Today is World Mental Health Day and it got me thinking about a fridge magnet.
My friend’s fridge is littered with the usual family paraphernalia. Amidst the kids’ schedules, the artwork, the wedding ‘save the dates’ and the birthday invitations, there is this:
It’s funny because there is truth at its centre. Motherhood can affect our mental health. There is the stress, worry and anxiety that comes with the territory. There is the lack of sleep. There are pressures, real and imagined, to be a “perfect” mother. There can be tedium and boredom. There is pressure to be continually grateful for the immense blessing of children. There is a loss of self and the creation of a new self. There is a lack of time and space to regroup and catch a breath.
And as much as they challenge our sanity, sometimes our children can save it. When I lost my precious middle son as a newborn, it was Master I that pulled me through some pretty dark times. I know brave women who credit their children with bringing them back from the brink of suicide. Knowing that there are those completely dependant on us forces us to turn our inward attention, outward. And sometimes that is a very healthy thing. That, and children have such a funny and unique way of looking at things that they can often save us from ourselves.
Mental health is important. It’s important that we talk about it. It’s important that it is viewed as real. It’s important that we place a priority on our mental health, just as we spend time on our fitness and diet.
As a mother, these are my sanity savers:
>> Find your Tribe <<
I have a wonderful tribe of friends. I can share what I am going through, warts and all, without fear of judgement. And I can’t tell you the relief that comes with a knowing nod, a squeeze of a hand and a “me too.”
>> Get Outside <<
As soon as I get outside, my troubles seem to get smaller. The wide outdoors gives me perspective. Inside, the walls close in but outside the soaring sky gives me space to breathe. I know that when you have a very new little baby getting outside can seem as unlikely as going to the moon. But try, please try.
>> Be Gentle <<
I know I am a million times harder on myself than anyone else is going to be. What does listening to the inner critic achieve? Precisely nothing. I need to offer myself the same kindness I offer those around me.
This year’s mental health day is focused on people committing positively to their mental well-being. One of the ways is to be part of a promise wall. My promise is to live in the present and truly appreciate the beautiful moments with my loved ones. You can be part of the wall here.
What do you do for your mental health? Have you made a mental health promise?