It’s not breaking news to anyone that 2020 was a challenging year. Remember just a year ago, when we thought our lives were busy and overwhelming? I don’t think anyone could have imagined what we were about to experience.
The responsibilities of being a mom are already intense, without the added pressures of a global pandemic. Suddenly, schools were closed and many of us were put in a position we’d never imagined; working, helping kids with school, and keeping everyone in the household safe.
How were we supposed to cope with this?
After the pandemic hit, many of our usual activities or “outlets” were not accessible to us. Exercise is a wonderful coping option; but with gyms closed many found this outlet no longer an option. We couldn’t go on date nights out of the house, get a sitter for an afternoon break, or do mom’s night out with our friends.
In addition, we weren’t able to see the people we relied on to help get through challenging times. As humans, we need connection with other humans, but even this became difficult, if not impossible, as we tried to protect our loved ones and ourselves. New parents, welcoming their baby to the world, were isolated.
It felt like in the blink of an eye, life was completely changed.
If you are anything like me, you spent much of 2020 in “survival mode,” just trying to get through each day and each week. Sometimes focusing on just getting through an hour at a time, doing the best you could.
Once I was able to reflect, I realized I had spent a good portion of the last year just trying to keep it all together.
Between my work and my family, how was I supposed to find time to do anything to be sure I was okay? Sure, I would take a nap occasionally or go for a drive alone, but I couldn’t do the things that involved my regular activities to “fill my own cup.” I began to recognize this is not a healthy long-term coping mechanism, nor is it sustainable.
Making Your Mental Health Priority
Typically, when the new year rolls around, it is a time to look forward to all the great things the upcoming year will bring. This year seems different. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic. There seems to be more hope with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the question remains, what will “normal life” be like, and when will we get here? And in the meantime, how do we take of ourselves and look after our mental health?
According to the CDC, one in five Americans struggled with depression, anxiety or trauma before the pandemic. That number is now over two in five. This is not surprising, considering the magnitude of events of the past year. As moms, we tend to put other’s needs before our own, sometimes to the detriment of our own mental health. The longer these needs go unnoticed and unaddressed, the higher the likelihood of mental health symptoms appearing or worsening.
So, how do we make our own mental health a priority?
How to Stay Balanced
- Check in with yourself daily or a few times a day. This can be as informal as just taking a short pause and asking yourself how you are doing/feeling, or as formal as tracking your moods along with your triggers and circumstances. You can simply use paper and a pen or there are many smart phone apps available for this (I like the Sanvello app.)
- Stick to a consistent routine as much as possible, particularly your wake up time and bedtime. In a chaotic world, this is one thing that can offer some predictability. Plus, sleep is an important part of overall health.
- Drink enough water and make good food choices. There is a correlation between our mood and what we put into our bodies.
- Move your body!
- Connect with others, whether this be in person, over the phone, or virtually. We need human connection!
- Be aware of your expectations of yourself and adjust as needed. Be gentle with yourself, particularly during difficult times.
- Consider seeking professional help if you are having a difficult time managing your stress, experiencing depression or anxiety, or any other concerns. There are many wonderful therapists in Fargo and telehealth may also be an option.
For Immediate Help:
If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/.
Trishia Powell, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is the co-founder of Becoming Balanced and has over 15 years of working in the mental health field in the FM area. Trishia is a certified provider in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders through Postpartum Support International and primarily focuses on Women’s Health, perinatal and postpartum mental health, infertility, and pregnancy/infant loss. Her approach is primarily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with a lot of focus on self-care and mindfulness.
Trishia is also a wife and mom to 3 amazing children. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, attending her children’s numerous activities and sporting events, cooking, golfing, binging Netflix and Prime shows, napping, and exercising. Like every mother, she is constantly working to find balance in her life while caring for herself and others.
Read more about Trishia here!