Let’s be real, this isn’t how you expected your pregnancy and postpartum period to look. You may be worried about your health, worrying about your unborn or newborn baby. You may feel more isolated feeling stuck inside your home and glued to the daily news. The uncertainty of tomorrow is becoming overwhelming and you feel helpless.
All of these feelings can be very normal considering these unprecedented times. The truth is, we may not be able to manage what’s going to happen next, but we can control how we respond.
Below are five tips to use to manage this difficult situation.
Routine is critical to maintain stable mood
Getting up and going to bed at the same time allows for healthy sleep regimen. Routine can allow for you to feel a sense of purpose and set daily goals which can help stabilize your mood. This can be done in little steps, like changing out of your pajamas and putting on daytime clothing even while in quarantine, self-isolation or working from home.
Stay grounded and mindful in your daily activities
Anxiety often leaves us thinking, ‘what if?’ and constantly worrying about the future. By focusing on your daily activities (ie. washing dishes, going for a walk, eating meals, feeding your toddler or newborn), being present can allow for you to take a break from your daily worry.
Social distancing can be very isolating if you don’t reach out to friends and family. Thankfully, we have the good fortune of having advanced technology and can easily stay-in-touch with loved ones over video conferencing and social media. Start looking at connection differently- this can mean celebrating birthdays virtually, scheduling online play dates for your little ones and have some much need girl time chit-chat on FaceTime. Building rituals of connection with your family can be valuable to managing your time away from your regular routine, such as family walks or cooking dinner together.
Practice self care
Spending so much time with your partner or another child can be exhausting and it is ok to admit it. Everyone needs some time to take care of their own needs. Whether it’s having an uninterrupted shower, doing an online yoga class or savouring a warm cup of coffee. Thinking of yourself is critical to maintaining healthy relationships. Make sure that self-care is more than just watching TV or checking social media. With so much negative news, these coping techniques can stimulate even more anxiety.
Challenge your unhelpful worry
Worry is often created by fear, associated with feeling a lack of control. The truth is, we can not control the pandemic, however, we can control how we respond to our unhelpful thinking. Acknowledge that you are unable to think clearly when you are stressed. It’s most important to remember that our thoughts are not facts. By writing down factual evidence, you can decrease your anxiety and start to acknowledge what you are able to control. For instance, you can control doing your part by socially distancing and understanding that currently, 95 percent of those currently tested for COVID-19 are negative, you’re not alone, you can still connect with family and professional supports virtually. Acknowledging the facts will allow you to feel better.
Remember if you feel your anxiety or mood is interfering with your ability to function, help is available.
Samantha Attinello is a registered social worker who has been working as a psychotherapist and mental health professional for the past 15 years working at various hospitals in the GTA including St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Toronto Western and most recently William Osler Health System. She obtained her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Social Work from Carleton University and holds a BA in Psychology from McMaster University. She also has certifications in cognitive behaviour therapy from Hinks Dellcrest Institute. As well as, completed some training from the Gottman Institute specializing in couples therapy. She has worked in various areas of mental health with a special interest in Women’s Mental Health and Couples Counselling. Formally, she founded and led the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at William Osler Health and has continued to work with women and couples on their goals.