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I had a dental appointment last Saturday and as par for the course, the hygienist (a local mom my age) asked me if I was on any medications. I told her I was on Zoloft. She smiled and said “oh, after becoming a mom, right?” I explained that I’d suffered from anxiety since high school and had been on it for many years, but that #momlife definitely wasn’t making things easier. She laughed and said something like “oh, well most moms take something.”
Motherhood is basically a state of constant worry and moms are a demographic of people who are likely to be more stressed than the average person. While we live in an age where medication is usually the go-to treatment for many problems, I’ve done enough research to know that it isn’t the only (or oftentimes, best) solution. There are always other alternatives to explore or to use in conjunction with meds to help lessen symptoms. I know I’m not alone in suffering from panic attacks and anxiety, especially postpartum, so I wanted to share some products that have helped me as well as friends I know with similar issues.
Weighted blankets are known to help with anxiety, sleep disorders and ADHD, and can help you get a better night’s rest. By using “pressure therapy”, the heaviness of a weighted blanket provides pressure that can lessen your fight-or-flight response, calm your heart rate and breathing, and encourage you to relax. They are also known to help children, especially those who suffer from ADHD or have autism, since they help prevent over-stimulation and promote relaxation and calm. They even sell licensed ones with their favorite characters (Paw Patrol and Frozen!). My only gripe about weighted blankets is that they are expensive! They range from the high end (think: the brand Kourtney Kardashian uses) to the slightly less expensive. Overall, they are worth the investment if you (or your children) are struggling with sleep issues stemming from anxiety.
Himalayan salt lampsare decorative light fixtures carved out of pink Himalayan salt and thought to have a number of health benefits. Aside from looking pretty and emitting a warm, cozy glow, they are supposed to help with anxiety, allergies, mood, sleep disorders and air purity. Salt lamps are beneficial (similar to salt caves and halotherapy) because they are “natural ionizers,” meaning they change the electrical charge of the circulating air. While there haven’t been enough (or really any…) studies yet to prove the rather ambitious claims that lamp advocates are making, they definitely can’t hurt! If there’s a chance that an inexpensive (and pretty) salt lamp is going to improve your life even in the slightest (or have a placebo effect), my gut says to try it out! Are salt lamps going to cure you of an anxiety disorder? No. But they are dim and cozy, and will definitely make your room feel homier and more relaxing than a bright lamp or high hats will, and that alone could promote a calmer ambiance and better sleep.
Keeping a gratitude journal can help relieve stress and encourage feelings of contentment, satisfaction, and joy. Research has shown that the act of journaling is a known stress reducer. Reflecting on small parts of your day that brought you joy will only make you feel good inside. As moms, sometimes it feels like we’re just trying to get through the day as quickly and painlessly as possible. Forcing yourself to take a moment to actively think about the good will help you feel more centered and grounded, and less like you’re flying through this period in your life by the seat of your (spit up covered) pants! A great journal to check out is Present, Not Perfect: A Journal for Slowing Down, Letting Go, and Loving Who You Are. I also highly recommend Q&A A Day, which asks you a simple, random question every day, 365 days a year for five years. It’s more of a keepsake than a traditional gratitude journal, but I’ve found it very relaxing to fill out and fun to look back and get lost in previous year’s responses. There’s even a version specifically for moms! And if you really are not the journaling type, there is always adult coloring books!
Sun Lamp – Especially helpful for people who live in darker (anyone from Alaska?) or colder climates, a sun lamp mimics natural sunlight and is known to improve mood and decrease depression and anxiety, especially in those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Tea– Peppermint, chamomile, kava and valerian are best for anxiety. Lemon balm, passion flower and green tea get honorable mentions.
What products do you use to help keep your anxiety and stress under control? Do you use any of the above, and if so, what are your thoughts on them? Comment and let us know!