This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week – a week-long campaign that aims to raise awareness of mental health problems during and after pregnancy. There is so much stigma around perinatal mental health, even though around 20% of women experience it, which often leads to women not seeking the support and treatment that might help them.
I have compiled a few links that may be of help for anyone suffering from maternal mental health issues, or for those looking to support someone in their life (perhaps a partner, friend or family member).
- Follow the Maternal Mental Health Alliance on Instagram for more information and resources on Maternal Mental Awareness Week – they will be running initiatives all week to encourage awareness.
- What is perinatal mental health? Mind shares information here on the different types of perinatal and postpartum mental health problems and a page on how to seek support here.
- The Association for Post Natal illness runs a free, confidential helpline – see more details here. It also has a useful page of advice for how to support someone who is suffering from postnatal depression here.
- Tommys has created a Pregnancy and Post-birth Wellbeing Plan – designed to help mothers-to-be to think about mental health during and after pregnancy.
The tools I use for my mental health
I also thought it might be helpful to share the tools that I use for my own mental health: one of the best things that I do is ensuring that I get sufficient exercise and I also meditate regularly. I find when I haven’t exercised that my temper is short, I get frustrated easily and I am generally agitated; I feel like my to-do list is never ending; I am overwhelmed by both life and work.
Exercise is so simple, yet has huge benefits. Often when we are working parents, exercise is one of the first things that falls off the list. When you’re busy with work, and coping with illnesses brought home from nursery every other week, exercise can be so hard to fit in.
A couple of months ago, after having Covid and going through a busy period at work with lots of proposals to write and clients to support, I realised that I didn’t do any proper exercise for three weeks! Luckily, I try to do as much inadvertent exercise as possible, including walking George to-and-from school and bike riding on the weekends.
I find one of the best ways to exercise is to either have fun with George, like kicking a football around our back garden (it’s great stress relief and brings me into the present moment), booking into a pilates class on a Friday morning when things at work tend to be quiet (booking into both your diary and the class itself makes it a doubly hard commitment to miss), or doing a YouTube video with some weights or cardio. Sometimes I’ll do a super short workout, like for 12 minutes, and I see a difference.
Exercising for performance
According to performance expert and NY Times bestselling author, Steven Kotler, doing a good workout can also help you to be much more productive, creative and effective. I loved listening to this podcast with Kotler.
If you’ve heard a lot about meditation and don’t know where to start, I recommend the Insight Timer app, where there are thousands of free meditations for anxiety, stress and sleep. I use it every week, and at times, every day.
I do Vedic meditation, which is 20 minutes per day, twice a day. I find that I often don’t do the second meditation (just being honest), but I often do the first one and yes, it’s often interrupted by George! But even doing five minutes helps to rinse out stress, anxiety and past trauma. It also helps me to have more clarity on my work, which as a business owner is so important to know how and where I need to drive things forward.
If you’re interested in Vedic meditation, I went to London Meditation Centre, or I can chat in the DMs on Instagram.
I hope that this blog post helps you.
Listen to my podcast appearance on Anna Mathur’s Therapy Edit podcast below – we touch on how women can overcome issues of confidence and self-esteem in the workplace, and I share my own personal story of the struggles I faced on returning to work after the birth of my son.