Mental health and postpartum depression go hand in hand, yet new mothers still aren’t taught how to care for their mental health post-birth.
By Engie Hassan
When it comes to balancing career and motherhood, my main focus is how I can attempt to do everything while keeping good mental health.
Mental health is the foundation to everything in our lives. We need to feel emotionally healthy for ourselves, our relationships, our careers, clients, and most importantly, our children.
After my beautiful daughter was born, a whole new and lonely struggle opened up that not enough people are talking about: When you work outside the home and then become a mom, the balance between your two worlds seems nearly impossible. How do we give 100% of ourselves to each role? How do you continue to build your career, be a good and present mother, and still have time for to work on your mental health?
Throughout my career, I have been so amazed at how open women can be when it comes to sharing fashion tips, intimate beauty secrets and social successes, yet we remain closed off when discussing how we are really feeling. And although mental health is discussed much more openly now, it still may not be a common topic over coffee amongst friends—but it should be.
There is little emphasis on the well-being of the mother compared to the well-being of our babies. That’s where your village comes in.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I fully understand what that meant. And I’ll go one step further: I believe this village of amazing humans by your side is necessary to navigate through all of life’s various journeys, not just motherhood.
I consider myself very blessed to have crossed paths with so many strong, kind, and successful women thus far (mothers and non-mothers alike). We keep each other balanced and we are there for each other. We check in to make sure we are taking care of our physical health and mental health. We keep each other strong.
From my village to yours, I’m sharing useful tips I use and have learned from others, in hopes that it will help even just one strong mama trying to balance it all. Perhaps it will encourage her to do the same for someone else.
You need your “me time”. It sounds cliché, but it’s necessary and sometimes life-saving. Have a village that is ready to give you some “me time”. Hired help is great, but most of the time that’s really for when you’re working, which is not time for just you. Ask a friend or two or three to commit to a certain amount of time to watch your baby while you go get your nails done, go to the gym, take a stroll or just grab a cup of coffee and breathe. Sometimes just 30 minutes of real “me” time can feel like a whole day at the spa and benefit your mental health.
An important reminder
Remind yourself that you don’t have to be everywhere and be doing everything. Bless the moms who can, but some of us just don’t have time. You can have a Post-It if needed to remind yourself that you are doing your best and it does not make you less than or not a perfect mom to your child just because you do not post new creative pics on your Instagram daily.
Speaking of which, regulate your social media. I personally think it can benefit your mental health to have the support and see other women embracing the balance of being a working mother, but if you think it will just result in you comparing yourself to other mamas who you think are doing “more” than you, it’s okay to take a break from social media or delete it all together.
Take at least 1 minute of quiet time in the morning when you wake and also before you sleep. Just close your eyes and smile—I promise it helps.
Add little reminders in your phone (schedule them to go off at least 2 times a day) to remind you that you’ve got this and/or you’re doing great. It feels good to remind yourself you are doing the best you can.
Do a 5-minute check-in with a friend every day. It takes 5 minutes or less to say “Hi, how are you? I just wanted to wish you a productive day, I love you!” It makes you feel good and it makes that friend feel even better.
Yes, even if you are living in your favorite pair of yoga pants, go ahead and add a bright color tee, jacket or lipstick. Quarantine has sucked the fun out of dressing up each day, but it doesn’t have to. Get into those jeans, blow out your hair, do something that makes you feel good about yourself and about who’s looking back at you in the mirror. It makes a world of difference.
Look at your relationships
Surround yourself with non-judgmental people: It is okay to take a break from friends or family while you’re trying to navigate this new chapter. Sometimes the closest people in our lives make us the most anxious. It’s okay to take a break from people to help your mental health.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Don’t compare yourself with other women unless it’s to inspire. Everyone has their own path and everyone has certain struggles that you aren’t privy to.
Be honest. Share your challenges/experiences with others to inspire them. That alone will make you feel positive that you could help someone and remind them that they are not alone.
Try to meditate for 10 minutes a day. Meditation helps control our emotions and our bodies to relax, but fair warning: This process may result in enhanced physical and mental health. 😉
You don’t have to incorporate all of these into your daily life—even just one makes a major difference in mental health. The point is to do something however big or small for you and your well-being at least once a day.
Congratulations on this next chapter of your life, mama—you’re already doing great!