Behavioral and Mental Health
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The self-care conversation is all over the internet, and it’s no surprise why: Anxiety and depression are much more common than many people realize. Worldwide, anxiety affects up to 1 in 13 adults, and depression is the leading cause of disability. And moms are no exception, even if they seem to have it all together.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of depression and anxiety can significantly overlap, explains Emily Pyles, a licensed professional clinical counselor with Kettering Health.
“Sleeping too much or too little, irritability, and changes in eating habits can all be manifestations of depression or anxiety,” Pyles says. “The biggest difference between the two is the feeling of negativity—with depression, people tend to feel more sadness and disinterest in the activities they would typically enjoy.”
However, many people experience symptoms of both simultaneously. “Many women get the message that if you can’t hold it all together, there must be something wrong with you.”
Permitting yourself to experience those feelings is a crucial step. “Surround yourself with people you can talk with about how you’re really feeling,” Pyles says. “Find that space where you don’t have to put on a front.”
Self-care for parents
For women juggling the demands of parenting, adding one more thing to the to-do list might feel overwhelming. “Focus on starting small,” Pyles advises. “Use something you are already doing as your self-care time.”
When Pyles became a mother, she used her evening face-washing routine as self-care. “I was going to wash my face anyway, so I got products I really enjoyed and focused on being engaged in giving myself a break.”
Other examples of creative self-care include listening to audiobooks in the car or carving out five minutes to do a breathing exercise when you wake up.
If finding alone time seems impossible, do what you can with what you have. “You can incorporate your kids into your self-care,” Pyles says. “Maybe you garden together or have mommy-and-me workout time at home.”
An essential part of healthcare
Pyles says it’s OK for your children to see your sadness or frustration.
“They don’t have to know all of your running internal dialogue, but it’s OK to take a breath because you’re frustrated,” she says. “You’re modeling to them that emotions are OK. And if you need to seek more help, you’re modeling to them that that’s OK too.”
Pyles emphasized that taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking good care of your family. “Just like we want to see people seek help if they have a stomach bug or a chronic condition like heart disease, the same mentality should also be true for seeking mental-health care.”
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