What I want to write about is the many, many ways that we, as busy, multi-tasking types of people can clear our heads, soothe stressed out minds and feel better about ourselves and the relationship we have with our partners and our children. Let’s face it, children are HARD bloody work. They make constant demands on your energy and need more attention that you’d ever imagined when you dreamt about being a Mum. I thought my kids would sit quietly and draw or read for hours on end. What the actual f**k made me think that? They have running races in the dining room and take all the cushions off the sofa at 6am in the morning. That’s the reality. Sometimes it’s awful. (Quick caveat, they are lovely, I love them).
I wrote about letting shit go in my last post. About recognising you can’t solve big world problems (unless you fancy it) and should just focus on being a good, nice person and trying to worry less about stuff you can’t change. If you have lots of problems (everyone does, even probably very rich, successful people, although life has to be better when you can pop off to the Bahamas on a whim) then there are ways of dealing with those. To be honest, when you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t focus, often the biggest blocker is getting off your backside and just doing something. I have felt so crap in the past that I get fused to the sofa. It’s as if just running a bath or going for a walk would sap away that last bit of energy, even though you know it is just what you need to do.
Sometimes it’s too difficult to even do simple things for yourself let alone try and solve problems. So here’s what I think it’s worth doing when you need to sort out your head, so you can work on the bigger stuff, or just so you can feel nice about yourself. I don’t do or haven’t done all of these things (some I have/do). They just seem sensible and if you’re actually a proactive type of person, they might help you.
Medical stuff first.
- Go and see a doctor if you can’t cope. I’m not saying ‘get drugs, get drugs’ (but sometimes as a parent, that seems like an eminently sensible solution!) but for some they are a necessity. Your brain is full of chemicals. Sometimes they get out of whack and medication can help to sort that out.
- If you have low energy or feel a bit meh, you could suggest your doctor runs some blood tests. There are any number of deficiencies you could be experiencing to make you feel bad. Deficiencies in iron, Vitamin D, the B vitamins, magnesium, and others can all make you feel less than spectacular.
- Seek help from a therapist or CBT specialist. Talking is one of the best therapies for stress, depression and anxiety. A problem shared really is a problem halved. It may take time to get to the root of your worries but it will really help to open up to another person.
- Cut back on sugar and refined, processed foods. These foods are toxic and cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation is linked to depression. Treat yourself from time to time but stay out of Greggs (Trans fats, sugar and carbs in one innocent looking sausage roll) and avoid the office cake table (we all have one).
- Drink more water. Nothing new, but if you don’t drink enough water, nothing in your body works as it should. Mild dehydration can make you feel a bit low so it’s worth keeping your glass topped up. I feel like my brain has shrivelled and I get a bit angry if I haven’t had enough. Forget hangry, I get thangry. If I don’t drink water before bed I wake up feeling like I’ve been on the Bloody Mary’s. It sets me up for a bad day.
- Feel cross? Go for a jog. Doesn’t need to be your PB to get the endorphins released, making you a happier and nice person. I find there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after a run. Other forms of exercise help too but running just flicks a happiness switch. They don’t call it the runners high for nothing.
- Get in to a sleep routine. Go to bed at roughly the same time every night and try to get 7-8 hours’ sleep. Make sure your room is dark and quiet. Switch off your devices. You’ve heard it all before, but it is true, dammit. You need sleep to function. I blame my PND on severe sleep deprivation and even today, I get a bit anxious if I’ve had a late night.
- Avoid alcohol most of the time. It’s easy to get in to the habit of pouring a glass of wine when the children are finally asleep. It’s a nice reward. It helps you wind down and it makes you feel like a grown up. But, it is a depressant. Maybe I’m more in tune with my moods these days, I don’t know, but I really notice my mood getting worse if I’ve had a couple of days on the sauce.
- Ferment some cabbage. There is growing evidence that a healthy mind begins with a healthy gut (this is a great article on Prevention, which goes into lots of detail) Our bodies have more bacteria in them than human cells and if the delicate balance is tipped we can experience a wide range of symptoms, not just IBS and skins problems but mental health issues, too. I’ve been sampling kefir, homemade kimchi and sauerkraut over the last couple of months and I have to say there’s something cleansing about them.
- More to come in another blog… Or have you got some mind soothers to share?