More people than ever are struggling with their mental health, especially mothers. We spend all of our time dedicated to our little humans, and we let our mental health take a backseat. It’s time for a change this new year – you need to take control of your mental health!
As a mother, I’ve faced my share of mental health issues. I used to be someone who never believed that postpartum depression could be that big of a deal – until it happened to me. It’s real, and mothers all over the world are struggling with a higher rate of depression and anxiety for various reasons than ever before.
The reasons for this vary but the one thing is true – we need to take control of our mental health and 2022 is the time to really get started with this. Whether you work outside of the home or are a stay-at-home-mom, making your mental health a priority is a big deal. Here are some scientifically proven methods that work – try incorporating a few in your life!
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16 Ways to Take Control of Your Mental Health
1. Get Enough Sleep
Research shows us that our mental health and sleep are directly related. Not only do mental health disorders make it harder to sleep, but poor sleep is often a contributing factor that starts and makes mental health problems worse.
You’re probably thinking – lack of sleep and parenthood go hand in hand.
That’s true, especially when you have a newborn baby. The reality is that we cannot change the fact that babies and even toddlers won’t sleep well through the night, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up sleep.
What can you do?
Go to bed earlier.
Mothers often put their babies to bed and head to the living room to soak up a few hours alone, binging on snacks and Netflix. I do it all the time, so I know, and while this is okay sometimes, if you’re struggling with your mental health, getting more sleep should be a goal.
Plan some days when you’ll stay up a bit later maybe by yourself or with your spouse. Other days, head to bed earlier and soak up the goodness that it reaps for your mental health.
2. Create a Morning Routine Including Self-Care
I’ve talked before about how important a morning routine can be as a stay at home mother; it helps you get things done throughout the day. However, you can use your morning routine to take care of your mental health by including self-care in this time.
Let’s be honest; a morning routine for someone who doesn’t have kids looks quite different than ours when we have babies and toddlers hanging off our legs. That doesn’t mean you cannot take care of yourself in the morning.
Here are some suggestions!
- Drink a hot cup of coffee or a homemade latte in the morning while reading or listening to a podcast. You can do this even if your toddler is running around watching Bluey.
- Brush your teeth and hair, and wash your face. It helps you feel refreshed.
- Take a quick shower in the morning – this is a good reason to wake up before your kids!
- Eat a healthy breakfast, even if it means drinking a protein shake and eating some yummy Greek yogurt.
Taking care of yourself in the morning starts your day off on the right foot every time! A healthy routine will start you on the right foot towards better mental health.
3. Exercise Regularly
One of the best ways to boost your mental health and your mood is to exercise regularly. Exercising causes your brain to create endorphins, which promote healing and reduce pain in your body.
Believe it or not, exercising has a lot of benefits, such as:
- Improve the quality of your sleep
- Stress relief
- Improves your mood
- Gives you more energy
- Increases your mental alertness
- Improves cardiovascular health
I know – finding time to exercise as a mom is hard, but it is possible, and remember you don’t have to go to a gym. Exercising can be taking a daily walk with your kids or doing yoga in the living room together.
4. Pay Attention to Your Diet
As a mom, I know how easy it is to shovel chips and unhealthy food into my body because it’s fast and easy. Our diet and our mental health are directly connected, and eating high-quality, nutrient-dense foods helps take control of our mental health.
Junk foods are full of chemicals that affect mind stabilizing neurotransmitters. Some foods are directly linked to anxiety and depression.
So, even though we feel like we need fast, that’s harming our mental health, so what as moms can we do to eat better food without taking more time out of our day?
Here are some tips.
- Keep a stock of healthy fruits available for snacking all the time.
- Stock individual packs of nuts or trail mix for snacking on the go.
- Use Sundays for meal prepping and preparing healthy dinners for your family for the week.
- Remember to meal plan!
- Keep protein bars in your purse for extra boosts of nutrients you need while running errands.
5. Stay Present
It’s important to learn how to stay present in the moment instead of focusing on what could or may come in the future. Reducing social media is one way to do that, but there are other ways to stay present in the moment.
Notice what you hear, see, feel, smell, and taste in that moment. This brings you to the present moment. You need to remember to regularly breathe deeply and focus on the feeling of your breath.
6. Take Time to Journal
Journaling is a fantastic practice that helps people face their stress and the root cause of it. It’s a great practice for helping us identify and discuss our feelings without any feelings of shame.
You might feel like you don’t have time for journaling as a mother; I felt the same way before. It doesn’t have to be a long process; it only takes 5-10 minutes.
7. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature benefits your mental health, and this is easy to do when you have kids. Kids belong outside – it helps their mental health and encourages learning.
There are so many great things you can do outside with or without kids, such as:
- Start a garden
- Take a nap in a hammock
- Read a book
- Go camping
- Ride a bike
- Take a walk
- Do yard work
- Play ball with your kids
- Raise some chickens
- Go fishing
- Play with your dogs
The list really can be endless, so there is no reason not to get outside. Spending time outside gives you more vitamin D in your body from the sun; this is a powerful mood booster!
Not to mention, going outside more not only is a natural stress buster but it helps you sleep better – a win win!
8. Get Out with Friends and Family
Social interaction is crucial if you want to take control of your mental health. No one can do this alone, and moms often face isolation more than others.
Make time to see your friends regularly. Plan play dates, park dates, and time to go out together without kids. Hang out with your parents, go shopping with your sister, and find a supportive church group.
Social interaction should always be important. Staying connected keeps your anxiety and depression at bay!
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Out People
I know how scary it is to cut out people in your life who are toxic and don’t contribute to your life, but it’s necessary. You don’t have to tell them that you’re cutting them off; it’s simply removing contact.
These people in our lives repeat the same negative behaviors and it continues to lead to the same negative results every single time.
Why do we continue it? Just to make them feel okay? What about our feelings?
Walking away from these people will reduce the strain on your emotions and create a more positive atmosphere.
10. Spend Time Reading
Reading is another one of those simple things that science shows decreases depressive symptoms. Diving into a good book regularly will help calm your mind and relaxes your body; it even slows your heart rate and decreases blood pressure!
Reading is a great escape when you feel stressed, and it makes you happier! When you put down your book to work on tasks, you’ll find yourself wondering what is going to happen next and going through previous events in your head.
You look forward to the next time you can read.
As a mom, finding time to read is hard, but I have a few suggestions.
- Read for 15-20 minutes in bed every night. Keep a good book on your nightstand and plan to sit in bed and read with a lamp every evening.
- Bring a book with you in your purse. If you find yourself in a long line at school pick up, crack open the book or read in the waiting room at a doctor’s office.
- Subscribe to Audible or see if your library has a similar yet free program for audiobooks.
- Add reading to your morning routine
11. Refocus Your Attention on Simple Things
Learning how to retrain your brain and focus on your energy elsewhere is a valuable trick to recapturing your mental health.
We worry about a lot of things that aren’t worth worrying about, so working on sending our energy towards appreciating the simple things will do amazing things to our mental health.
This doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. If you’re outside, stop moving and listen to the birds. Take a few moments to observe – truly observe – a beautiful flower. Drink your hot coffee and notice the heat and flavor instead of gulping it down.
You will start to notice things you’ve never seen before, and you start to connect with the simple yet beautiful things in life.
12. Learn Motivational Techniques
Everyone needs motivation, no matter what your goals are, and if your goal is to take control of your mental health, then you need motivation. That might come in the form of reading positive books, listening to podcasts, watching webinars, or going to workshops to learn motivational techniques.
Positivity and negativity is contagious, so when you surround yourself with those who are positive and have great motivational techniques, you’re a step ahead.
13. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing exercises is proven to manage stress in different situations; it even helps with pain. Learning these exercises helps you learn how to release pent up stress and anxiety while improving lung functions.
Make it a priority to use deep breathing exercises whenever you feel mental strain. This sends signals to your brain that you need to relax, and it stabilizes your heart rate and blood pressure.
This is something you can even do in the car while driving your kids around!
14. Work on Finding Productive Hobbies
Hobbies are another way for moms to control their mental health. Some emotions happen because you feel bored and frustrated with your life currently.
Try taking up a new hobby or starting a new project! If you have a collection of unfinished projects, work on finishing them one at a time.
Spending time doing things you find interesting boosts your overall mental wellness.
15. Learn How to Accept and Validate Your Emotions
One of the hardest things to do when you’re taking control of your mental health is learning to accept the emotions you have. That doesn’t mean you want to over-indulge in these emotions, causing a downward spiral. Instead, you’re accepting them and not forcing them into the closet, so to speak.
Suppressed emotions are detrimental to your mental health. We have to learn how to cope with what we are feeling but figuring out what emotion we feel and the root cause of it. It may be deeper than you realize.
16. Seek a Therapist
Lastly, seeking a therapist or a counselor is never a bad thing; people need therapists. Almost 75% of people have trauma in their life in some form whether it’s losing a loved one, suffering from an illness, going through a divorce, assault, or other forms of trauma.
Seeking a therapist helps you learn how to deal with your emotions and trauma constructively.
Therapy is never shameful!
Let’s start 2022 off on the right foot and take back the control of our mental health! These tips really work, and remember, talking to your doctor and using medication is never shameful if it helps you live a healthier and happier life.