As a mom, I know how easy it is to get so wrapped up in tending to the needs of your family that you put taking care of yourself last. As we celebrate May as Mental Health Month and Mother’s Day on May 11, I encourage mothers and caregivers to make taking care of you a top priority. It is the best gift you can give to yourself and your family. A mother’s health significantly impacts the development of your child. When you are healthy, the better care you can provide to your children so they can thrive.
Here are some tips for taking care of your physical and mental health:
- Eat well – Make sure that you eat the right foods at regular intervals throughout the day. Healthy food will fuel your body and help you maintain energy.
- Exercise – Exercise helps relieve stress and reduces anxiety. Whether it is to walk, run, do yoga, or play outdoor games with your kids, try to get one hour of exercise each day.
- Get sleep – Many mothers think that naptimes and bedtimes are the best times to complete household chores. But the next time you’re tempted to do the dishes or a load of laundry, get some sleep instead to allow yourself to fully recharge.
- Schedule some “me” time each day – Every morning, try to wake up at least a half an hour before the kids wake up. Take the time to meditate, read a book, or plan out your day. Doing so will help you get mentally prepared for anything coming your way.
- Have a support network – Stay connected to friends and family or join a support group of mothers. It helps to have people you can turn to for reassurance and support.
- Be thankful – Create a mental list of the things that you are grateful for each day. By exercising gratitude, you are cultivating positive thoughts to help you parent effectively.
When you are not taking care of yourself—eating well, exercising, getting sleep, or in tune with who you are—the more vulnerable you are to depression. More than one-third of women of childbearing and childrearing years have depressive symptoms. However, many women are unaware that they have depression, or fear being discriminated against, isolated, or blamed. As a result, mothers with depression end up suffering in silence rather than get the help they need for a highly treatable illness. To address this public health issue, First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services (HDS) is implementing the Maternal Depression Pilot Project to help identify and treat mothers of young children with depression. Our goal is to strengthen the health and resilience of mothers during a time they are needed most and help them lead fulfilling lives. To get connected, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 or visit www.first5sandiego.org.
First 5 San Diego