I was 2 months postpartum as of February 27, 2020. Just when I started to feel a little bit like myself again. Just when I settled into my routine of taking care of my toddler while also taking care of my newborn. Just when I started to feel comfortable getting out of the house more with my kids. Just when I had my postpartum anxiety under control. Then life happened and the world turned upside down with the outbreak of COVID-19.
The disruptions and disorder in our world currently have caused my anxious feelings and fears to resurface all over again. When my son was born in December my heart was filled with so much joy and I felt happier than ever. I also experienced an overwhelming amount of fear. I felt so happy but so anxious all the time. My fears were often irrational and simple tasks like dropping my son off at preschool or taking my baby to the doctor weighed heavily on me. Eventually, I found ways to cope and thought I was out of the woods. But during this time of crisis where there is disorder, disruption, and fear across the world, I find myself feeling anxious all over again.
I know during this difficult time I have to somehow make taking care of myself and managing these anxious feelings a priority. However, when our main focus is on our children and family, it is easy to forget taking care of our own physical and mental health should also be a priority. If you’re like me and feeling very anxious just know you are not alone. Here are some small things I am doing to help manage my anxiety:
- Exercise – At a time like this it is very easy to sit on your couch or lay in bed and binge-watch Netflix. While I will certainly be doing that I will also be exercising for at least twenty minutes a day. I am always feeling more anxious when I do not get a workout in. Although going to the gym is not an option right now many apps are offering free workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home. I am a personal fan of the Peloton app which includes a variety of workouts to choose from. I also love running outside. Exercise is as simple as chasing your kids around in the backyard or taking a long walk with your family. If you ever pushed a stroller uphill then you know that is one intense workout.
- Meditate – This is something that is new to me. I have been told by many that practicing meditation is very effective. I am incorporating this into my day and starting out with just five minutes a day. Those five minutes a day have helped tremendously.
- Limit social media and the news- This is a hard one for me. With all the news outbreaks I find myself scrolling through my phone constantly especially before bedtime which triggers my anxiety. I made a rule for myself going forward that after a certain time in the evening I will put my phone away for the night.
- Read – It’s nice to take a little break from reality and read something that has nothing to do with what is going on in the world today! My books of choice will definitely be something fiction. Reading a book is a nice escape from reality.
- Fresh air – I am planning to be outside as much as possible. It’s been really nice seeing everyone in our neighborhood playing outside, walking, running, riding bikes and scooters with their families. You can do this while keeping an appropriate distance from others.
- Gratitude – Every day I am writing down one thing I am grateful for. It has helped me keep a positive mindset and to remember not to take anything for granted. I am grateful that I got extra baby cuddles from my little one today. Today I am grateful that I have technology so I can facetime with my family who lives out of state. Today I am grateful that the sun finally came out here in Atlanta. I am grateful that my toddler made me laugh hysterically today.
- Talk it out – At times when I am feeling very anxious instead of keeping it all bottled up inside I have made it a point to confide in my spouse and tell him how I am feeling. I find it helps to talk to someone or even write down your feelings in a journal.
Although these are small things they are making a huge difference in my mental health. I’m hoping some of my tips help you as much as they are helping me right now. We will get through this and we are all in this together!