Coping with Postpartum Depression During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 22 2021

Do you feel like you can’t bond with your baby this holiday season? Or maybe you just had your baby. It’s been a few weeks, but you still can’t shake the perpetual mental fog or find joy in the first smiles?

You are not alone.

If this describes you, then your uninvited holiday guest this year may be postpartum depression. In fact, 1 in 7 women (and 1 in 10 men) experience postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect women (and some men) after childbirth. Postpartum depression creates overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sadness that can affect a parent’s ability to care for their baby.

Postpartum depression can make daily tasks, like getting out of bed or taking a shower, feel impossible. In the past, you may have found joy in shopping for gifts and sending the perfect Christmas card — now you may feel like you’re just trying to survive.

We understand the holidays are demanding. They're especially stressful for a new parent. Below are a few small actions you can take to make this season a little bit easier for you and your family. ‍

First, ground yourself. ‍

Your days have changed to constant diaper changes and feeding sessions. It’s easy to become lost in the routine. If you’re feeling disconnected from yourself or your family, try these two grounding 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.

Grounding yourself regularly can help balance your thoughts and feelings and increase your presence. 

Leave the house‍.

Postpartum depression is isolating. You may feel like you’re in a mental state 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 might lift your mood. Leaving the house can be as simple as:

  • A short walk around your neighborhood 
  • A trip to the grocery store
  • A drive to see holiday lights 
  • Window shopping at your local mall or holiday market

If you’re struggling with getting out of bed, consider how a change of environment can be a mood-booster. You might realize that getting out of your home can help get you out of your head and clear up some of that brain fog. 

Make a new holiday tradition.

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. 

There are positive changes you can make now to cope with your emotions. Instead of feeling pressured to buy gifts for others, send a thoughtful card or hand-made gift. No matter what, avoid putting pressure on yourself to “do it all.” Choose one or two traditions this holiday season to embrace.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Decorate cookies
  • Read your baby a holiday-themed book
  • Watch a holiday movie
  • Put on a winter playlist
  • Make hot cocoa

Most importantly, be present with the ritual you choose. Start small so you can appreciate the joy that simplicity sparks.

Remember to practice self-care.

It’s easy to care for everyone but yourself during the holidays. You're also worried about your baby’s health, your symptoms, body changes, and endless to-do lists. 

To focus on yourself, consider starting a self-care routine. A few ideas include:

  • Write notes and tape them where you can see them, like on your kitchen cabinets or laptop. You can even write messages of encouragement on your mirror like: “Be strong.” “I am loved.” “I accept myself.” ‍
  • Light a candle, take a hot bath, or do something calming like yoga or meditation 
  • Listen to or play music that makes you happy
  • Say no when you need time and space for yourself
  • Take time from work if you need it and can

If you or a loved one are showing signs of postpartum depression, don’t wait to get help. Talk with your doctor or mental health professional to see what resources are available to you. 

And if you’re a new parent and you’re struggling this holiday season, remember to be kind to yourself. You’ve been through a huge life change, and you can get through this, too.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health emergency, do not use this site. Instead, call 911 or use one of these emergency resources.

Get guidance throughout your mental health journey.

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