5 Tips on How to Manage Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
It is absolutely normal to experience a range of mixed emotions after having a baby. Lack of sleep, worry about how the new baby is adjusting, and hormonal changes all naturally lead to heightened states. However, many women’s postpartum experience goes beyond the regular “baby blues.” Postpartum depression is common, but it definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is a serious form of depression, and it’s okay that you need help to get through it.
Although society doesn’t talk about it as much, some women also experience postpartum anxiety. When your heart races, you have trouble breathing, and you worry constantly about the baby, you have trouble feeling like an effective new parent. Again, getting help is critical. You don’t have to go through this alone.
That said, there are things that you can do right now at home to help manage your postpartum depression and anxiety until you’ve received all of the help and support that you need to completely recover.
1. Take Deep Breaths
Steady, deep breathing exercises are among the simplest, yet most effective, things that you can do to relieve the immediate symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety.
It is particularly helpful with anxious thoughts and feelings. After all, deep breathing brings the body itself into a calmer space.
However, it also helps to calm and quiet the mind, which relieves the pressure of all of those negative thoughts that can accumulate in depression. Learn and practice deep breathing exercises all throughout the day.
2. Get Exercise, Especially in Fresh Air
It’s hard to think about taking the time to exercise when you are caring for a newborn. Depression makes it even more challenging to get yourself moving.
Nevertheless, when you can overcome the barriers to it, exercise can significantly improve your symptoms. If you can get out into the sunshine and fresh air for that exercise, then it will help even more.
The trick is to start small. You aren’t going to hit the gym for two hours. Instead, you’re more likely to push a stroller around the block. That’s a good start and it’s enough to make a difference. Mommy and me exercise groups are increasingly more popular and allow you the chance to work out while bonding with your baby and socializing with other moms.
3. Indulge in Simple Pleasures
Make a list of all of the small things that give you joy. Reading a magazine, sipping a favorite flavor of tea, and taking a bath with rose petals are all tiny things that can really relax and inspire us.
Make time for those indulgences as a way of reminding yourself that you are worthy of love, care, and your own attention.
4. Eat Right
When you’re so busy with a new baby and so tired from postpartum depression, it can be tempting to just grab a convenient bite to eat whenever you get the chance.
However, if you’re eating a carb-rich, sugar-high diet (or even if you’re just eating inconsistently), then you’re setting yourself up for more problems.
Focus on eating well-rounded, plant-rich meals. Be sure to add in lots of omega-3 fatty acids, because research indicates that women who don’t are more susceptible to postpartum depression.
5. Ask for Help with the Baby
As a new parent, you might feel as if you need to be there constantly for your baby. Certainly, you want to be hands-on in the care and nurturing of your child. After all, that’s how you bond.
However, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Reach out and ask for support from your partner, family, and friends. Let them know exactly what would help.
For example, they might:
Watch the baby while you take a long, relaxing shower.
Handle some of the feeding times so that you can get sleep.
Do the house chores and meal prep for the home.
Provide extra hands for bath time and play time.
In addition to these tips, make sure that you talk to your doctor and/or a professional therapist to get the support that you need during this challenging time.
If you’re experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety, I would like to help. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
To learn more about how counseling can help treat postpartum depression and anxiety, please click here.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!