Before my daughter was born, I was accustomed to have a lot of time to myself to unwind and recharge. Even though I worked full time, I had time to watch movies, read novels, go for long walks, and spend hours at coffee shops with friends. Not so after baby arrived! I believe that mothers losing time for their hobbies, leisure activities, friends, and things that make them feel like THEMSELVES, can contribute to postpartum mood disorders.
Being constantly “on call” is draining, and it can be hard to relax even when your baby is sleeping. You know that at any second they can wake up crying and in need of care. So even if the potential for relaxing time is there, the unpredictable endpoint decreases its effectiveness. If you leave your baby with Dad, a family member, or a sitter, you still may feel tense, wondering if or when you’ll get a phone call from home.
However, self care and time for yourself are vital in preventing and recovering from perinatal mood disorders. So how can you recharge with limited time or energy, especially when you may feel barely capable of meeting your physical needs like eating or showering? I believe that at least part of the answer is taking this time in small amounts, more frequently. Your days of uninterrupted novel-reading, bath-taking, or movie-watching may be on hold, but even 5 minutes here or there specifically for yourself can be very helpful.
Here are a few suggestions for self-care activities that take less than 5 minutes and can be done while your baby or toddler is awake:
1. Watch a funny video or two on youtube (right now Weird Al Yankovich videos really brighten my day!).
2. Listen to a song by your favorite musical artist.
3. Do a little yoga (ex. sun salutation, warrior sequence).
4. Read a magazine article.5. Walk around the block.
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