There are many challenges to becoming a mum, with as many as 30 percent of women reporting depressive symptoms in the postnatal period. A new baby brings a lot of joy, but equally brings numerous issues that, if not addressed, can lead to a deterioration in a mothers overall well being.
Lack of Sleep, physical fatigue, financial strain, lack of quality time with a partner, or even the stress of being a single parent can all be part of the problem, that if not managed can lead to a low mood or even post-natal depression.
Having a baby brings many hormonal changes that can lead to low of self-confidence. But more importantly, before children you had a sense of identity; you were a work colleague, a friend, a sister or daughter, you wore many hats, but after having a baby everyone now identifies you as ‘ just mum’, and you can lose your identity, which leads to a loss of losing self-confidence. If you can regain your identity, you can begin to regain your confidence. So it’s important to not let yourself become ‘just mum’, but to show people that you are much more than that.
Mums need to empower themselves to take control over their own wellbeing. The good news is that it can be possible to take control, set new goals and make positive choices to make a better life for both parent and child.
It starts by challenging negative thoughts and to incorporate more positive affirmations in daily activities.
Self-empowerment can be incredibly liberating and means an individual is in control of their own life, viewing problems in a more positive light. It means being active instead of just passive, to gain some autonomy, whilst also still feeling connected to others.
There can be major obstacles to gaining self-empowered, particularly for mums. There is a huge emotional pull towards their children, as well as cultural and social conditioning that works against the goal of self-empowerment.
But this cultural conditioning should be resisted, as it is a barrier to a better life for both mother, child and the wider family. To empower ourselves we have to learn to like ourselves, clear unresolved issues that can clog our thinking, and try to eradicate the negative voice that can often have too much influence on our thoughts.
3 Ways to Empower yourself as a Mum
1. Know Yourself – Acknowledge and understand yourself and how you are feeling. We all go through a range of emotions during an average day, so it’s important to know how you feel and how you react when you feel stressed. Practice mindfulness; being in the moment. It takes practice but you will find yourself becoming more fulfilled when you become more focused and more aware of the little moments that make up the day. You will find better coping mechanisms to deal with negative thoughts as they occur.
2. Acceptance - It’s important to accept and like yourself as you are. We all have flaws and we all make mistakes, the trick is accepting this and to understand that you are doing your best, and sometimes you might not please everyone. That’s not to say you cannot strive to be better. But start from the premise that you are an awesome person, you’re a mum after all! That’s the most important job in the world, but you are so much more as well. So start liking and accepting yourself before setting goals for improvement in the areas you want.
3. Self-Care – Make time for yourself. Take better care of yourself; try to sleep better, eat better, take exercise and indulge in activities that your enjoy. It’s not a crime to enjoy yourself once you become a mum! Take a new course, or join a club, or have an occasional night out with your partner or friends. These shouldn’t be ‘nice to haves’ these activities are a crucial part of empowering yourself. As you grow and indulge in new activities, people will start to see and accept you as being much more than just a mum.
The demands of motherhood often result in new mums putting their own physical health and wellbeing on hold whilst they focus solely on their baby. During the in-flight safety briefing on an aircraft we’re told to attend to our own oxygen mask before our child’s, with good reason, for if the parents brain becomes starved of oxygen even for a few moments they become incapable of looking after their child. The same rule applies in everyday life. Mums need to put their own health and wellbeing first, so they are in the best frame of mind to give the love and attention they want to their child.
There is an increasing drive and focus on happiness and wellbeing. In the workplace more and more businesses are starting to realise the costs involved in not looking after the emotional wellbeing of their staff. In our own personal lives there is also a growing awareness that we should take more control of our wellbeing. But how do we go about it? Where can we start? The Stress Management Society has done some research and has developed a useful 10 step action guide called the 10 Ps of Happiness.
1) Purpose – having a deeper reason and meaning to your existence.
2) Peacefulness – finding the stillness within, mindfulness and being present in the moment.
3) Playtime – pleasure and fun; taking time out for hobbies, pastimes, leisure and social activities.
4) Physical and Psychological Health – finding the balance; looking after yourself mentally, physically and emotionally.
5) People – your support network; friends, peers, family and social connections.
6) Passion – having things that you care deeply about, inspire you and bring about a sense of fulfilment and happiness.
7) Profession – is what you do for a living something you could do for free if money was no object? Is it something that brings you fulfilment and joy? Is your career a source of happiness?
8) Philosophy – spirituality: believing in something beyond yourself that connects you to something bigger.
9) Positivity & Power – do you see the opportunities and the potential in all aspects of your life? Is your glass half full? Do you feel you have the power (the ability to do or act) to create the life you deserve?
10) Philanthropy – are you contributing to making the world a better place? When we live for more than just ourselves, it increases our self-esteem, self-worth and in turn, happiness.
Using the steps above as a starting point you can gain some insight into how you might improve your personal happiness. Like anything, it does take some effort, so why not give yourself an action plan with some achievable goals? Work through each of the 10 Ps to start to find inner peace and happiness.
These steps can be useful for mums who want to start on the journey of self-empowerment. We have chosen 3 steps from the plan and outlined some ideas as to how a mum could start regain self-confidence and happiness.
With all three points, think about what are you doing at the moment? What could you be doing? What would you like to achieve? Set a time frame, say 30 days and start to work towards those achievable goals!
Action Point 1 - People
Empowerment is about taking action and one of the most important aspects for this is your support network, friends, peers, family and social connections. Knowing that you have a ‘safety net’ in place can allow you to feel supported and empowered as there are people that have your back.
YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
What kind of support network do you have? This can be anyone from your best friend, a family member, or a counsellor. There may be a whole group of people that support you, or just one.
Write down the name of the person who you can turn to:
FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
IN AN EMERGENCY
FOR A CONFIDENCE BOOST
FOR A REALITY CHECK
Action Point 2 – Playtime
You lose your identity when you become a mum, and you may find yourself putting the needs of others before your own. You will start to feel guilty about wanting to do things that you enjoy and so you avoid them. But there is no law against you relaxing and enjoying yourself when you become a mum, if fact it is something you should strive to do. This mind-set has to be resisted and changed. Pleasure and fun are important aspects of being a happy rounded individual. You must take time out for hobbies, pastimes, leisure and social activities. As with the People category set out where you are now, and what kinds of things you enjoy and want to do, how much time you have and then work towards ensure you have a plan to make sure your playtime doesn’t get sacrificed.
MY ACTION PLAN
Write down a plan with 3 points of action—for playtime – what do you aim to achieve over the next 30 days as a result of this workshop?
Action Point 1 (Daily activities, ie listen to music, go for a walk)
Action Point 2 (Weekly activities, ie join a gym, take up a hobby)
Action Point 3 (Monthly activities, ie night out with friends/partner)
Action Point 3 – Peacefulness
Finding inner peace is important to gaining control of your life and ultimately happiness. Letting go of worries, or obsessive thoughts isn’t easy and does take time, but like the other steps it can be done and striving for inner peace can bring a lot of benefits. The technique here is called ‘mindfulness’ and that means being present in the moment, without judgement – just present and observing what is.
Most stress happens in the past or the future – because we are concerned with things that haven’t happened yet, or things that have already occurred. Spending time just ‘being’ in the present moment allows us to reduce stress, gain focus and improve overall wellbeing.
MY ACTION PLAN
Write down a plan with 3 points of action—for peacefulness – what do you aim to achieve over the next 30 days as a result of this workshop?
Action Point 1 (Daily activities, ie simple breathing exercises)
Action Point 2 (Weekly activities, ie start to learn meditation)
Action Point 3 (Monthly activities, ie yoga, or practice meditation with others)
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