It might not be New Year’s Eve, but I have the time and inclination to do a little precis of what I have found worked for me this year, in terms of improving my mood and general happiness levels, and what has not. My son will be one in a week, and it’s been an incredibly full-on year, spending a lot of his early weeks in hospital due to his severe reflux (and time at home managing it), but also the more prosaic aspects of juggling life with a toddler and a newborn.
Fortunately, I was able to identify my PND in the first half of the year, (thanks, in part, to having experienced it exactly two years before) and seek medical help straightaway. The rest, however, has been an effort on my part to seek out practical and enjoyable ways to help myself. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
- Anti depressant medication. Sertraline is my particular poison, and it’s been invaluable in giving me the energy and resilience to connect with my children and get through the days intact.
- Short, relaxing exercise breaks. I realised I needed to find something quick and effective to slot into my day. A lot of people swear by the 30 Day Shred, and I gave it a whirl, but I only had the energy to do it on holiday. It definitely worked from a purely physical point of view, but was too hard work to be enjoyable, so got sent back to Love Film pdq. I found Erin O’Brien’s 15 min Postnatal Rescue suited me much better, and I was still able to do it after an exhausting day and see the effects.
- Short breaks in the day – I downloaded the 20 and 40 min “energiser” tracks from Pzizz. The voice is a little irritating, but it’s been useful when I’ve been too wired to sleep, but have the odd half hour to switch off.
- Having a project – i.e this blog. While I’ve not been working, it’s been great to have something that has a sense of purpose, that I get a sense of achievement from (and connection with those who read it). I’m not currently keeping a journal and it’s very helpful both in terms of having a “brain dump” but also clarifying my own thoughts and feelings.
- Staying in the present. I got halfway through The Power of Now before giving up, but want to look more into mindfulness. Would welcome suggestions of good books on the subject.
- Connecting with old friends and not talking about children.
- Various exercises from specific self-help books (see previous posts).There are loads more I’m sure, but these are the main ones that spring to mind.
What hasn’t worked for me
- Attending to my personal appearance. Of course, I follow basic hygiene rules, I mean more wearing make up or getting my hair done, or buying new clothes. I know this works for many people, but I’d rather spend the precious minutes in other ways.
- Denying myself particular indulgences, such as coffee, Diet Coke, sweets, choc, wine etc. I realise that all the research points to Diet Coke and booze being depressants in themselves, but I find depriving myself when my world is so small even more depressing.
- Sleep! Or rather, I had hoped the kids would be sleeping better by now, so I’m not feeling any benefits yet. But on my list for the New Year is sleep training for the baby now he’s 1, so I hope this can move up into the first list soon.
Looking forward to trying out some new stuff in the New Year, thanks for reading this year, Happy Christmas!