5 Easy Mental Health Wellness Tools for Single Mothers
Being a single mum is a challenging responsibility. One that comes with several challenges like financial burdens, challenging work and childcare balance, isolation, lack of support and guilt. When these pressures mount, they can lead to depression and anxiety. If not addressed, these mental health issues can worsen and even lead to substance abuse or suicidal thoughts.
What is Mental Health, and Why is it Important?
Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being contributes to our mental health. It has an impact on how we think, feel, and act. It also influences how we deal with stress, interact with people, and make decisions. Mental health is essential throughout life, from childhood to maturity. For example, it affects how we interact with others and perform at home, work or school.
Through positive mental health, single mothers can achieve their full potential, manage life’s stresses, perform well at work, and make meaningful community contributions.
One or more of the following feelings or actions can be an early indicator of poor mental health; Eating or sleeping excessively or insufficiently, withdrawing from others and routine tasks. Having little or no energy, feeling numb, or as though nothing matters.
Some mothers may have unexplainable aches and pains or extreme mood fluctuations. These can result in issues in relationships, such as excessive arguments with family and friends. Some may feel confused, forgetful, agitated, anxious, or afraid or think about hurting themselves or others.
Indulging in excessive smoking, drinking, or drug use is an indicator and a hindrance to accomplishing daily duties such as caring for children or getting to work or school.
If you can relate to any of the above, don’t despair, as it is possible to improve and maintain your mental health while raising children as a single mum. Here are some very actionable tips to help you do just that:
Create a routine
A daily routine is beneficial not only for your child but also for you. Especially if you timeshare with your ex. The change over crates unsettling disruption that can lead to meltdowns, anxiety and an increased need for you to draw on your ability to remain grounded and calm.
Creating a daily routine may seem trivial, but it is very advantageous. Having a planner allows you to schedule all your house management responsibilities and your child’s activities. This reduces stress levels, especially if something comes up out of the blue. It also shows you at a glance where you can afford to invest some time in your self-care. Here is a link to some fantastic planners you might find helpful.
I’m sure you are not a stranger to the concept of self-care. If you are anything like me or a myriad of other single mothers out there, you most likely experience some level of guilt over spending time on yourself. However, including such time in your weekly schedule allows your physical, mental, and emotional needs to be met. This, in turn, helps you to be your child’s best parent.
Yes, you are single and most likely the only one responsible for everything. Still, you are also a woman with needs that, when not met, will hinder everything you wish to accomplish. In addition, you are a teacher who predominantly teaches by example. Setting boundaries with your children teaches them to take care of themselves. If you are still concerned, ensure you communicate to your child how much they are loved. Acknowledge your child’s feelings and assure them of their value.
Lastly, having an organised routine will allow for adequate rest. I cannot stress enough how essential sleep is to maintaining a healthy mind. A rested mother is a resilient mother. A regular seven to eight hours of sleep, with a bedtime well before midnight, will eliminate the chances of your meltdowns. As well as decrease the likelihood of more serious issues like depression and emotional deregulation from occurring.
Move your body for Mental Health.
Ok, so if you know me personally, you would know that getting me to exercise is as much fun as washing a cat. Painful for all involved and topped with a lot of hissing. Thus I regret to say that exercise is a great way to keep our body healthy and our mind sharp. However, it has been scientifically proven that exercising for at least 20 minutes a day can help improve your mental health. This is why I regularly torture myself and strongly advocate for this torture.
Of course, if you are one of those mums who bounce out of bed in the morning into a gym or for a run (I envy you with a passion), you do not need convincing of the benefits of exercise. The improved mood, increased energy levels, better concentration and focus, reduced stress levels and enhanced sleep quality all lead to decreased stress, overwhelm anxiety and depression. Who would have thought?!
It is just too good for you and your mental health to put it in the too-hard basket. So if you struggle like me, start small. Go for walks, choose times that suit your family best and are not too hot or cold. If you have little ones, take them with you in a pram. Walk your kids to school if you can. Park a block away from work and walk the rest. Take stairs, and do some stretching, like yoga. Join a local class just for women. Quash the excuses that stop you.
Your attitude to exercise and your fitness level will change slowly. With small increments in difficulty, you will trick your mind and body into convincing yourself that it is indeed possible to establish a healthy exercise routine. As the good old cringe-worthy Pantene slogan goes, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.” You will reap the rewards.
As a Single Mama Way member, you can access free journals to help you on this journey. So go on and click the link to join. It’s free and super worth it!
Choose a Relaxation Technique
It is important to remember that life is not perfect, and there will always be stressful situations. But with the proper relaxation techniques, we can reduce the adverse effects of stress on our health and happiness. Many relaxation techniques can help you find relief from the stress of single motherhood.
The best way to reap the benefits is by finding what works for you and practising it regularly. Some common relaxation techniques are meditation, yoga, walking in nature, reading a book or taking a hot bath. These might be easier to slot into your off week if you timeshare with your ex or when your kids are at school.
What about relaxing when you have your children 100% of the time? What if they are too young to send to school? Meaning that from morning till night, you answer to “Mum, mum, mummy, mama!” Hardly relaxing, I feel you. It’s much harder to chill, especially when even your toilet time is often crowded.
It might surprise you, but with a bit of ingenuity, you can work some relaxation time into your daily schedule. Kid’s playtime is one such time when your mind can meander. When your kids are small, it’s easy to pretend you play while you attend deep breathing exercises or let your mind drift into a daydream.
Of course, I do not advocate you ignore or not meaningfully engage with your kids. Yet, there will be moments when you can be physically present to ensure safety and allow yourself some mental breathing room. For example, reading books to your children is also a calming activity from which you will both reap the rewards. Or five minutes stolen out of chore time while they go down for their day’s sleep can be just the recharge the mind needs.
As with physical activity, the regularity, not the intensity or length of the exercises, will make a difference to your mental health over time. Check out “Project Me for Busy Mothers” by Kelly Pietrangeli for more ideas.
Seek professional help
It is essential for single mums to reach out to supportive people who understand their situation and seek assistance for their emotional well-being before it spirals out of control. Taking the time to strengthen your mental health is essential in moving from merely surviving to thriving.
A therapist will help you understand what’s happening inside your head and teach you how to deal with it. Therapy can help you learn new skills, develop healthier relationships, and improve your self-esteem. It can even help you overcome some of the issues that led to your depression or anxiety in the first place.
While various services are available, some of the best options are those specialising in helping specific demographics, such as counselling for single mothers. This allows you to make the most of your limited resources and quickly gets you the most focused help.
Here at Single Mama Way, we are single mothers dealing only with single mothers. Counselling through single mum-specific issues, most of which we have lived and experienced ourselves. This is the Single Mama Way difference. No referral is required, and you do not have to leave your home. Pretty nifty, hey?
If you need support or know someone who does, book some time through this link. Single Mama Way does not charge for the 1st introductory consult.
Find your tribe
It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Develop a support system. Having people around who will listen and understand, offer advice and help you out can make all the difference in the world when you’re raising kids on your own.
I hear you all collectively sigh, voicing excuses like, “but I don’t know anyone”, “there is nothing in my area that I can tap into”, or the ever-faithful “I don’t have the time!” I feel so strongly about this matter that I have decided to dedicate an entire article to this topic, but for now, check out these two books;
“Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World” by Jennie Allen, the international bestseller, draws on fascinating insights from science and history, timeless biblical truth, and vulnerable stories from her own life to help you.
And “Find Your Tribe and Break Bread: An Interactive Guide to finding yourself and the people you need in your life.” by Latasha Weatherspoon. By the time you finish reading this book, you will understand who you are, your purpose in life, how to reflect your best self onto those around you, and how to use your magic to transform the world.
These will highlight the importance of having a tribe and give tips on finding it. Coming from an introvert like me, you know this practice must be beneficial.
Most importantly, do not lose hope; do not be scared to seek help; even on your darkest days, know that you are not alone!