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Do you feel like you can’t bond with your baby this holiday season? You just had your baby, or it’s been a few weeks, but you still can’t shake the perpetual mental fog or find joy in the first smiles. If this describes you, then your uninvited holiday guest this year may be postpartum depression.
In the past, you may have found joy in shopping for holiday gifts and sending the perfect Christmas card—now you’re trying to survive. This is postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression makes daily tasks feel impossible, like getting out of bed or taking a shower, but you don’t have to feel alone. 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men experience postpartum (or paternal postpartum) depression.
At SonderMind, we understand the holidays are demanding. They're especially stressful for a new parent. We’re here for you. Below are steps you can take right now to make your holiday season a little bit easier and happier.
First, ground yourself
Your days have changed from endless free time to constant diaper changes and feeding sessions. It’s easy to become lost in the routine and your holiday to-do list.
If you’re feeling disconnected from yourself or your family, try these two techniques. First, acknowledge what you can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. This exercise will bring you surprising clarity.
To stay present—take deep breaths. An easy technique to remember is: inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 2 counts, exhale for 6 counts and repeat.
Leave the house
Postpartum depression is isolating. You may feel like you’re in a mental jail that you can’t escape, or you’re too tired to leave your home. Take small steps to challenge yourself.
Since the holiday spirit is plentiful this time of the year, a trip outside can lift your spirits. Leaving can be as simple as a short walk around your home or a trip to the grocery store. A more extended trip to see Christmas lights, window shop at your local mall or a seasonal market are mood-boosters, too.
Make holiday traditions meaningful
Avoid putting pressure on yourself to “do it all.” Instead, choose one or two rituals this holiday season. In times of social media perfection, It’s important to have realistic expectations of what you can or cannot do—especially when dealing with postpartum depression. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Bake gingerbread cookies
Light a candle each night before Christmas
Read your baby a Christmas themed book
Drive around looking for Christmas lights
Most importantly, be present with the rituals you choose. Start small so you can appreciate the joy that simplicity sparks.
Remember to practice self-care
It’s easy to focus on anyone but yourself during the holidays. You're worried about your baby’s health, your symptoms, body changes, and endless to-do-lists. There are positive changes you can make now to cope with the depression.
First, instead of feeling pressured to buy each family member a gift, opt for a gift-less Christmas. Send a thoughtful card or hand-made gift like your baby’s clay foot-print.
To focus on yourself, write yourself notes and tape them where you can see them—like your kitchen cabinets or laptop. You can even write messages of love on your mirror like: “Be strong.” “I am loved.” “I accept myself.” Not only will this help you grieve your old self, but you’ll also begin to accept your new self—postpartum.
SonderMind can help
Be kind to yourself—you’ve been through a huge life change. Therapy is an excellent place to start if you're finding it difficult to talk about your symptoms.
A SonderMind therapist can help you set boundaries with family members, and suggest lifestyle changes to manage your stress. We can match you with a therapist that best supports you, so you can learn how to be present for your family and yourself this holiday season.