The holidays are favorite time of the year for many people. There is a sense of joy that fills the air as families seek to spend time together and make special memories. It is meant to be a wonderful time, of good holiday cheer. But for women with Postpartum Depression (PPD), it is not always easy.
For mothers suffering PPD or any other perinatal mood disorder, the holidays and festivities may only serve to intensify the symptoms associated with the condition. Contributing factors vary from one mom to another, but have a significant bearing on a mom’s mental health.
How do the holidays affect moms with PPD?
Add to this the typical stress that comes along with the holidays, and it is easy to see how these factors may increase the symptoms of PPD. Some of the symptoms of PPD include fatigue, loss of appetite, lack of adequate sleep, irritability, guilt feelings and hopelessness. These symptoms tend to intensify over the holidays. Additionally, the feeling that one needs to be cheerful or grateful may exacerbate the symptoms of PPD. It is difficult to smile and be happy when you are not, and everyone else is in a festive mood.
Below are five handy tips to help the mom with PPD get through the holidays:
Engage your supporting system
The festivities come with a long to-do list. It is often overwhelming to think about all that needs to be done. Whether that is visiting relatives upcountry, hosting family and friends or simply spending time with family, these activities can be draining. One of the practical steps that you can take to manage PPD during the holidays is to take only what you can handle. Be careful to set limits – you cannot do it all, and neither should you.
Do not be afraid to ask for help and to lean on your support system, however that looks like for you. If it means reducing the number of guests, traveling a few days before or simply enlisting the help of close relatives if hosting guests – whatever that means, be sure to take measures to manage the load.
Selfcare is important
Selfcare refers to the things or activities that promote your emotional and mental wellbeing. Simply put, it means making yourself a priority because it is only through selfcare that moms are able to better their mental health, and in effect, take care of their families.
Selfcare during the holidays is especially important for moms with Postpartum Depression. It is okay to step away if you feel you need some time for yourself. Instead of sitting and pretending that you do not need some time alone, it is okay to excuse yourself and take a moment’s breather as often as you need to. For some moms, unplugging from the Internet is the way to go. While keeping up with a fitness routine during the holidays is not easy, it is advisable to try and remain active. This may mean taking a walk, spending time in the outdoors, taking a beach run or even doing some yoga.
Allow yourself to indulge in simple holiday pleasures
Be sure to spend some time and indulge in simple holiday pleasures that are most amazing for you. Whether that’s sleeping in, enjoying a holiday movie or allowing someone else to babysit in order to enjoy a cup of coffee at your favorite spot – do whatever feels wondrous for you, and make no excuses for it.
Read More: 9 Myths about Postpartum Depression
Communicate your needs with your loved ones whenever possible. This not only helps prevent disappointments, it helps manage the symptoms of PPD. Settle for one activity that will make the holiday season meaningful to you. It could be a family picnic at a natural space in the town, or perhaps getting a couple of gifts. Spending time with one’s parents can also add meaning to the holidays. Communicating these needs is important, and you should not feel resentful for having had to articulate your needs.
Remember that it is OK not to be OK
This last tip is a reminder for moms with PPD that sometimes, the darkness will creep in during the holidays. The holidays can present emotional upheavals for many moms, for a myriad of reasons. From grieving to loss and loneliness, there are many triggers that can make it extremely hard to enjoy the holidays.
With these realities, it is okay not to be okay during the holidays. It is okay to be sad, to mourn the loss and to feel the loneliness. It is okay to sit with these emotions and to acknowledge them for what they are. Ensure that you practice selfcare during the holidays. This helps make the season a little more manageable.