During your postpartum journey, there are a number of different changes occurring in your life and body that can be challenging to manage. Stress can show up in many different forms and it is an inevitable part of this life transition, whether you’re having your first or seventh child. Unfortunately, stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and lonely. It is imperative to know how to effectively cope with these stressors because not managing your stress can have significant consequences for your health, relationships, and overall happiness. Not having the necessary coping tools can also cause symptoms of depression and anxiety to appear and increase over time, making them harder to manage.
It can be challenging though to know just how to best cope with something, especially if you have never been through a situation like it before. While there is no “right way” to cope with stressors, there are helpful and unhelpful coping mechanisms that people often use to make themselves feel better and to get through stressful situations.
Helpful Coping Tools
- Talk about how you’re feeling with others
- Journal about your experiences
- Ask for help
- Join a mom support group/social media forum
- Tend to your basic needs every day (eating, bathing, sleeping, socializing, etc.)
- Take a “time out” when you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Validate how well you are doing, even in those tough moments
- Make your sleep a priority
- Provide yourself with words of encouragement and challenge negative thoughts
- Allow others to help with house work, child care, etc.
- Make time to socialize
- Get outside daily
Unhelpful Coping Tools
- Pretend things are fine, if they are not
- Compare yourself as a parent to other parents you know
- Avoid asking for help and/or saying “no” when help is offered
- Put yourself down in any way
- Compare your child(ren) to others you may know
- Blame others for how you’re feeling
- Use alcohol/drugs to feel “better”, more alert, less anxious, etc.
- Isolate yourself from others
- Stay inside and/or at home for days at a time
- Spend time thinking about all “what if” scenarios
- Second guess all your parenting decisions
- Take your feelings and/or stress out on others
Remember, while there is no “right” way to cope with the challenges you may be facing in your postpartum journey, there is a difference in how helpful a coping tool will turn out to be. Focus on integrating more healthy and helpful coping tools into your life to best support yourself during this time. With the use of these helpful coping strategies, and less use of unhelpful coping tools, motherhood can feel less isolating and more enjoyable.