Moms and Mental Health

It’s the second Mother’s Day in our new normal and moms, more than anyone else, are facing significant challenges to their mental health.

It’s clear the strain of the pandemic is taking a toll on parent, particularly mothers, mental health.

In addition to worries about helping with schoolwork and their children’s safety, mothers are more likely to feel guilty about not spending time with their children and are more likely to turn down jobs or promotions to spend more time with their family.

A new Canadian study looking at the mental health of mothers before and after the start of the pandemic has found that their levels of depression and anxiety almost doubled in 2020

Living in all this chaos over an extended period is damaging to our mental health, and it’s important to reflect and find healthy ways to cope.

When you start to rely on unhealthy habits to get you through the tough times, it can turn into a problem. We want to encourage moms to take care of their minds and bodies, so we’re sharing six tips with activities for self-care, provided by the Children, Youth, and Families Caregiver Education team.

 

Self-care

Self-care is intentionally looking after yourself in a healthy way. Self-care is more than just taking a bubble bath—it’s a mindset. Effective self-care makes you a better caregiver, helps to manage stress, protects you from burnout, helps you feel calm and balanced, conveys to others that you value yourself, and makes you a good role model.

1. Self-care basics

Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of vegetables, get enough sleep and practice proper sleep hygiene, and spend time in nature. These tips aren’t breaking news, but sometimes, especially if we’re feeling burnt out, we may neglect the basics. Even so, it’s important that we make time for these if we want to start on the path to effective self-care.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, even negative ones, without judging them. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel in a given moment.

3. Set healthy boundaries

Don’t be afraid to say no when you need to; remember that you don’t have to please everyone. Set limits you can enforce, be consistent and assertive. Remember that it takes practice to maintain boundaries. Allow others to experience consequences for their actions; you’re not responsible for everyone’s choices.

4. Practice gratitude  (Find some ways here)

Gratitude can be a powerful tool to increase your own optimism, joy, happiness, and resilience. One gratitude activity you can try is journaling three good things that happen each day for at least a week. 

The good things can be big or small, either way, it’s important to include a detailed explanation.

Watch: An Experiment in Gratitude 

Gratitude Letter: Reflect on someone in your life are you grateful for. Why you are grateful to this person, how has this person’s behavior affected your life, and how often you remember their efforts? Consider writing a gratitude letter. Find detailed instructions on how here.

5. Challenge negative thinking 

Being self-compassionate means interrupting our inner critic and replacing it with a voice of support, understanding, and care. When reflecting on your own self-talk, consider if it is something you would say to a friend who is going through a difficult situation. If not, you’re probably being too hard on yourself.

3-3-3 Writing Activity

Write 3 of your strengths

Write 3 of your achievements

Write 3 things you do to get through difficult times

6. Self-Compassion