While taking care of your new baby is your absolute priority as a new mum, if your cup is empty, there won’t be anything left to give. This is why it’s important to fill up your own cup with rest, compassion, health and kindness, so you can support and care for your new baby as best you can.
Below, I’ve shared five key ways you can nourish and support your mental health as a new mum.
Rest with this body scan exercise
Sleep and rest is likely to be in short supply right now but you can maximise your rest time with this body scan exercise which is deeply restorative. Doing this for just a couple of minutes can help you to either switch off and sleep or relax your body more fully so that you can make the most of the rest time you do get. While sitting or laying down, imagine each part of your body relaxing in turn. Start by putting your attention on your toes and mentally say to yourself ‘toes relax’, or just imagine the toes relaxing. Then move up the body to your feet, ankles, calves, knees and so on, mentally relaxing each part.
Lower your expectations
This is probably the most important on the list, because the moment you start putting pressure on yourself and berating yourself, is the moment when you lose compassion for yourself. Even if 'all' you achieve in a day is keeping your baby alive and yourself fed and watered, that's still an amazing achievement and you're doing incredibly well. Your whole life has just turned upside down and inside out, so give yourself a break and just let go of all expectations on your shoulders and follow the flow. Being a new mum isn’t easy, but you’re doing just fine, I promise.
Have a morning routine
Morning routines have been shown to have long-lasting benefits throughout the day. Whether it’s making your bed in the morning, creating a gratitude practice or taking 10 minutes to do some deep stretches, morning routines are powerful. Some of my favourite things I like to do in the morning include 5 minutes of mindfulness, remembering what I’m grateful for and saying loving affirmations, but yours can look like anything you choose that brings focus and joy to the start of your day. If 10 minutes seems like too much of a stretch, aim for 2 minutes and build from there.
Get better at saying no
As women, we often struggle to say no, yet we forget that no in itself is often a complete answer. When you have a new baby there will be lots of people who will want your time and energy, whether it’s to visit you and your newborn, or catch up with you outside of the house. If you don’t feel up to it or if it all feels too overwhelm-ing, you can say no. You need to put your wellbeing first and know that there will be plenty of time for doing things with others when you feel ready. Get yourself back on your feet first, feel comfortable and secure and then off you go, as and when you feel good to get back out there. There’s never any rush so don’t let anyone pressure you.
Be kind to yourself
I say this one all the time, whether it’s to new mums or not, because it’s so important that we show ourselves compassion when we’re anxious, upset or stressed. If you’re having a tough time, ask yourself “how would I speak to a friend in this position”? Showing yourself gentle love and care during difficult times, rather than being harsh and judgmental, is a radical act of self-love. It’s too easy to berate ourselves when things go wrong so avoid the temptation, and instead give yourself a hug, some words of comfort, and move on.
Being a new mum is hard, but there are simple things you can do to take care of yourself and feel better. However you’re feeling right now, remember it’s all temporary and things will get better, probably sooner than you think.
If you think you may be depressed or anxious, speak to your GP, midwife, or health visitor who may have techniques to help or be able to signpost you to further support. Help is available and you don’t need to suffer alone.
Chloe Brotheridge is a hypnotherapist, coach, mentor at www.calmer-you.com, and host of The Calmer You Podcast. She specialises in helping people calm stress and anxiety and feel more confident. She's the author of two books published by Penguin, the best-selling The Anxiety Solution and ‘The Confidence Solution. Find her on Instagram @ChloeBrotheridge.