The last thing you want to be is a depressed mom. Here are some things that could be behind those feelings.
Being a mom of young kids is SO HARD.
It is a short season, but still a trying one.
You know your body needs sleep, but you’re up all night with feedings, nightmares, and checking on feverish littles.
You know social interactions are key to well-being, but you barely see your friends, think play dates are more trouble than they’re worth, and can only manage to have evenings out with friends once in a blue moon.
Also, you know what you eat matters, but not only do you not have the time to cook like you used to, but you don’t have the energy or creativity.
You know exercising helps with mood, but you’re hardly ever away from the kids, are sick of them climbing all over you while doing a YouTube exercise video, and don’t have a gym with childcare in your area.
Seriously… life with little kids is so hard.
5 Things That Make You Feel Like A Depressed Mom — And Strategies To Help!
I believe that this time where the kids are so tiny and dependent on you is one of the hardest mentally for mothers.
Life is completely different now than ever before, and it’s a tough adjustment.
If you’ve been feeling depressed and blue, know that you are not alone. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and there is hope!
You might feel like a depressed mom if… your body is out of balance
I want to start off by saying that depression is, of course, a chemical imbalance.
Sometimes the chemical imbalance is the root and sometimes it’s fruit of something else going on in life that isn’t quite balanced.
Whether it’s hormone related and manifesting as postpartum depression or simply something that’s always been there, under the surface, there are still lifestyle choices that can make a huge difference.
If you are struggling with depression (or think you are beginning to) then find a doctor you trust that will listen to you.
If there are lifestyle choices that’ll help you find freedom, trust your intuition and add those to your doctor’s advice.
You might feel like a depressed mom if… you feel like you’re doing life alone
The research shows that having friends and social support can actually lengthen your life.
I’ll type it again… an active social life with those whom you can lean on… can lengthen your life.
If that’s the case, feelings of isolation and loneliness are like slow death to the soul. That sounds a bit dramatic, but if you’ve ever moved to a new place, been without friends, or felt isolated… you know it’s true.
- Share your heart with a friend. Whether they live far off or close by, truly share how you are feeling. Keeping a Brave Face can backfire because no one knows you’re struggling.
- Get to know people out of your age group. It’s very hard to get together moms of young kids because we’re all strung out. Find older mothers or women in your church and community. They are often less busy, more flexible, and happy to pour into the lives of others.
- Join something weekly/ monthly. Whether it’s a Bible study or a hiking club, find something that meets regularly and commit to it. Yes, it’s hard and you might have to get a sitter, but regular social interaction does so much good.
- Be honest about your struggles. You are not as unique as you think you are in your problems, and I hope that is comforting. Sometimes being vulnerable with others will have a cascading effect.
You might feel like a depressed mom if… you always feel overwhelmed by life
One of the quickest ways to get down in the doldrums is to be stressed and overwhelmed.
We all get that way at times.
The key is to realize when it has gone from being a Season Of Overwhelm to being a Life Of Overwhelm with no end to the stress in sight.
Not only will this result in your body chemistry being off and your Fight Or Flight being on, it can eventually turn into something chronic.
Let’s dig deeper
- Talk to a counselor. If you can’t afford a counselor, talk to a pastor. Overwhelm has a way of making us blind to solutions that are available. We are in survival mode and unable to get out on our own. Get help.
- Try to focus on the forest, not the trees. We can never get everything done. Half of what we get done will not be quite right. This is normal for many people. But if you have a Type A personality everything seems overwhelming because there’s so much more added to your list that doesn’t have to be there. Focus on your big goals, forget about small things.
- Get help. If you are feeling desperate, ask help desperately. If those who love you and support you know that you’re struggling they are far more likely to help. Hire it out if you can afford it. Trade childcare or cleaning if you can’t. Put the kids in childcare a day or two a week if need be. Believe there are solutions and you will think of some.
- Stay at home moms are quite vulnerable. While working moms certainly have their own stressors, often times having a job outside the home provides opportunity for socializing or fulfilling one’s purpose and this can counteract some of the stress. Since stay at home moms are home and can often be lonely, this increases feelings and episodes of depression.
Read: 5 Reasons Moms Are Stressed & Overwhelmed And Their Solutions
You might feel like a depressed mom if… you are exhausted
Sleep is so stinking important.
There will be months during the newborn phase where you are up feeding at night. This is unavoidable.
But as soon as baby is able to sleep through the night, don’t interfere with this. It’s beneficial to baby and to you.
And if someone tries to make you feel guilty for sleep training, tell them they can take your endless night shifts, your chemical imbalance, your cellular death, and the increased risk of disease that comes from sleep deprivation.
That’ll shut them up.
- Put down your device. If you turn off your phone by 7 or 8 pm, you’ll be surprised how quickly your body will begin the wind down process and get tired. Turn off your phone and charge it in another room. Read a book and in 5 pages you may find yourself asleep.
- Stop early waking for a while. We often wake up before the kids to get things done. I have done this during many seasons. But if we’re perpetually exhausted and barely functioning, give it a pass and rest instead.
- Get outside. Sunlight and drakness trigger the release of hormones in the brain, both the feel good hormones (seratonin) and the sleepy hormones (melatonin). By going outside and getting sunlight during the day you’ll actually help increase your production of melatonin at night as well.
- Have a set bedtime. Your circadian rhythm plays a large role in your health. If you go to bed and wake at regular times your body naturally begins to tire and waken at those times. You’ll sleep sounder with a regular sleep schedule. This is hard during the newborn weeks, but after that it’s important to work towards.
You might feel like a depressed mom if… you (or your spouse) have unrealistic standards
This is a huge one.
If you are living in a world in which everything you do is Not Enough and you feel like your value or place in the world is determined by how perfectly you perform… you are in for a world of hurt.
This type of attitude colors your entire life and creates ridiculous amounts of stress and anxiety. Ask me how I know.
By truly acknowledging and realizing that you are living in a paradigm where you are Not Good Enough and can only be Good Enough by constant doing, you can begin to make steps that will dramatically change your life.
Let’s dig further
- Talk to someone older and wiser. Speak to someone wise and loving (and preferably older and in a different life stage) about your feelings. Ask them if they think you are being unrealistic in your expectations of yourself. Receive their wisdom honestly.
- Have a frank talk with your spouse. If you feel your expectations are normal and your spouse’s are unrealistic, don’t beat around the bush. Do not mistake martyring your mental health as an act of Respect towards your spouse. You are not respecting your husband by making yourself nuts. If it’s a big issue between you two, get some marital counseling.
- Decide enough is enough. It seems like it’s not a choice (and up until this point it likely hasn’t been), but it can actually be that simple. You can decide that what you do is enough. That you are enough. That being an imperfect mom in an imperfect home with imperfect children is – in fact – THE ONLY POSSIBLE SCENARIO IN LIFE.
There is hope…
If you are feeling depressed – or worried you might be depressed – I want to give you hope today.
There is so much hope.
While things might be out of whack right now hormonally, mentally, emotionally, or situationally… our bodies were created to be dynamic and they will respond to lifestyle changes we make.
You are not alone.
You are not sentenced to depression forever.
And, you can find help and hope and healing.
If you are stressed, overwhelmed, or drained… you aren’t alone.
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