From the Hip: Hip Mom’s 7 Ways to Beat the Blues
Recently, I’ve had a couple of miscarriages, and these little mishaps have been leaving me feeling a bit sad and bereft at times. Now, I realize a miscarriage – for a woman with six healthy kids, a hunky husband and health insurance – is hardly a dew drop in the great big ocean of grief. But as a wise friend told me, you can’t tell yourself how to feel! (Believe me – I’ve tried!) Maybe you, too, have been feeling a bit low. Maybe you have a sick friend; maybe you are going through some health issues yourself; or some financial difficulty; or maybe you simply cannot fathom getting up yet again to face the coffee/carpools/cocktails/repeat cycle! Now, of course, I’m just a mom, so if you are facing the big guns – serious health issues, job loss, marital malaise, the loss of a relative or a even a child – you need a great support system of family and friends, perhaps some spiritual support, and if the cloud does not lift, perhaps some professional and medical intervention. But if you sense you are just a wee bit despondent, here are a few totally frivolous and silly ways to shine a little more light on your day that don’t involve vodka at 10 a.m., or binge shopping your way up to a four-figure bill, or flirting with that guy at Crossfit (OK, that’s probably fine in moderation!).
In totally random order:
1. Get Away
Get away if at all possible – for a whole lovely week if you can manage, but even a quick weekend will do. Preferably schlep up to Colorado! Something about a change of scenery is like a saving hand reaching down into the solipsistic hole of primordial muck we can stew in when we’re sad. Luckily for me, my family had an epic driving trip to Colorado planned anyway. Just spending time with all these precious people – even though we were all sardined together and the baby kept puking on the curving, windy mountain roads – is hugely therapeutic. There is so much life here, so much life out there! And something about the Colorado mountains makes me feel very close to the divine. The mountain scenery is breathtaking. A little morning jog at sunrise up a wildflower-strewn mountain trail, a late night on a balcony surveying the summer thunderstorms over the mountains – gah. It makes my little sadness feel eminently manageable in the face of such brash, wild beauty.
2. Make Time for Friends
It’s such a cliche, but make some time and room for your dear friends. We all get so busy with the kids and the crumbs and the carpools that we forget how therapeutic a session with a girlfriend can be; after all, the men in our lives can only take so much of our internal ditherings. Only a good girlfriend can ask you the right questions. Only a good girlfriend can make you laugh and cry within minutes. When you are feeling low, there is nothing more comforting than remembering that you are not alone, and that even outside your little nuclear bunch, you are loved. A bonus? Hearing about what’s going on in other people’s lives – the good, the bad, the downright yucky – can make you re-evaluate your own problems and be glad you’ve got your own.
3. Get a facial!
You get to lie down and have someone pamper your skin – it will need some brightening and exfoliating to scrub away all the sighs, frowns and tears. Sometimes lying in a dark room with your sad thoughts can make you glad to emerge into the sunlight again.
4. And, get a little bit of exercise.
Not to lose weight, or whittle your thighs, or perfect your perfect bum. No! These are all really lousy reasons to exercise when you’re mentally fragile. Exercise because it’s so wonderful to have a body that works. Sometimes it feels good to lose yourself in sweat. Ewww, but true.
5. Stay away from superficial things, people or places that will bring you down.
I tend to read a lot of blogs with big, beautiful families who homeschool and eat organic food and sing hymns every night….ugh. No family is perfect, but a lot of these blogs make me feel rather deflated and like my own efforts at motherhood are paltry and pathetic in comparison. Of course, this isn’t true, but when I’m feeling low already, it’s like I’m kicking my very own self when I’m down! I have a dear friend who is the most lovingly, devoted mother of two daughters – who also kicks arse in the kitchen – and she totally eschews Facebook for fear that it will erode her confidence in her own mothering. I think she is RIGHT! Get off that competitive mom track, girls!
6. Subscription Boxes
Sometimes the material delights of this world help to pull you back into it. I discover from a blogger friend the website PopSugar. It is an addictive potpourri of celebrity gossip, gorgeous pictures and silly pop stories. Try not to linger too long if you have a major laundry backup, but there is this wonderful little treasure trove called the PopSugar “Must Have” Box. It is a monthly subscription wherein the PopSugar fashion/lifestyle/beauty/allthingsgirlie guru, Lisa Sugar, curates a selection of products in beauty, fashion, fitness, food and home. It is $39.95 per month, and fortuitously my first box comes the day I have my D&C. Oh, sad, but just a little bit happier day.
I find that I feel a bit better about life in general (OK, OK, those magic feel-good painkillers probably help too). There are all sorts of seasonally perfect things in my box: I get a Michael Starr beach hat, some adorable chevron salad servers, Sun Bum sunscreen and cool down lotions, a TKO Jump Rope with extra comfy handles, some excellent mascara, coconut chips from the “dang” food company, and party straws from Acme Party Company. So much swag! My next box also has a wonderful assortment: aroma-rich shower gel, a necklace from Kendra Scott, gourmet cookie mix….it is such a delight to receive this manna from girl heaven. And while retail therapy can only go so far, it’s the element of surprise and careful selection that remind me how much fun is still to be had.
7. And finally, just be kind to yourself.
Yes, we mamas are called upon to be superhuman sometimes, but in the end we are, after all, just human. Give yourself some time to cry a little, and don’t feel like you’re being inefficient by having feelings that need tending.
And if none of these silly suggestions work? Go talk to your doctor. Get some help. Because those little kids and big kids need their happy mama.