The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day. This year, the campaign in Australia invites people to make (and share) a mental health promise. Inspired by one of the many prompts shared in the campaign, my mental health promise is to share ideas about mental well-being. With that in mind, here are a few ideas of how to support your mental health during a separation.
1. Seek professional help. It is a common, but misplaced fear that seeking professional help for a mental health issue following a separation will have a negative impact on your case and for that reason, you shouldn’t do it. Recognizing you need professional help and taking steps to get that help is a strong, brave and responsible step to take, for you and your family. It demonstrates self-awareness and a proactive approach to challenges. There is a lot help available. Your GP can be a good starting place, to discuss options, including a Mental Health Treatment Plan. Ask in your network for recommendations of counsellors or psychologists. For emergency support, Lifeline offers free 24 hour telephone crisis support.
2. Be honest with close friends and family. If someone asks how you are, be honest when you respond. You might feel embarrassed to share how you are feeling, or guilty about burdening those around you, but the people who love and care for you will want to support you given the opportunity. Let them.
3. Make time for exercise. It may be the last thing you feel like doing or the last thing you feel you have time for, but even a short walk with the kids around the block or doing some yoga at home once they are in bed (or with your kids - try Cosmic Kids Yoga) might make a real difference to how you are feeling.
4. Be mindful of what you are eating and drinking. If, in times of stress, you tend to binge on sweet treats, stop eating altogether or drink too much alcohol, recognise your pattern, be mindful of what you consume and consider substituting a healthier habit.
5. Get enough sleep. Most mums have lived through periods of sleep deprivation and know first-hand the impact it can have on mental health. After the kids go to sleep might be the only me-time you have (or time for work) but consistently late nights and early mornings aren’t sustainable. If you have trouble getting to sleep some ideas to consider are trying to avoid caffeine after 3:00 pm, limiting blue light from devices, trying a bedtime meditation (like this Peaceful Sleep meditation by Kate James) or using essential oils or magnesium to aid restful sleep.