The Depressed Mom’s Guide to Disappointment

Disappointments happen. How you handle them can make or break your day, even your week. Learn how to work through feelings of frustration, sadness, and fear in the midst of motherly depression, exhaustion, and loneliness so that you can weather life's inevitable storms with strength and courage. Click the photo to learn more.


Disappointment happens. Sometimes it's a small thing, like forgetting about and missing a coffee date with a friend. Other times, it's much bigger, like unexpectedly finding out you're pregnant again. Big or small, those disappointments can feel all the worse, even overwhelming, when you're already in an emotionally depleted state. Exhausted, lonely, depressed Mamas have the hardest time with disappointment because we're already functioning on less emotional energy. It doesn't take nearly as much to drain us completely.
Emotional Energy: How Disappointment Affects It
Imagine that you wake up each morning with one glass full of emotional energy. As the day goes by, you pour some out for your kids, some for your husband, some on work or other commitments; neighbors, friends, housework, bills, meal planning, etc. And some of that energy is poured into hopes, plans, or goals for future things, like those coffee dates or the things you might do once your youngest is in school full time. Fear, frustration, and sadness from a disappointing event can rob the remainder of your day's energy. But it can also rob you of the energy you've poured out and stored in those future plans and expectations.

Take that same glass of emotional energy, but now it's only half-full. That's what your emotional 'tank' often looks like when you're wiped out, dealing with depression, trudging through the loneliness of motherhood, or battling anxiety. That half-full glass is much closer to running dry, so when disappointments happen, one big slosh drains everything you've got. In my experience, that's been the hardest part about my depression. One little thing can steal the rest of my carefully budgeted energy and leave me wanting nothing more than to go to bed and start the day over... by 9 am! But fear not, Mama! There is a solution!!
How To Retain Your Energy After A Disappointment
Step 1: Give Yourself Five Minutes To Feel It
It's okay to need to vent some frustration or cry a few tears. Don't try to bottle up those emotions! Let 'em out! I give myself five minutes if I really can't hold it together. Alone in my room or the car, I'll let everything bubble up and over and cry as hard as I need to for five minutes. Then I can dry my face and move forward rationally. Sometimes you just have to let yourself really feel it. By acknowledging your feelings, you're allowing yourself to move on. (Makes me think of Sadness in Inside Out... Anyone else?)
Step 2: Salvage Your Energy By Channeling It Into Something Else
The energy you've stored in future plans and dreams is like a storehouse for your lowest days, the silver lining or the bright spot to look forward to when you're really in the trenches. When those plans change or get messed up by something outside of your control, your 'rainy day' fund of emotional energy can slip away and be gone forever. We can't have that! Being able to channel all that stored energy into something else you can honestly get excited about will salvage some, if not most, of your energy.

This is something my therapist pointed out to me and it has really, really improved my ability to cope with disappointments. I have a page in my bullet journal where I record things I would like to do or get done. These are things that make me happy and fulfilled and which give me purpose. I'm a doer, so my list is 90% projects. Your list might include crafts with your kids or manicures or cleaning tasks or reading or vacation planning or... Fill in the blank for you. When a disappointment occurs, say you miss a date with a friend, you can look at your list and pick something else to channel your expectant energy into.
Step 3: Recognize The Root of Your Disappointment
Later, after you've had time to cope and reflect on the thing that caused your disappointment, take some time to dig into why. Why did missing that appointment affect you the way it did? What is it that scares or worries you about being pregnant again? I'm not great at recognizing my own triggers, which is why I love my therapist. She has a way of asking questions that lead me right to the answer. A good friend or family member who knows you really well can accomplish the same thing sometimes. Once you know what triggered your disappointment, you can work through those emotions and prepare for the next time something might hit you similarly.


Prepare For the Future
Mom life never really goes the way you plan it to go. It might be a spilled cup or a lost shoe right before you walk out the door, or issues in your marriage or with your job. But we're Moms. No one is as good as we are at anticipating worst case scenarios. It's time we start anticipating the worst case self-care scenarios. Little annoyances can quickly become major day changers when you're running on empty. Big things, like relationships and careers, can suffer a ton if you've got nothing left to invest in them after all your other mom duties. Self-care isn't just a bubble bath here and a manicure there. Self-care is a lifestyle that enables you to be the best mom you can be because your emotional tank is full and ready for anything. By taking care of your needs before they become NEEDS, you allow room for life to happen and for you to keep your stuff together on the rough patches.

Blessings,
Jessi

 
For more self-care ideas, click here.
For ideas on resetting with a weekend away, click here.
To find a therapist in your area, click here.
If you think life is just too much and you're considering suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255
 

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How I Use a Bullet Journal to Track My Mental Health and Self-Care

How I Use My Bullet Journal to Track My Mental Health and Self-Care | A Bullet Journal can be an efficient method for keeping track of every aspect of your life, but did you know you can track your mental health also? Using my BuJo for mental health and self-care helps me recognize when I'm healthy and when I need to ask for help. Learn how to set up your own spreads here.

Using a Bullet Journal to Track My Mental Health
I have always been prone to bouts of anxiety and depression so, after a difficult pregnancy, I knew I was going to be a prime target for those pesky postpartum blues that could potentially turn into something more serious. Knowing this about myself ahead of time, however, gave me time to figure out exactly how I was going to keep track of my moods so that I would recognize when it was time to seek help.

My bullet journal has been my go-to for pretty much everything: grocery lists, daily/monthly/yearly calendars, reading lists, and meal and weight tracking. So, of course, my journal would be the perfect place to start tracking my mental health as well. I always have it with me so I can easily make note of my mood anytime.


What Is Bullet Journaling?
If you have never heard of Bullet Journaling before, I encourage you to look into the original system and to browse Pinterest for inspiration. It's a wonderful way to keep different parts of your life organized, especially if you are a fan of pen and paper lists and calendars but haven't found that one date book that really works for you.
Creating a System That Works For Me
The most important thing for me to start tracking was my mood, but I was also interested in how it was being affected by my workouts and sleep, or lack thereof. I liked the 'year in pixels' idea so I adapted it for my needs by adding a few extra grids to help track exercise and sleep. Having everything on one spread makes it much easier to look for patterns and correlations between the emotional and the physical aspects of my health.


Adapting As I Learn
After getting started with the sleep tracking, I realized that I needed one more metric. I had all these pretty high numbers, sometimes 8 or more hours, but I was still feeling so sleep deprived. I couldn't figure it out. After taking a closer look at my sleep tracker (which is actually my baby's sleep tracker), I realized that I felt a thousand times better on the days when I got a continuous block of sleep that lasted for 4-5 hours rather than 2 or fewer hour chunks. As you can tell from my tracker, and the lack of green spaces in my sleep chart, I don't get as many of those as I would like.


Don't Make It Too Complicated
Originally with my mood tracker, I would use two colors if I felt multiple moods during the day, but I found that this wasn't that helpful and only made it harder to read. Now, I simply choose one emotion that made the most impact to my day and stick with my gut. I also found it incredibly useful to see, after the month is over, how many days were 'good' and how many were 'bad'. I can make sure that my orange, green, and pink days outnumber all the red, yellow, and blue days. If the bad ever outnumber the good, I know that it is definitely time to ask for help.


Using a Bullet Journal to Track My Self-Care
As a breastfeeding mama, it is very important for me to track things like water intake, vitamins, and medications, as well as make sure I'm eating enough to support not only my own body but my daughters as well. I track my self-care in the form of taking a shower and brushing my teeth which, as a busy first-time mom, I find myself forgetting constantly. With the amount of sleep that I get in solid blocks, caffeine is crucial for my early morning functioning, so I also make sure I drink one cup of coffee (or sometimes sub out for a coke). If I have a headache one day I can usually look back and realize I didn't have coffee the day before. I used to track what I was eating for my meals, but these days that takes too much time so, instead, I just check off which meals I've eaten to make sure I don't miss any.


Preparing For The Blue Days I Know Will Come
Whenever I'm feeling particularly stressed or depressed, I have trouble picking something to do that will calm me down. So I drew up some quick sketches of things I can use to re-center myself, like meditation or taking a bath. Now, if I'm feeling burnt out, I can just flip to this spread in my journal and pick something. I've also left space to add more as I discover new things that help me relax.


Can A Bullet Journal Improve Your Mental Health?
A bullet journal can be used in so many ways, and I've found it to be an amazing tool for tracking mental health and self-care. Busy moms often neglect themselves until it becomes a bigger problem then it could have been. It's far too easy to neglect your own mental health and self-care, but with a system like this, you too can make sure you're taking the best care of yourself.

 



About The Author
Kalen is a new mom and work-from-home artist and blogger at Nerdy Wife, Nerdy Life.  Her blog has a variety of subjects ranging from motherhood and bullet journaling to board games and art.  Kalen loves the freedom of working from home while still being able to take care of her daughter. Follow her adventures on Instagram @nerdywifenerdylife.


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Weekend Getaway: Why You Need One ASAP and How to Make It Happen


A weekend getaway can be a great way to reset
I've been in a pretty good mental space over the last couple of months but when the opportunity to go on a weekend getaway with my mom came up, I jumped at it.

We flew to Arizona to help my grandma celebrate her 75th birthday. It was really great to spend the weekend with them, but I had to leave my kids and husband behind. Three days without my kids. Three days of contact only through a pixelated screen. Seriously, thank goodness for technology! I was delightfully surprised to find that I didn't miss my kids nearly as much as I expected to.


The mom life is hard work
Taking care of your children, while fulfilling and important, is really hard work! You're on call around the clock and your needs usually fall somewhere behind everyone else's. Self-doubt, mom guilt, loneliness, and depression are just a few of the things you may begin to feel when you aren't making time for you.
Taking time off can sometimes be harder than not
I often take time away from the house for writing or meeting up with a friend, but when I first started doing that, it wasn't easy. I would spend hours debating whether I should call a friend or spend the time alone, whether I should go sit at a coffee shop or go for a walk or try to get a pedicure. I'd build up so many expectations that I would often return from my alone time feeling like I had wasted it or, else, find myself wandering around the grocery store rationalizing it as me-time.

When you give yourself a whole weekend away, you can get over those tendencies to use your alone time on errands without kids (lame!) and start using that time to rejuvenate your spirit, remember what you love to do, and do it!


How To Plan The Perfect Weekend Getaway:
Step 1: Stop planning for it to be perfect
Let it be what it is. Keep your expectations low, but plan to have a good time. Give yourself the freedom to nap (I almost always crash when I have a couple hours of downtime) or to eat what you want when you want or to do nothing at all. Leaving margin in your travel plans allows you to relax and go with the flow, which is exactly what you need, Mama!
Step 2: Be true to where you're at
If you can't spend a ton of money on a big getaway, find a way to do it on the cheap so you don't waste time feeling guilty about it (or worse, pay for it plus interest afterwards!) If you need time away from people, plan a solo or partner trip with someone who fills you up, like your spouse or best friend. There are times to plan around other people and there are times you may need to be totally selfish in order to really relax. Learn to distinguish between the two and be okay with putting yourself first for once.
Step 3: Put the to-do list away!
Plan and prepare for your trip and then put that expectation-inducing-list away for good. Let the weekend roll by. Let yourself relax, agenda-less, for at least a whole day. This time is about decompressing, letting go of responsibilities, and taking care of you and only you, Mama. Just chill.

[caption id="attachment_312" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Don't mind the blurriness #selfiefail[/caption]
Take care of you
Wherever you end up going and whatever you end up doing, make sure it's something that makes you happy and fulfilled and doesn't cause you a ton of stress. Some stress is normal when you're traveling, but don't let yourself get caught up in the little things. Only you know what makes you most relaxed so, while I can share some ideas, only you can decide what's best for you.


What's your ideal getaway weekend?
Need Rest?
Try relaxing at the beach, soaking in the sun. Head to a snowy mountain cabin with a book and lots of firewood. Drive into the city and spend the whole day chilling in a coffee shop or browsing a museum.
Need Purpose?
Join a short-term missions group; see another place and give a little of yourself. Volunteer at an event or ministry where you feel needed and valuable. Visit an elderly family member and spend the weekend doing what they do.
Need A Change of Scenery?
Go camping or hiking. Visit a state or national park (and take loads of pictures to share!). Visit a nature preserve.
Need People?
Visit family far away. Head into a big city, like LA, New York, or Vegas, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of humanity. Take along your best friends and/or your spouse.
Self-care is others-care in disguise
Whatever you do, do it knowing that a little break will make you a better mom. A happy mom can give so much more of herself to her kids and hubby because she has so much more of herself available. Your self-care is directly linked to your ability to care for others, so don't neglect you, Mama!

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How to Shake Off This Funk

Sometimes you're just blue. How do you shake off the funk when it won't go away? Click through for 10 ideas and a free printable with 50 more!
As someone who has dealt with depression at some level for the last 9 years, I totally understand the funk. I often describe it as a wave. The sadness builds slowly, picking up momentum under the surface of whatever other emotions I might be feeling, and then crashes over me at the most (seemingly) random times. It wasn't until I started seeing a therapist that I began to recognize those triggers and do something about them before the wave drowned me. Today, I want to share with you some of the things that help me keep my feet on the ground.

Whether you're battling depression or just having a bad week, these tips can help you find your happy place again.

(Please note: If your funk has lasted more than a few months or you're thinking scary thoughts, then please, please, please stop trying to pull yourself out of it and go see someone!  Talk to your doctor, get recommendations for a good therapist in your area, or call 1-800-THERAPIST for a confidential recommendation.)
10 Tips for Getting Out of Your Funk:

Rest Those Hardworking Muscles! As a Mama, your number one complaint is probably lack of sleep. Am I right? Girl, put that phone down and go to bed! I know how hard it can be to get to bed on time. With littles to care for (who may or may not still need you in the middle of the night) or older ones with homework and sports and unending time in the car plus household tasks and quality time with the hubby and all your other commitments... It all adds up and before you know it, you're folding the laundry at midnight, crying quietly cause you just want to go to sleep. Well, I'm here to tell you: For your sake, put the laundry down! Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep. If a tiny cry will interrupt your beauty hours, then plan to stay in bed as long as takes to fill up on sleep. If ever there was an encouraged use for iPads, it's during those early morning hours!
You Are What You Eat: Food plays such an important part in every aspect of your physical and mental well-being. Make sure you're getting enough calories every day and that most of them are coming from whole foods. That means cut down on those processed foods and refined sugars, Mama. I know you only want to eat ice cream in the middle of the day... grab an apple instead. Your body will thank you!
Check your levels: It's always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor and have them run blood tests. Deficiencies in iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and others can all contribute to suppressed moods.
Get Moving: Exercise has been shown again and again and again to improve depressive symptoms because it increases your dopamine and serotonin levels, two major players in the mood game. Plus, sweating is a great way to work out aggression for things you might not have any control over. Many a good rage has been dispelled with weights in my hands.
Go Outside: Ever wonder why sunshine makes people happy? It's because the sun helps your body produce vitamin D! Not to mention it's warm and comfortable and invites you out into the fresh air and wonderful, wide world where birds sing and children giggle and moms get tan. Oh, February... I wish you were July... This Pacific Northwestern girl is missing her some sunny days and poolside outings right about now!
Create something: Take time for yourself and make something you love. It can be a painting, a drawing, photos of your kids or nature, one of the many DIY projects you've been pinning for 'later'. Make later today.
Use all your senses: Smell is often left off the list of self-care to-dos but, I'm telling you what, diffusing my favorite essential oils or lighting a tantalizing candle can really shift my mood quick. Essential oils have many benefits, the most significant of which is known as aromatherapy (which doesn't have a 'therapy' in its name for no reason). My favorite oils for blue days are Quiet Time, Bergamot, and Cinnamon.
Practice gratitude: Gratitude has more beneficial effects on your body than I could ever list here! Stop for a minute and think of five things you are grateful for. Or better yet, make a list and post it somewhere you'll see it again.
Find the thing that makes you happy and prioritize it: If you love gardening, set aside time to be outside with a shovel and some seeds. If you love writing, plan to have Hubby put the kids to bed so you can write or journal without interruption. If you love hiking, then dust off your boots and get out there. If you love... You get the idea. If something makes you happy and you can shift your schedule or let something else go so you can do that thing, then do it! A happy Mama is an effective Mama.
Let some things go: Thanks to Facebook and Pinterest and, ahem, mom blogs, there's a TON of pressure to be awesome at everything, especially if you're at home during the day. It's easy to feel like you've got be on top of everything from whole foods to organization to a spotless house to the newest parenting trend to fashion to... the list goes on. Mama, you can't do it all. Let me say that again. You CAN'T do it all. I can't either. And we're not even supposed to. So pick your battles, fight for what's important to you, and let the rest of it go. Let it go, let it go... Now it's going to be stuck in your head all day. Sorry 'bout that.

That's my list. What would you add? Tell us in the comments!

Blessing upon blessing,

Jessi

 



 
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