There’s no denying it—this time of year can be really overwhelming. Every time I talk to a fellow mom we end up venting about how there’s too little time between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, we have too much to do, and we don’t know how we will ever get everything done.
Just thinking of it now–gifts for teachers, family and friends, hosting/cooking, preparing for travel, work deadlines–makes me breathe a little faster and makes my mood a little more anxious and irritable.This stress is real and there’s no point in pretending it’s not. Managing it will require that we stay organized and efficiently use our time in the next weeks. But it’s not only about time management; it’s just as important for us to think of the ways we can take charge of the hectic worlds inside our minds. Sometimes if we guide our thoughts in more helpful ways it will help us slow things down and not spiral into panic.One of my favorite tools for managing stress is imagery
. I don’t necessarily use a long or elaborate guided imagery exercise; instead, I pick just one image
that I will call into my mind when I feel myself getting anxious or overwhelmed. Along with a mantra
or calming phrase, bringing the image into awareness can help stop my anxiety from going from 0 to 80 when I think about my to-do list. Below are a few of my favorite images that I use in times of stress, as well as the calming phrases I use when I visualize them.
“I am grounded and solid, even if there is a storm around me. I can handle this.”
“Every step I take, even if it’s small, helps me make progress.”
“I’m just riding the waves right now, as best I can.
I may fall off but I can get back up again.”
What images and calming phrases help you during stressful times?
Do you remember getting that wonderful glucose test for gestational diabetes when you were pregnant? Or perhaps you were one of the lucky ones (like me) who even got the follow-up test, where you drank the sugar solution and waited for hours to find out your glucose level?
These are routine tests we do for moms, and they can be beneficial for ensuring that mothers get the medical intervention they need for elevated levels of glucose. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that about 1 in 9 mothers develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, in contrast to the startling statistic for moms related to perinatal depression and other mental health concerns: 1 in 7 mothers. So the chances are higher that a mother will develop perinatal depression than gestational diabetes, yet we have few protocols in place for screening and referrals to treatment for perinatal mental health concerns.
Given the negative effects of perinatal mental health concerns on mothers, their babies and partners, this is clearly a critical public health issue. What do we do in our country to address this serious issue? Unfortunately, not enough.
In the critically-acclaimed documentary Dark Side of the Full Moon, the real face of postpartum depression and the gaping holes in our healthcare system to address mothers’ perinatal mental health are painfully revealed. In this film you will see the experiences of mothers and their families who desperately needed help and didn’t get it. Either their practitioners didn’t ask how they were doing, the mothers didn’t feel comfortable to disclose how they were feeling, or the system was ill-equipped to deal with the mothers’ mental health concerns. In every case, the mothers and their families suffered…unnecessarily.
If you care about supporting moms and families you must see this movie. It will move you by the powerful stories and the filmmakers’ compelling quest to better understand postpartum depression in our country.* It will leave you feeling both angered and motivated, wondering how it’s possible that we don’t better support the future of our country and wondering what you can do. And perhaps this combination of anger and motivation will encourage you to think about how you can do more, on small and large levels. I know I am trying to figure that out myself, and I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie since I watched it.
So, please spread the word. Dark Side of the Full Moon is now available on iTunes.
If you are in the Milwaukee, WI area on Monday, October 10th, 2016, there will be a FREE screening of the film at Marquette University followed by a panel discussion of local professionals.
Click here to get more details and register for this event.
*Trigger warning: Please note that this film could be a trigger for mothers who have experienced perinatal depression and may not be appropriate for women who are pregnant or postpartum.
For more information about mental health during pregnancy and postpartum, check out these useful websites:
Postpartum Support International