Motherkind's Zoe Blaksey gives us her advice on how to deal if you're finding things tough...
I’m not a Doctor or therapist, this advice comes from my own experience with mental health as well coaching and supporting many mums who have been struggling. If you’re experiencing a mental health issue then I always advise to see your doctor, who can signpost you to different support options.
When we’re struggling with life, for whatever reason, our first reaction is often to resist it. I know mine is.
We want to fight against it, deny it (saying ‘I’m fine’) or engaging in behaviour to mask or numb it (think wine, chocolate, tv, staying up late, staying really busy or whatever you do to avoid yourself). The problem with this is that what we resist, persists so by not facing our struggle, we’re likely to be perpetuating it and could be making it even worse.
Being in a place where you feel overwhelmed, or like you’re struggling is really tough, especially when our role as mothers can be so intense and always-on. I believe our mental wellbeing is one of the most important things we need to cultivate as mums, so here are 5 things you can do if you’re struggling mentally.
1) Accept it
Be honest with yourself and accept that you’re struggling right now, in this moment. Know that this too shall pass, but that right now you feel overwhelmed. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, so this is the first step to feeling better.
2) Share how you feel
It’s really important to honestly share how you’re feeling, I know how scary that can be sometimes, but opening up is vital - our struggles magnify when they are kept in the dark. Often sharing our challenges can take some of their power away. I wouldn't advise you share with young children at this stage, but with a member of your family or a friend you can trust. It’s a good idea to start the conversation by setting up what you’d like from the other person, I often say ‘I’d like to be able to share with you how I’m feeling, without you feeling like you need to fix me or offer suggestions, if I’d like ideas and help then I’ll specifically ask for it, but right now I’d just like to be heard”. If family / friends aren’t an option then there are great listening resources available through Mind and the Samaritans.
3) Ask for help
Asking for help can often feel really challenging when we’re struggling, but if we’re going to feel better then getting an outside, expert perspective is often what we need. This could he help from a doctor, therapist, coach or even a wise friend. Don’t struggle alone and remember that it’s really hard to work on our mind, with only our mind - meaning we often need another view to change our thinking and perspective. If you’re not sure where to start, then go to your GP who can signpost you to support options.
4) Self care and compassion
As you’re going through struggle, it’s all too easy to beat yourself up with thoughts such as “I should be stronger than this” or “I don’t really have anything to feel bad about”. These shame-based statements will keep you stuck, after all it's hard to climb out of a hole if you keep batting yourself down again. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, that you’re a great mum and treat yourself like you would a best friend going through a hard time - with love, care and affection.
5) Know that you're not alone
If you are struggling, know that you’re not alone, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you and you will feel better - remember, this too shall pass.
Zoe Blaskey is the founder of Motherkind - a platform to support and inspire mums reconnect to themselves. Zoe is the host of the The Motherkind Podcast (currently number 3 in the itunes charts) and offers 121 coaching, runs events, retreats and is a regular contributor to the media on the challenges of modern motherhood.