Welcome to the final part of my routine series. You can find links to all previous posts and printables below:
The final routine I want to share is a weekly one. When you’re on maternity leave and finding your feet with a new baby it can be hard to remember what date or even what day it is! Your previously structured life may begin to feel much more chaotic, and this is a feeling Anxiety loves to use to torture us.
In an attempt to get some control back over my thoughts and lift my mood I incorporated the following things into almost every week during the first year after Caterpillar was born.
Visit a baby group or class
Early motherhood can feel really isolating for some of us. It’s very difficult if you don’t have any close friends or family with young children, and even if you do there’s nothing quite like the comfort of having a natter with a parent who has a baby very close in age to yours. During that first year or two, babies change with such frequency it’s great to find a connection with someone that tells you you’re not alone.
It can be very intimidating to visit a baby class for the first time, and it might take a while for you to find one that suits you but if you persevere it could make a big difference to your day to day mood and increase your bond with your baby.
Read more: The Benefits of Baby & Toddler Classes
Do some exercise
I’m not a very active person so you’d think I’d be the last one to advise incorporating exercise into your weekly routine however when I was suffering very acutely from Anxiety I found attending an organised exercise class once or twice a week gave me an lift via an endorphin boost, staved off isolation and helped me to sleep. Search for an ‘Active Mums’ programme in your area or ask your health visitor or local children’s centre for details of local programmes.
Read more: 5 Reasons Exercise Is Good For Anxiety
Face a fear or challenge
I’ve written many times about the importance of gradually pushing yourself when it comes to long-term Anxiety recovery. Once I’d begun to manage my most acute symptoms and got my sleep, appetite and ability to function back, I began to challenge myself once a week to face something I was afraid of. One of my worst fears was being alone at home with my son but I gradually began increasing the time I spent alone to expose myself to that fear.
Although it feels dreadfully uncomfortable at first, and may even trigger a panic attack, forcing yourself to do the things you’re afraid of is the best and only real way through Anxiety. Remember to keep track of your progress too with a kindness journal or just an achievement list in your notebook. It will help you to stay positive during recovery.
Keep dates with positive people
I would spend at least one or two days a week with my best friend and/or my mum. They gave me comfort, practical help and lifted my spirits slightly. If you’re lucky enough to have someone like that in your life to support you, please accept their help.
Do something from your old life
It’s so important during both recovery and new motherhood in general to keep your identity front and centre of your mind. You’re a mum, yes, but you’re still you. A practical reminder for this might be to incorporate something from your pre-baby life into every week – this could be anything from seeing old friends or spending a few minutes on a favourite hobby or comforting TV favourite.
Read more: The Mixed Up Identity Of Modern Mums
Overall, the way I spent my days during recovery was to fill them. The longer you spend alone, trying fruitlessly to untangle the negative thoughts spiralling in your head, the worst you’re going to feel. “Don’t dwell, just do” was one of my motos and it was a good survival strategy.
What do you incorporate into each week that helps you?