Practical Tips for Mum’s Trying to Look After Their Mental Health

Mental Health

Make sure you get 8 hours sleep. Exercise for an hour each day. Limit caffeine. Reduce stress. This is the classic recipe we are told when it comes to supporting good mental health.  

But chances are, if you’re a new, or even a seasoned mum, most of that sounds like the stuff of fairytales. The reality is you can’t get enough sleep when you have a child that wakes every 3 hours. And you’re often lucky to find time to shower and brush your teeth, let alone have an hour to exercise. So, how can you look after yourself when you have little humans that depend on you every minute of every day? 

Well, as a doctor and a mum of 2 toddlers, here are my tips when it comes to managing your mental health within the limits of your reality. 

  1. Incorporate exercise into play time 

Remember you don’t have to go to a gym to exercise. Small bursts of movement scattered throughout the day can actually have huge physical and mental health benefits. Think about ways you can fit movement into play time with kids – walk to the park instead of driving, do some core work while you sit on the floor playing games. There are even great online exercise channels with exercises for children and parents to do together.  

  1. Take the pressure off sleep 

You get woken up, it takes an hour to get your child back to sleep then you lay in bed awake for another hour worrying about when you’re going to be woken up next. Relate? I’m sure we all can. My go to mantra: “The sleep will come. It might not be now, but it will come. And yes, I am tired, but I will get through it”. I said it over, and over, and over again. Taking the pressure off how much sleep you’re getting (or not getting) can be really freeing. The consequence? People often find it easier to relax and get back to sleep and worry of sleep deprivation becomes less consuming.  

  1. Make the most of “me” time 

You know the 2 minutes brushing your teeth or the 10-minute drive to the supermarket – it can all be treasured “me” time. Make the most of it. Think about doing some mindfulness while brushing your teeth, or use your commute to listen to your favourite podcast. These little moments all add up and can really refill your cup. 

  1. Set aside your pride 

Don’t be afraid to ask your help. Despite what social media leads us to believe, motherhood isn’t all glorious sunshine, rainbows and smiles. It’s hard. And you don’t have to love every moment of it. If you’re struggling, please take the pressure off yourself don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Your GP is a great place to start. They can link you in with a variety of services and supports.  

Remember, this is real life, not a fairytale (or social media grid). It’s tough. Be real with what you can’t and can’t achieve and, above all, be kind to yourself.  

Dr Michela Sorensen

Please note: Dr Michela's blogaura's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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