May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

by Sabrina Jaspers MSW,RSW

Bringing awareness to maternal mental health could not come at a better time in Ontario as mothers across the province have been digging deep to support the needs of their families during the latest stay-at-home order and it has not been an easy task for anyone. Everything from carrying the mental load of the family, deciding on which family members the children can and cannot see, taking the children for Covid19 tests if they get the sniffles, managing school projects and Google Meets, and deciding on screen time limits – many mothers are feeling overwhelmed right now, and many are feeling lower than they usually do. Maternal stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia is on the rise currently.

I know for myself, as a mother of 3 boys and a therapist in the community it has been interesting to watch my own mental health fluctuate from focused and calm to feeling tired, burnt out, and fairly “crispy” as schools closed and the daily demands of teaching my own children became a reality. This has been something that I have been having to manage and monitor right alongside my clients. If there’s one thing I want you to know – you’re not alone.

Today, get curious about how you’re feeling and ask yourself: What symptoms am I experiencing right now?
Am I experiencing more irritability, difficulty relaxing, agitation, or a “blah” feeling?
What helps me to feel better?
What small self-care activity can I do daily even if only for 20 minutes?
Who makes me feel better?
What calms my body down?
What tasks/chores/expectations do I need to let go of?
Do I need to reach out to a counsellor?

As this spring is not like most springs and as us mothers find ourselves stretched thin, it is important we prioritize our own mental health. This is not selfish or self-centered. This is just good common sense. Think of prioritizing your own mental health as a tune-up. When we start to feel unwell, it’s like the check engine light has come on and is needing some attention. As I said, get curious about your symptoms. Ask yourself “what are my symptoms trying to tell me?” And don’t forget to reach out to someone who cares about you.
Lastly, remember that we can only do so much! We don’ have to be Super Mums! We can just be good enough. We can just be regular. I quote Kenny Rogers’ lyrics to my clients all the time because there’s so much wisdom here:

“You’ve got to know when to hold em
Know when to fold em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”

Today, whether you are at work or at home or doing work from home decide on what you need to get done and what you can let go of. Also, going for a walk or a run can increase happy endorphins and release stress! Thank you Kenny for the reminder. See what I did there?

And as always, be kind to yourself.

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