The media has given a lot of coverage recently to mental health and with some high profile supporters it has come to the forefront of everyone’s minds – and rightly so. With 25% of the UK population experiencing some form of mental health in their adult years it is a lot more common than we think. A large proportion of mental health issues are around depression and anxiety, often derived from stressful busy lives or traumatic events.
Add into the mix female hormones throughout the pre and postnatal stages, baby blues and postnatal depression this topic is very important for Mums and Mums-to-be. The overwhelming feeling of new responsibilities, not really knowing what ‘to-do’ and making comparisons to others are things that I hear on a weekly basis in the coffee shops. We are honestly our own worst enemy, pretending that we are all ok, whilst feeling lonely or isolated in a new, unfamiliar ‘Mum’ world.
I felt low, I felt blue and I felt anxious that this little bundle relied on me and I really didn’t know how all-consuming it was going to be. There are so many aspects of pregnancy, labour and the postnatal recovery that no-one speaks of and I wish we would. Then I would have felt vaguely ‘normal’ in those early days, realising that everyone else was experiencing these same feelings.
With all the media coverage, I was aware that I could spiral downwards, stay inside in my PJ’s and kid myself that I was ‘chilling out’ on my maternity leave. Or I could recognise that it was going to be tough but I needed to get out and meet some new faces. One day, I got up and dressed, organised the massive nappy bag and set out with my baby for a ‘walk’ to find other ladies who were pacing the streets too! Honestly, whatever came over me that day, saved me. I walked and talked, met some Mums and found out about some fantastic things going on in the local community. That wasn’t the end of the story, it was hard. Sometimes I had to drag myself off the sofa, put a smile on my face but I did it. I felt better and more able to cope, I was more positive and knew that a ‘bad day’ was just that ‘a bad day’ as there was a new one just around the corner! I found that these ‘feelings’ were ok, others felt overwhelmed too and that by getting out and about, talking about a bad night and finding others going through the same journey a massive help.
I have to say at this point, I found Fit and Healthy Mums so welcoming and I immersed myself in all the classes and groups on offer. Not only have I met some lifelong friends and have a continual stream of playdates for my now walking toddler. But the exercise and social aspects of the classes with other women was simply amazing. I truly believe that exercise had a positive impact on my postnatal mental health recovery, as well as making up for eating too many biscuits – because we are all human!
Thank you for such an honest account of your maternity leave, it is very humbling to know that we do truly help women in the community. You will all know that exercise is great for your body, but we know now that it has such a positive impact on your mind too:
– Regular exercise is a great way to help manage anxiety, depression and stress.
– Modest amounts of exercise are enough, you don’t need to spend hours in a gym.
-You experience a sense of well-being, achievement, enjoy a better mood and have greater self-esteem.
– Exercise can aid your memory, sleep quality and releases endorphins.
– But most of all, it is fun and we have a chat and a giggle along the way!