It was the Fall of 2005, when I was four months postpartum with my now 11-year-old son that I was brought to my knees with the dark days of winter and the biggest struggle of my life, postpartum depression (PPD).
The days began to feel longer and more daunting as I crept into a depression due to imbalanced hormones; this phase of my life was filled with stress, panic and anxiety about how I would function each and every day as a new mum-it was a lonely and desperate place.
Being a new mother felt like Groundhog Day; each morning I would awake to the same fears and inner turmoil, mostly about how I would make it through the day in my new role as Kylan's mum. My coping skills seemed to be at a deficit.
Here is Vancouver, B.C., it doesn't help that fall and winter, particularly November/December, is traditionally gloomy, wet and dark. Sometimes we go weeks without sunlight, which makes for vitamin D deficiency in its most accelerated form.
We have the solutions. We are not in this alone and I am so vehement about sharing with you, for we no longer have to suffer with PPD in silence and without some mad tools.
There are solutions, glorious solutions. This may seem like another list you have to accomplish (I can see you flipping me the bird), but we can do it together, just one tip at a time, one breath, one stretch towards daylight.
I cannot wait to share those tips with you because they made a significant difference in my ability to move through the winter and depression with more foundation and a feeling of empowered choices, even when brushing my teeth seemed like an arduous task.
The result will be a healthier more grounded you -- mentally, physically and emotionally.
Top 8 Best Solutions To The Winter Solstice Baby Blues
Vitamin D3 - vitamin D has often been called the sunshine supplement. Research has shown that vitamin D can play an important role in regulating mood and chasing away depression. In a 2008 Journal of Internal Medicine study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed a distinct difference in their moods.
Exercise - move your beautiful bod: a daily 20 minute walk around the block with your baby can make a huge difference to the way you feel. Simply by increasing your heart rate, generating endorphins and breathing in fresh air, you can alleviate symptoms of depression. You can also join a Bootcamp for new mums, or a yoga class that you can bring your baby to and be in community with other new mothers facing this collective experience.
Self care - self love equals gentleness: a massage once a week can really help support your adrenal function. If a massage is not possible, then a bath with epsom salts, getting your toe nails done and some restorative yoga poses at home with yoga props can all be done with your new baby, or better yet take an hour for yourself without baby. It's possible.
Sunshine foods - eat the sun, eat it up: a combination of vitamin C, calcium and iron rich foods will support your body in protein synthesis and help to cure the blues. Foods like red peppers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and dark leafy greens have more vitamin C than oranges and grapefruits. Make a gorgeous salad that you can much over a couple of days for simplicity sake.
Omega 3s - hormone support: essential fatty acids like flax oil are a great addition to your morning smoothie. We need to get ALA from food. The body can make DHA and EPA by converting the ALA, so getting some ALA daily is really important. Flax oil has the highest amount of ALA from plant based foods (you must keep it in a dark place refrigerated to keep it from going rancid). Salmon is an alternative and also a great option.
Increase protein - build foundation: maintaining stable blood glucose levels can really help with your mood swings. Ensuring that you have a palm size amount of protein with every meal you eat is a "sure fire" way to maintain stable blood sugars. Foods like nuts, seeds, tempeh, eggs, fish, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables are great vegetarian options. If you eat meat then I recommend lots of wild salmon and halibut, some organic bone broth, a little organic lean red meat and chicken.
Fewer processed carbohydrates - eat way less junk: eliminate all the white foods: potatoes, rice, bread, sugar. It's that easy (see: NBD). Instead try brown rice, black rice, quinoa, whole grain breads, coconut sugar or maple syrup to sweeten and don't fill up on carbs will dramatically support the blues. Vegetables should comprise at least half of your plate.
BONUS TIP: It is really important not to deny yourself everything during this time in your life. Rasa (the sweetness of life) is very important for women. I highly endorse a few pieces of raw dark chocolate daily, as a meditation, to release dopamine and support magnesium levels. This is my fav chocolate, (eat some ery darn day).
My favourite thing is to demand you eat more chocolate, p.s.
If you find yourself in the middle of winter with the baby blues and have tried these solutions with little or no results, please reach out to an organization in your area that supports women and their journey through PPD. There are so many other women struggling with this intricate transition, you don't have to go it alone.
We are in this mother gig together, please reach out.
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On how motherhood changes you. “[Motherhood] is hard but it's phenomenal. It's the greatest thing I ever did. He makes me be a dickhead, and he makes me feel young, and there's nothing more grounding than a kid kicking off and refusing to do what you're asking of them. It used to be that my own world revolved around me, but now it has to revolve around him.”
On setting a good example for your kids. “For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams.”
On the idea of being a perfect mother. “The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly – indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection.”
On mastering work-life balance. “I have so much admiration for women who are mothers, who balance family and work. I see them and I have this word in my head — respect. I also look to learn. I see these women and I think, ‘Yes, it can be balanced, it can all work out.’”
On remembering you are not alone. “Motherhood has taught me to be more connected to other human beings. All mothers everywhere, we are all responsible for each other. We’re not different, but rather more similar than you think– so if you’re fighting a battle alone, choose not to fight it alone.”
On taking care of yourself. “You always have to remember to take care of you first and foremost. Because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others.”
On love. “Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark… to have been loved so deeply... will give us some protection forever.”
On finding strength through loss. “I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug.”
On the joys of motherhood. “I see myself as mom first. I’m so lucky to have that role in life. The world can like me, hate me or fall apart around me and at least I wake up with my kids and I’m happy.”
On respecting fellow moms. “There is an unspoken pact that women are supposed to follow. I am supposed to act like I constantly feel guilty about being away from my kids. (I don't. I love my job.) Mothers who stay at home are supposed to pretend they are bored and wish they were doing more corporate things. (They don't. They love their job.)”
On the power of hugs. “Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.”
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