During my six weeks with my mum in recovery from a psychotic episode I came to realise that I had been neglecting basic self care strategies since the birth of Master X. By the time I returned to Canberra I had some routine of self care however still required a physical list to ensure that I was meeting all my basic needs. I am back from another stint at mum’s and again require self reminders daily for when I am alone around self care. These are in order of importance!
1. VITAL (daily) – Eat, brush teeth, core exercises and nap
- Oral care – I often (still) get stuck in a cycle and before I know it, it is past lunch time. This list and having ‘eat’ as a priority means that I have a visual reminder to check the time for food consumption. I also forget to brush my teeth (and thanks to my sister, deodorant is synonymous with item now as she pointed out that I smell as I forget to put it on) until the later afternoon or evening when it is time to once again, brush my teeth. Basic, but super vital for helping me feel less shitty.
- Exercises – When I arrived at my mother’s house I still had very weak core muscles. After Master X’s birth I had only one finger of tummy separation, and at four months postpartum it had not improved. My mum (and Dr. google) helped me sort out a routine of exercises that are manageable daily- crunches, sit-ups, cat/cow, heel slides, plank. I also have a series of exercises for my continuing pubic synthesis pain- inner thigh strengthening and forward fold.
- Nap – this is on the top of my list before all other ‘healing’ activities as I can become fixated on other items such as cleaning, sewing, reading to the point of obsession. Cycles regularly occur such ‘must clean all the things’, ‘must know all the information’, ‘must finish all the projects’… Rest is uber important. I downloaded the Mind the Bump app and every rest time, listen to one or more ‘meditations’ depending on how wired I feel. Sometimes my whole rest is listening, but it can be effective in stopping the anxiety train and giving me some space to breathe and recuperate and analyse my thoughts.
2. Walk Punk
My doctor told me early on that research has shown that women who take their baby for a walk every day, even for fifteen minutes, were less likely to develop postnatal depression. Of course I agreed enthusiastically whilst I was pregnant as I assumed that my pubic synthesis pain would quickly dissipate after the birth of our baby.
I did start walking as soon as I could after the birth, however the pain became worse! The thought of walking for PND did not do it for me, so I switched it up to focus on the health of my fur baby (who is now older than I am!). I try my best to practice mindfulness,
feel the sun smell the smells
hear the birds and nature
I essentially practice the five things strategy to ground me and help transition into being present (one of my counsellors taught me this during my antenatal care, but I love the way PND Recovery describes the technique). I feel good if I can walk even just around the small five minute block with Master X and Punk, making sure to stop at every tree so that the dog feels like he has had an epic outing for the day (my husband walks him for longer if I cannot).
3. Fridge list
The fridge list is located on the fridge! (mum joke). This is a list of scheduled house maintenance activities to try and make sure that the house is cleaned some of the time. I would like to be able to say that it is not rigid, but I am pretty set my it otherwise I tend of get obsessed with the cleaning, and it is impossible to complete the house duties to such a high bar as I set that it ends in a depression. That can go on for weeks. Which means no clean clothes, dog hair everywhere… it is pretty gross. So I try to stick to ONE item on the ‘day’ allocation. It seems to be working this first week back at home… tbc
4. Activity List
I created a list of all the things that I enjoy doing so that I can try to avoid being fixate don one activity (kind of how I am with blogging at the moment), and also to choose something potentially out of my regular comfort zone to try and ‘resent me’. The specifics of these activities are for other self care blogs…!