PARENT’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA, GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
> Be brave and unfollow or unfriend: The simple step of hitting the unfollow button on a ‘friend’s’ Instagram or Facebook account can really help release the pressure and instil a sense of calm. Likewise, unfollowing celebrity mums or ‘Insta-mums’ will instantly remove comparisons with their unique and often unattainable lifestyles.
> If you want to spend time online, use apps and websites that will help you as a parent: Apps such as “Mush” (www. letsmush.com) help mums connect with other local mums; here you can share the ups and downs of parenting and avoid being isolated.
> Remain ‘guilt-free’ and always remember your
‘me time’: Having some ‘me time’ is a necessity to surviving the day-today life as a mum.
Just 15-20 mins to unwind every day can have significant emotional benefits. > Be prepared: It’s important for pregnant women and new mums to treat their mental health with as much care as they do for their physical health.
If you’ve had mental health problems previously, or if you have current symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They will know what help and support there is in your area. Getting help early on means you have a chance to prevent illness, or at least to have treatment early before problems become too serious.
> Get enough sleep: Quality sleep can be a real problem when you have a newborn to attend to, but not getting enough can seriously exacerbate mental ill health. When the baby naps, forget about the washing-up, dirty nappies, etc — they can all wait. Grab a 10-15-minute power nap at the same time. You will feel so much better for it. > Accept offers of help: Don’t struggle in silence and be afraid of relying on others.
Ask for help from family and friends, whether it’s to cook dinner or look after the children while you go for a lie-down — most will only be too happy to help.
> Chat it out: It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re home with a baby all day, so make sure you stay engaged with the people in your life, preferably face-to-face and not online. Talking about your day, your feelings, or even your favourite TV show with a partner or friend can have a positive effect on your emotional well-being.
> Ride the emotional roller coaster: Emotional ups and downs are normal. But a ride that only goes down is broken. Get help if you’re not bonding; if you start to have negative thoughts about the baby or yourself; or if you experience severe mood swings for more than a couple of weeks.