel like torture. But challenging yourself to carve out time each and every day just for you can help you de-compress.

This could mean getting up 20 minutes before everyone else to read, use a meditation app, pray, watch an inspirational video or do a visualization exercise. Or if you can swing it, it could be carving out 2 hours every Saturday to meet a friend for coffee, or take your favorite Yoga class while your partner shuttles the kids to activities.

 

3. One of the best tips for self care is to get moving

Whether it’s running, lifting weights or my favorite BODYCOMBAT class, a sweat session at the gym makes me feel energetic, optimistic, confident and more calm.

The benefits of exercise are endless: a lower risk for chronic health conditions and cancer, improved brain health, better sleep and a longer life. But exercise also releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that make you feel happy and prepared to face the day.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans say adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.

But if you can only make time for a 15-minute workout a few days a week, it’s better than nothing.

If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, you can still get a great workout at home or in your community. Walking, running, biking, swimming or using one of the many fitness apps at home can be a fun and realistic way to fit it in.

To ensure nothing else gets in the way, make an appointment with yourself and block it out on your calendar.

I like to work out in the early morning because I tend to lose motivation as the day goes on. But maybe after-dinner or during your lunch hour are the best times. Whenever it is, find what works for you.

 

4. Re-think your life

Whether you work full-time, part-time, or not at all, we all have too much on our plates. No surprise here, but a recent survey by Motherly found 62 percent of moms say in the last day, they had less than hour to themselves without work or family obligations.

This is a big problem with no easy solution. Most days, I come up short with a solution of how to slow down. In recent months however, I have been getting better at saying no:

“No, I can’t take the lead on this volunteer project anymore—can you step up?”

“No, we can’t attend Johnny’s birthday party, but we hope he has a blast!”

“No, I won’t research this for you, even though I’m always the one who does it.”

Think about the obligations you can bow out of, events you don’t have to go to, and extras you can so “no” to, no matter how worthy of a cause they may be. Instead, think about what matters now in this season of your life and make those a priority.

 

5. Tips for self care include making sleep non-negotiable

We live in a society that says sleeping 5 hours a night and burning the midnight oil are good things. We’re efficient, can get things done and we’ve managed to handle it all, but have we really?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 10 percent of people prioritize sleep even though we all should be getting between 7 and 9 hours a night. What’s more, a September 2019 study in the Journal of Community Health found that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep each night increased from 30.9% in 2010 to 35.6% in 2018.

It’s important to consider how much sleep you really need to function and feel like yourself and then figure out ways to make it happen. Maybe it means putting off the laundry another day, paying bills on the weekends, or closing out social media an hour earlier and hitting the sack.

 

6. Re-think work

When you become a mom everything changes, especially when it comes to career and work. In fact, more than half of millennial women said they made changes to their work status once they became moms, the same survey by Motherly found. While some women can “lean in,” others don’t have the financial means or the desire to do so.

Yet practicing self-care also applies to work. Depending on your family’s financial situation, it may not be feasible to quit your job for example, but there are other ways to make work and self-care work for you. Maybe your boss will allow you to work a more flexible schedule, transition to a more flexible role or work from home.

If not, it may be time to look for another opportunity. Two organizations I recommend are The Mom Project and The Second Shift.

Opening up a business may also be an option or if you already have one, it could mean getting an intern or hiring a virtual assistant to help out.

 

7. Be intentional

The only way to ensure that you have time for self-care is to put you on your schedule. Like I said before, if I don’t go to the gym first thing in the morning, it’s not going to happen.

Schedule your workouts, carve out time to make individual portions of smoothie ingredients for the week, or schedule one night a month to meet friends for dinner. 

 

8. Stay connected

Regardless of how busy we are, being a mom can be very isolating especially if you’re stay at home mom or work from home. It’s important therefore, to find ways to forge friendships and stay connected with other like-minded moms or “mom mentors,” who are older.

For me, that means meeting with “My Crew,” a group of friends from church at least once a month. But it could also be signing up for a dance or art class, volunteering for a cause that’s near to your heart, or organizing a mom’s night out with moms from your kid’s class.

The key isn’t to add one more thing to your to do list, but to do something that makes you feel connected with women who get it.

 

9. Download self care apps

When it comes to tips for self care, it can be as easy as downloading an app. When you’re short on time, there are self-care apps like Headspace, the Calm app or Stop, Breathe and Think. For workouts, I recommend Love Sweat Fitness, Les Mills or Every Mother.

 

10. Get self care books

My journey to more intentional self-care started this year after I read Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist. I also enjoyed Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. If you like to reflect and write, you might want to try Choose You: A Guided Self-Care Journal Made Just for You!, by Sara Robinson.

 

What are some of your best tips for self care? Let me know in the comments!

The Truth About Being A Mom With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The Truth About Being A Mom With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Being a mom is hands down the hardest job you’ll ever have but for some moms who also struggle with anxiety, depression or another form of mental illness, parenting is that much tougher. As a mom with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), I live with that struggle every day.

I’ve had anxiety since childhood, but shortly after I graduated from college, I saw a therapist who finally put a name to the constant worry about everything and anything that I was experiencing.

Writing about my challenges as a mom with generalized anxiety disorder is not easy because let’s face it: there is still a huge stigma around mental illness.

Yet the truth is that although being a mom with generalized anxiety disorder makes life challenging, it hasn’t held me back in life. I have a thriving writing business, a loving family and supportive friends. GAD doesn’t make a person weak (quite the opposite) and it’s not a character flaw, so if you are a mom who struggles with GAD, I want you to know, there is hope.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

GAD is a type of anxiety disorder that’s marked by constant, excessive worry around just about anything: health, work, family, and finances. GAD puts a negative lens on your outlook on life and causes you to anticipate the worst about things that are happening or could happen, whether they’re likely to or not.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 6.8 million adults have GAD but women are twice as likely to be affected. 

GAD can occur at any age, but it usually shows up between childhood and middle age—the typical onset is 31, which of course, is right around the time many women have their children.

For me, when I wake up in the morning, I do my best to pray and be still, but my heart and my brain are always off to the races.

I think about the what-ifs and the how-will-Is and the when-will-Is and the what-if-I- dos and what-if-I-don’ts.

As I try to plan and feel in control of my life, the worry ramps up that much more and everything feels even more out of control.

But it doesn’t only happen in the morning. It continues throughout the day and into the night until I finally fall asleep.

When it comes to work, GAD has its benefits and its drawbacks. As a health journalist, I think it has helped me track down stories, stay organized and make all of the deadlines.

But as you can imagine, writing about health all day can also cause my anxiety to ramp up and make me think, what if I have that condition too?

I also often worry about making deadlines and getting all the work done—even when there’s no reason to worry. 

These thoughts can take over so quickly that one minute you’re feeling fine and the next you’re not. For example, earlier this year when my provider said I was anemic and suggested I see a specialist, I headed to Google and I diagnosed myself: cancer!

As a mom with generalized anxiety disorder, it’s also no surprise that I often worry about my kids, but probably more than a mom without the disorder.

For example, my kids are in elementary school but when I check on them at night, I still check to make sure they’re breathing. When one of them gets a cold or has a stomachache, I worry that it’s something more serious.

When my husband takes my daughters out to run an errand, I make sure to give them hugs and kisses and then start to worry, what if they all die in a car accident?

And if my husband says he’ll be home by 7pm, and it’s 7:05, I immediately think he’s been in a car accident too.

Money is another hot button issue when you have GAD. Although we’re fortunate and can pay our bills and save, I worry that one or both of us will lose our jobs, not be able to pay the bills and go into debt.

Another way being a mom with generalized anxiety affects my life is that I feel overwhelmed by every responsibility big or small: cooking, cleaning, Target runs, the kids’ homework, their doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences and meetings, paying the bills, sending in health insurance claims.

The list goes on and on.

GAD can also make me irritable. When my kids act silly, run around the house, have a meltdown or shriek with happiness because their dad is tickling them, it feels like fingernails on a chalkboard.

It all sounds completely irrational—because it is—but getting yourself out of the worry cycle is tough. People can tell me “be positive,” “relax” or “stop worrying,” but if it were that easy, then no one would have GAD.

GAD Symptoms and Signs

If you experience anxiety from time to time or around a certain life stressor, you know what it feels like. But for people with GAD, they find it hard to control the anxiety, and experience 3 or more of the following symptoms for 6 months or longer:

  • Feeling nervous, irritable, restless, or on edge

  • Being easily fatigued, feeling weak or lightheaded

  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • Muscle aches and tension, headaches, stomach aches and other pain

  • Problems falling or staying asleep

  • Having a sense of impending doom, danger or panic

  • Increased heart rate

  • Rapid breathing, sweating and/or trembling

  • Feeling easily startled

 

GAD causes and risk factors

It’s unclear what causes GAD but experts say biological processes and the brain  play a role as well as:

Genetics: GAD runs in some families.

Personality: people who are negative or apprehensive and avoid danger may be more likely to have GAD. 

Life experiences: significant life changes, stressful or negative experiences, and trauma may all contribute. 

People with GAD are also more likely to be diagnosed with other mental health disorders including:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide

GAD Treatment

When it comes to effective treatments for generalized anxiety disorder, there are several options.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapy which helps you to identify, understand, challenge and change irrational thoughts and behaviors.

CBT has been very helpful for me through the years. You can find a trained therapist but I also recommend “The Feeling Good Handbook,” by David D. Burns. 

Medication
There are several types of medications that doctors prescribe for GAD including antidepressants, benzodiazepines and buspirone, an anti-anxiety medication.

Before you take medication, I recommend you ask your doctor to run a genetic test to determine which ones are right for you.

While medication does help some people, it didn’t for me. I also don’t believe they’re as effective as doctors and the pharmaceutical industry pegs them out to be.

To learn more, read “A Mind Of Your Own,” by Kelly Brogan, M.D. or at least read some of her blog posts about the dangers of antidepressants and how to help yourself with diet and lifestyle.

Relaxation techniques
Deep breathing exercises and techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense every part of your body and then release, can help ease anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation, a practice that focuses on breathing, mind-body relaxation and accepting your feelings and thoughts, has become mainstream and may help those with GAD. In fact, a March 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests 30 minutes a day of meditation may improve symptoms of anxiety and stress.

How I cope with being a mom with generalized anxiety disorder


Although GAD is a daily struggle for me, there are several ways I’ve found through the years that help me cope.

Eat healthy
In my 20’s, when I ate a lot of processed foods and ate out a lot, my anxiety was much worse. Today, I eat a mostly whole foods diet that consists of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources including many plant-based foods, whole grains, and healthy fats. I also work with a naturopath who has prescribed supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies and help ease anxiety.

Exercise
Whether it’s running, lifting weights or taking my favorite BODYCOMBAT class, sweating it out at the gym 5 to 6 days a week is a must to help me cope with GAD.

Get enough sleep
Sleep was definitely hard to come by when my daughters were babies—and even for years afterwards when they would wake up during the night. But now I try my best to prioritize sleep and get 7 to 8 hours because when I don’t get enough, it really affects my mood.

Volunteer
Every month, my daughters and I volunteer at a local non-profit organization where we “shop” for and deliver groceries to families in need. Not only does it help others and teach my kids how fortunate they are, but it helps me put things in perspective when I’m in a negative rut.

And science actually backs this up. According to a September 2017 study in the Journal of Clinical Pyschology, people who had anxiety and/or depression and focused on “compassionate goals,” or striving to help others and avoid selfish behavior, was associated with lower levels of symptoms and less relationship conflict.

Laugh
The old adage laughter is the best medicine is important when you have GAD because it helps you change your perspective. For me, it can be watching a funny show, or videos of Kristina Kuzmic or Cat and Nat. Most of the time however, it’s my husband who makes me laugh about anything and everything—sometimes so hard I can’t breathe!

Relax
When life gets stressful, my anxiety ramps up. Although it’s really hard to relax when you’re a mom with generalized anxiety disorder, I try to carve out time at night or on the weekends to sit, read and relax.

Faith
Last, but certainly not least, my faith in God has been a tremendous source of strength in my life. When worry and anxiety consume me, I turn to the Lord, pray and ask for his strength. By His grace, he helps me through.

10 Tips for Being a Happy, Healthy Mom

10 Tips for Being a Happy, Healthy Mom

You know those moms on Instagram who have perfectly blown out hair and flawless make-up and they look like the happiest moms around?

Or maybe you know a mom like that in your local community or from your kid’s school.

I sure do and I don’t like it.

Most of the time, I’m a hot mess: my hair is in a ponytail, I have no make-up on whatsoever, and I’m dressed in workout gear.

I often fall into the comparison camp, wondering, why can’t I pull it together like they do? 

What I’ve learned throughout the years as a mom, is moms don’t have it all together and if someone tells you they do, they’re in denial or lying.

Being a mom is the hardest, most exhausting job you’ll ever have and one that never has a day off.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we can have it all, despite what society tells us. There will be some element of sacrifice, trade-off, or not feeling the same way you did before you had kids.

It’s uncomfortable and disheartening for sure, but I think it’s part of being a mom.

That’s not to say however, that you can’t be a happy, healthy mom. Here are 10 easy, realistic tips that can help you re-gain your former self.

1. Carve out me-time

A few years ago, my therapist told me that just like on a plane, “you need to put on your oxygen mask first.”

I knew she was right, but with all that I had to do in any given day, it seemed impossible—and most of the time, it still does.

I usually put everyone’s needs before my own and as a result, I feel depleted, anxious, stressed and overall, unhealthy.

I won’t suggest that it’s easy to find time for yourself, because it definitely isn’t.

I also don’t claim to do it well, but in the last year or so, I’ve done a better job at carving out time for myself.

Although it’s not trips to the spa or countless hours curled up with a good novel, it is more intentional: 20 to 30 minutes in the morning to read the Bible or a devotional and pray. Or 30 minutes at night to read.  Or blocking out my calendar to take my favorite classes at the gym.

It can be difficult to make time for yourself, but if you don’t do it, no one else will.

 

 

 

2. Eat healthy

When there’s so much to do and not a lot of time, or you have a new baby at home, getting healthy meals on the table can be challenging.

Avoiding fast food, and processed, packaged foods and a ton of sugar and focusing on fresh, healthy, whole-foods however, is one of the best things you can do to be a healthy, happy mom.

When you model how to eat healthy for your kids, they’ll be more likely to want to eat healthy too. You also won’t have to deal with a ton of picky eating and power struggles at the table.

A misnomer about preparing healthy meals is that it’s time consuming but nothing could be further from the truth. By doing some prep work on the weekends, cooking in bulk and sticking to the basics, you can get dinner on the table in no time.

3. Eat breakfast

You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your kids, but it’s for you as well.

A healthy breakfast is important because it gives you energy, prevents low blood sugar—and that hangry feeling—and prevents overeating throughout the day.

While the jury is still out on whether eating breakfast prevents weight gain, there is evidence that skipping breakfast is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

In fact, an April 2019 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who skip breakfast have an 87 percent increased risk of cardiovascular-related death compared to those who eat breakfast every day.

Starting the day off with breakfast can also make it more likely that you’ll make healthy choices throughout the day. According to a March 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight adults who eat breakfast are more likely to be physically active in the morning.

4. Keep healthy snacks on hand

When late afternoon hunger strikes, your energy levels are dipping and you’re vying for a pick-me-up, a coffee run can help but you should also fuel up with healthy snacks.

Instead of relying on something in a bag, box or canister, have foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and nut butters, or Greek yogurt on hand.

Take the guesswork out of snacks by washing, prepping and cutting up your fruits and vegetables ahead of time and setting aside individual grab-and-go containers or re-sealable plastic food bags.

5. Get moving

A sweat session at the gym makes me feel like a rock star. Not only does exercise prevent me from gaining weight, it has made me physically stronger.

Since I also deal with anxiety and depression, it’s a must-have to boost my mood.

Of course, the benefits of exercise are endless: a lower risk for chronic health conditions and cancer, improved brain health, better sleep and a longer life.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. But if all you can do is 15 minutes, it’s better than nothing.

If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, you can still get a great workout at home or in your community.

Walking, running, biking, swimming or using one of the many fitness apps at home can be a fun and realistic way to fit it in.

To ensure it nothing else gets in the way, make an appointment with yourself and block it out on your calendar.

I like to work out in the early morning because I tend to lose motivation as the day goes on. But maybe after-dinner or your lunch hour are the best times. Whenever it is, find a way that works for you.

6. Prioritize your sleep

Sleep is important for your physical and mental health: it affects your hormones, immune system, appetite and your overall function.

But getting enough sleep is pretty much a pipe dream for most moms, whether they have babies or big kids.

Also, when you finally settle in at night, doing something for yourself may feel more important than sleep. Although it’s not easy, on the nights when you can turn in 30 minutes or an hour earlier, do so.

7. Find ways to relax 

Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to relax and cope with stress and anxiety, but it’s also important to find something that’s realistic and works for you.

Perhaps it’s reading, watching an inspirational video, doing a visualization exercise or calling a friend to talk.

 

8. Practice gratitude

There will always be someone else who is smarter, has more money or seems to have been dealt a better deck, but practicing gratitude as much as possible—even every day—is a proven way to increase happiness.

In fact, a May 2016 study in the journal Psychotherapy Research found people who wrote letters to others about gratitude reported improved mental health compared to those who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling.

 

9. Have sex

Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, sex is one of the best things you can do to be a healthy, happy mom.

Sure, you’re probably exhausted at the end of the day but sex is pleasurable, builds intimacy with your partner, and is associated with marital bliss over time.

Sex has other physical and mental health benefits: a stronger immune system, reduced risk of heart disease and hypertension, less headaches, improved sleep, better brain health, less stress, better self-esteem and a longer life.

10. Recognize when you need help

Postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 10 women nationwide but it often goes unrecognized and is not always an easy, clear-cut diagnosis, especially because the signs can be subtle.

While there’s a big focus on postpartum depression, what you should know is that moms also suffer with depression and anxiety when they’re pregnant or years after they’ve given birth.

If you’ve been feeling anxious, depressed or just not like yourself, there’s nothing wrong with getting help, or at the very least, talking to a friend. To find resources in your area, reach out to Postpartum Support International.

What are some things that help you to be a healthy, happy mom? Let me know in the comments.

7 Ways Busy Moms Can Cope With Holiday Stress

7 Ways Busy Moms Can Cope With Holiday Stress

As moms, our lives are hectic enough but when the holidays roll around, our stress levels get ramped up even more.

According to a report by the American Psychological Association (APA), 44 percent of women (versus 31 percent of men) say they have more stress during the holiday season.

Whether you’re at home with little ones all day or a working mother, chances are all the holiday to-do’s fall on your shoulders.

Between sending Christmas cards, purchasing and wrapping gifts, shuttling kids to Nutcracker rehearsals and attending school performances and holiday parties, the list can seem endless.

Add to that the stress of traveling or hosting guests, combined with challenging family dynamics, and the holidays can make for one stressed out mom.

But the holidays don’t have to—nor should they be—a season of stress. With a small shift in mindset and a few simple tactics, the holidays can be filled with faith, hope and love.

Here are 7 ways to cope with holiday stress.

1. Focus on what matters most

 To lower your stress level, think about what’s really important to you and your family and focus your energy on that.

For our family, it’s important that my kids know first and foremost that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, what his birth means and what a magical event it is. As a result, when we talk about Christmas, we center our conversations about our faith.

Santa, the gifts and the cookies are a part of my kids’ experience, but they are all fun extras.

2. Rethink traditions

When I was child, our family’s annual Christmas Eve tradition meant that we didn’t get home until 2am in the morning. Everyone was expected to stay until the end and no one deviated from the tradition.

Like it or not, today’s generation is more willing to buck the trend.

Although our family continues the same type of tradition today, we’ve had to adapt the timing so we’re home at a decent hour to put out the gifts and cookies for Santa and to get sleep. Luckily, the older generation is more flexible and understanding of our desire to get home early.

When it comes to family traditions, the expectation might exist, but that doesn’t mean your family has to follow suit. You can make changes to the tradition or say ‘no’ altogether.

Although not everyone in the family will be happy with your choices, if changing the way things have always be done means your holidays will be less stressful and more enjoyable, so be it.

3. Be realistic

Your goal might be to make 5 dozen Christmas cookies, buy thoughtful gifts for all of your kids’ teachers, and meet your friends for your annual holiday dinner.

But if trying to do everything is going to leave you stretched thin, maybe it’s not realistic for you and your life.

Instead, think about ways you can cut back or cross things of your list. That might mean making one or two types of cookies, buying gift cards for the teachers and planning drinks with your friends in the new year, for example.

4. Have a holiday stress-busting ritual

The more stressed out you are, the less likely you’ll be to eat healthy, exercise and make sleep a priority—all habits that are important for combating stress.

Having a daily or weekly ritual can help too. It could be a weekly yoga class, 20 minutes when you wake up in the morning for prayer and/or meditation, carving out time in your schedule to attend your favorite HIIT class or taking a warm bath after the kids have gone to bed.

5. Forget the gifts

Every year, I get really stressed searching for the perfect gift for adults in our family. I also don’t want to feel obligated to buy gifts—I want to give from my heart.

That’s why this year, both sides of our family decided not to give gifts but to donate to a charity instead. We all agreed that gifts should be only for the kids.

If donating to a charity doesn’t fly with your clan, suggest a Secret Santa or a grab bag instead, which is more affordable and takes less time.

6. Get help

As women, we’re expected to do it all, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

Of all the tasks on your list, there are those you tell yourself you should do or you feel pressured to do, those you’re capable of doing but don’t want to do, and those that actually bring you joy.

We can make choices about what we’re going to do and what we’re not. For example, a few years ago, I decided sending Christmas cards wasn’t worth all the time and energy it took.

It was however, important to my husband, so he took over the task. He picks out the card and the photos, addresses them and sends them off. It may not be what I would have chosen, but letting it go means I won’t be so stressed out.

It can be hard to hand over certain tasks to our partners, but it is possible to find opportunities for them to help out. Perhaps it’s wrapping gifts, going grocery shopping or making a Target run for stocking stuffers.

Accepting that done is better than perfect can be freeing.

If getting your spouse to help out isn’t going to happen, think about other people who can.

Depending on their ages, kids can seal and put stamps on cards or wrap presents for their grandparents, for example.

You could also outsource tasks to a company like FancyHands.com for booking travel, making restaurant reservations or purchasing gifts.

7. Hire a babysitter

When time is tight and your list is long, getting it all done with kids underfoot is almost impossible.

Lean on your regular babysitter, a family member or swap babysitting with a friend.

Also, check in with your gym, kids’ play spaces and schools who may offer a few hours of care so you can get things done.

6 Subtle Signs of Postpartum Depression  For many moms, postpartum depression goes undiagnosed. I was one of them.

6 Subtle Signs of Postpartum Depression

For many moms, postpartum depression goes undiagnosed. I was one of them.

Four years ago, I found myself in the office of a therapist who specialized in postpartum depression.

My second child was already 18-months-old by that point and from what I had read and written about postpartum depression, there was no way I had it.

I thought moms with the condition felt sad, cried a lot and felt detached from their babies. I also thought those symptoms showed up within weeks after giving birth.

My story wasn’t like that at all.

I had a positive birth experience with a midwife and supportive husband by my side.

I felt so great in fact, that I spent only one night in the hospital.

The day after I came home, we even hosted family in our home for Easter and I was happy and energetic. I already felt like I was settling into our new life with a 2-year-old and a newborn.

Everything seemed just fine.

Two days later at my daughter’s well visit, I was asked to fill out a screening for postpartum depression and I was flippant about it. I quickly checked off the answers and thought, I don’t have time for this.

For the next year and half, I cared for my daughters, worked part-time and went to the gym regularly. I cooked our meals and made homemade baby food. I cleaned my home every week like clockwork and did everything else that had to get done.

I was high functioning for sure, not the disconnected mother I had envisioned a mom with postpartum depression to look like.

And besides, so much time had passed.

As I spoke to the therapist however, she explained that despite all that, what I was experiencing was in fact, postpartum depression.

As I did more research, I realized that I had likely had the condition since my first daughter was born and no one, not even me, picked up on it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 9 women nationwide and in some states, as many as 1 in 5 have the condition.

Despite how common it is however, it often goes unrecognized and is not always an easy, clear-cut diagnosis. When it is diagnosed, less than half of women get treatment, according to a February 2015 study in the journal CNS Spectrums.

Whether you’re a new mom or know someone who is, it’s important to recognize the signs—no matter how subtle they may be—and know where to turn for help.

1. Anxiety

I was no stranger to anxiety, having experienced it since childhood, but after my daughters were born it ramped up even more.

When my kids were sleeping, I constantly checked to make sure they were breathing, they were still lying on their bellies, and their swaddles hadn’t come undone, potentially suffocating them.

When I was driving, I not only worried that we would get into a car accident, but that another car would hit my car on the side where my kids sat.

It doesn’t make much sense that you can be anxious and depressed at the same time, but anxiety is actually one of the symptoms of postpartum depression. In fact, The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the screening tool used to diagnose postpartum depression, includes questions about anxiety, panic and overwhelm.

Some moms who have the same type of irrational fears I did, can suffer from postpartum anxiety or postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These and other perinatal anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder are about as common as postpartum depression.

2. Irritability

The weeks and months after I gave birth felt so incredibly stressful. I lacked patience for everyone and everything.

I was constantly frazzled—trying to balance interviews, writing and pumping my breast milk, all in the short amount of time I had our sitter caring for my kids.

Unlike my first daughter who would breastfeed like clockwork and be done, my second liked to nurse what felt like all the time and would cry the minute I put her down.

If you feel on edge, you’re not able to relax, or you’re short and snappy with your husband and other people in your life, take note. True, you’re already exhausted and the lack of sleep can make you feel irritable but if those feelings persist, it could be due to postpartum depression.

3. Changes in appetite

A change in your appetite is perhaps one of the most significant, but subtle signs of postpartum depression.

Despite being a chef, cookbook author and foodie, Chrissy Teigan has said that when she had no interest in cooking or eating she realized it was time to seek help for postpartum depression.

When you have a new baby, it’s rare that you’ll have time to sit down to a meal so you might find yourself skipping meals or overeating when you do have time to eat.

Yet if you have a lack of appetite or find yourself overeating or binging to decompress, cope with tough feelings or to fight fatigue, it might also be due to postpartum depression.

4. Feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and regret

There are so many decisions you have to make when you become a mom.

Whether it’s choosing to breastfeed, going back to work and picking the right pediatrician, it can all feel very overwhelming.

If you get stuck and find it hard to make decisions, no matter how minor or significant they may be, or you doubt, regret or beat yourself up about a decision you made, it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

5. Insomnia

With a newborn at home, sleep is already hard to come by. If you have other children who don’t sleep through the night, it can be even more challenging.

If you find it difficult to fall asleep, or toss and turn throughout the night, talk to your doctor because it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

6. Feeling like a failure

After the birth of my first child, I constantly compared myself to other new moms including family, friends and those I knew in the community.

Of course, photos of happy moms with their cute, “perfect” children on social media didn’t help either.

Everyone else seemed to have it all together and handle new motherhood with ease while I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

I struggled nearly every day with feelings of inadequacy as a mom. I frequently told my husband, I’m not a good mom, I’m not cut out for this and I’m failing.

Motherhood didn’t come easy for me and I knew I wasn’t happy, but I thought it was my fault. I thought I simply didn’t know how to be a mom, but now I know that was the depression duping me.

Although I think it’s safe to say we all feel overwhelmed by motherhood from time to time and we doubt our decisions, when these feelings persist, it’s time to seek help.

How To Find Help

If you have any of these signs, or you simply don’t feel like yourself, it’s important to seek help.

Postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It’s a real, diagnosable condition and there are effective treatments available.

Tell someone

Talk to your doctor or midwife about your symptoms, whether you gave birth 2 weeks or 2 years ago.

She can screen you for postpartum depression and refer you to a therapist who can help. If you feel like you can’t take that first step, talk to your partner, a family member or friend who can put the wheels in motion for you.

Find help

Postpartum Support International is an amazing resource for new moms. They offer phone and online support, referrals to local therapists and support groups.

Get support

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) was a lifesaver for me. They welcomed me with a warm breakfast, someone to watch my kids for 2 hours and a group of real moms who listened, understood and were supportive. Although it can feel hard to be social, try to find a moms’ group that provides a safe, supportive space.

Ask for what you need

As I said, I had no idea I had postpartum depression. I was checking things off my list, going full throttle 24/7, and having an I can do it all mentality but I rarely accepted help or took time for myself.

All moms need help, but if you have postpartum depression, it’s even more important.

Ask your partner to take a feeding, cook dinner or take over some of the household duties. If you can afford to do so, hire a postpartum doula, a baby nurse or an au pair.

If your parents or in-laws have the time and offer to help, take them up on it. They can take your baby for a walk in the stroller, read to your baby, or help prepare dinner.

Say yes to any help you can get.

If you have thoughts of suicide, please don’t suffer in silence. There is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255)