Today I welcome to the blog Natalie from Clarity Hypnotherapy. She is a hypnotherapist who runs her own clinic in Crawley. As a Mum of 3, Natalie knows all about the challenges that face modern parents and today shares a post with her advice on dealing with Post Natal Anxiety.
Post Natal Anxiety
Mums nowadays are bombarded with images of celebrities who pop out a baby and slip back in to their skinny jeans. We are expected to be coping, looking fab, running a home, cooking a healthy organic dinner and often for some juggling jobs. Expectations have never been so high…..
There are certain cultures throughout the world where new mums are expected to rest and recuperate whilst family members help around the home, enabling mum to adjust to having this new little person. Obviously it’s a personal preference there maybe mums out there who don’t want the help or some may have supportive families; however that isn’t the case for everyone….
After the birth of my children and experiencing anxiety myself, I decided to retrain as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. The most common reason people come to see me is to seek support with anxiety and nearly all are mums…. Is it any surprise to be honest?
What causes anxiety? Anxiety is caused by negative thinking, it could be big things, it could be small things. We can negatively forecast the future, “what if this…?.” “What if that?” Or negatively introspecting the past, I should have done this/that…. All these negative thoughts are accumulated and stored in our minds. Now we do have a process for clearing our negative thoughts each night while we sleep, it’s known as REM, Rapid Eye Movement. During our REM sleep we rerun the events of the day. This happens either in a clear dream, exactly as it happened or metaphorically. One of those wacky dreams that make no sense, the one where someone from school pops up that you’ve not seen since 1999! What we are doing here is moving those memories / anxieties of the day from either being an emotional memory to a narrative one, one that we have control over. Now as long as we are not over loading our minds this processing system works. Here’s an example; How many of us have been annoyed by someone at work, we go home, tell our partner or friend and they say “oh forget about it” but we can’t. When you go to sleep that night, it’s still very much on our minds. During our REM sleep we follow the process above. Moving it from an emotional memory to a narrative one. When we wake up in the morning, we may well have forgotten about the incident or if not we would more than likely being saying “why did I let that bother me” This is all well and good as long as we are not over loading our minds with negative thoughts. So what happens if we do? We can only go through REM a maximum of 5 times a night, if we overload our minds with more than we can process, then our minds will wake us up! You’ll know it your mind waking you as you wake with that churning feeling in your stomach, struggle to drop back off and then struggle to get out of bed when it’s time to rise. With new mums there is the added pressure of waking during the night for feeds too in addition to processing the day’s trials and tribulations.
So how can we get back on track? Well we need to reduce the amount we’re filling our minds with and insure we are creating a constant flow of serotonin and other feel good hormones, doing this will give us that fighting feeling and ability to tackle the day ahead. So how can we produce that constant flow of serotonin… below are my top tips.
- Think positively. Our minds can not tell the difference between imagination and reality. So how we think really can affect how we feel. Focus on what you want to happen, how you want to feel rather than thinking about what you don’t want. Speak kindly to yourself and use positive language.
- Focus on the things you have accomplished and are grateful for. This will help you to see the positives in situations and help you to acknowledge all the things you are achieving.
- Surround yourself with positive like-minded people. Negativity is contagious! We’ve all spent an afternoon with someone who has not stopped moaning… when we’ve left, how do we feel? Totally down too. Similarly if you spend that time with someone upbeat then those feelings will stay with you. Take a massive pinch of salt when it comes to social media, it can be so easy to compare ourselves with others! Focus on the positives in your life.
- Accept help…. If someone offers to help, then say YES PLEASE. Likewise don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are not Miss Rabbit (a la Peppa Pig) we can not do every single job!
- Embrace imperfections… yes it would be lovely to have a Laura Ashley Show room for a home but it’s not realistic when you’re a busy mum with young children. Break household chores down and have a certain day for certain tasks. If it doesn’t get done then that’s ok, as long as you and baby are happy then really that’s all that matters.
- Take time for you…. Cue *eye roll* yes life is manic with babies and young children BUT taking time for you is so important. It doesn’t have to be an indulgent day at a spa but set aside time each day for you. Perhaps while baby naps sit down with a cup of tea and watch something totally rubbish on TV for 30mins even just sit and be in the moment, the dishes or other chores can wait. If you are looking after yourself then ultimately you will have more resources to care for everyone else. Self-care is not selfish!
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Thanks so much for your post Natalie. All these tips are ones I need to remember when my new baby arrives. I agree there is so much pressure on new Mums at the moment to get back to normal, to be good at doing everything when you really just need to give yourself a break.