I had to put this one first because I am kind of geeking out over everything I’m learning lately about plants and their abilities to better our bodies. After healing my brown recluse bite with plantain earlier this summer, I was all in on the herbs as medicine concept. For some reason I hear the body and the mind referred to separately for the most part, but research shows much of your mood in controlled by your gut, which is controlled by what you put in your gut. So, food really can help or hurt your state of mind.
I love this tincture by Birthsong Botanicals, and I’m still taking it even though most would say I’ve long phased out of the “Postpartum” window. It’s full of potent organic calming herbs like Chamomile and Lemon Balm, and it makes me feel sane somehow when my babies are running around screaming their little heads off.
I also saw results when I took Ashwagandha for my anxiety and depression after my first was born. Turmeric is wonderful, too—it has serious anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation plays a big role in mood and perspective. Other soothing, gut healing supplements include L Glutamine, probiotics, gelatin or bone broth, and SAMe. I write more about gut healing HERE.
Get Outside/ Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is being linked to every type of disease lately, and it’s no secret that it directly impacts your mood. The average person is more likely to feel depressed and negative during the winter months when they aren’t getting any direct sun to skin exposure. Even just sitting on a blanket in the grass for half an hour a day or going for a short walk can greatly improve your mood. On days we aren’t able to get outside, we supplement with high quality Vitamin D drops. The first time I had labs run to check my D level (a year or so after Edie was born, in the thick of my mental illness), it was something like 20. Now it hovers right around 60, which is in optimal range.
I recommend a counselor who has maybe been somewhere similar, so in this case, a mama who can empathize. I was fortunate enough to find mine early on, and I saw her every week or every other week for three straight years. She specializes in postpartum mental health, and having someone to just say, “Of course you feel this way,” meant EVERYTHING to me when I felt totally alone in early motherhood. She also helped bridge the communication gap between my husband and me I don’t know how many times. Mothering a new baby after trauma was a huge learning curve for me, but my husband was going through just as much change, too. It was too easy for us to just give up on one another at times, when we actually needed each other more than ever.
This one was a big surprise for me, but oh my GOODNESS it works! Throughout the course of a 20 to 30 minute session, I feel the tension in my body relax and I leave feeling a hundred pounds lighter. And I will say—I never would have tried acupuncture intentionally. I thought I was going to this place for acu-PRESSURE. Like, massage. Not needles. And then it kind of all happened so quickly before I could think about it, and I am so so glad it did. Acupuncture played a vital role in my stress relief on my hardest days. I’ve never gone regularly (although I hope to one day have the budget to do so!), but my husband got to the point where he’d see my panic and say, “Let’s get you in for acupuncture today or tomorrow.” The results really are that immediate.
I talk about this all of the time, but yoga has taught me SO MUCH MORE than just stretching and holding my body in funny positions. The deep breathing idea has been absolutely priceless to me in overcoming my panic attack disorder, and I’m now able to pass it on to my daugthers and see how it already helps them handle their big feelings as toddlers, too.
Other forms of self care (solo workouts, reading, baths, pamper sessions, whatever fills your cup) are always a good idea, too, but I know how impossible those can feel to fit in during the early seasons of motherhood. Most of the above can be done while holding a baby, and they can make major positive changes to your mental health.
You are strong, Mama! <3