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10 Ways to Find Happiness, Success, and Awakening As A Single Parent

10 Ways to Find Happiness, Success, and Awakening As A Single Parent

Life happens.

That’s all too true for single parents.

Most people do not create a family knowing they’ll be raising that family alone.

Furthermore, those who are raising a family alone, for one reason or another, are never fully prepared for the many challenges that come with it.

Being 100% responsible for the lives of children, while tending to their emotional, physical, developmental, and education needs, and while maintaining the duties of a stable household, can be exhausting, tiring, and thankless work.

Sounds pretty dismal, huh?

Are single moms and dads to believe that their lives will be a constant drumbeat of children, bills, household chores to be repeated forever? Will their path in life ever be fulfilling outside the nonstop work train of a single parent?

Of course it will.

My success, happiness, and awakening is not due to my negative thoughts about being a single mom. It’s based on what I do with those thoughts as a single mom. Realizing that helped me curb my negative energy and turn it into something useful.

And so can you!

When you acknowledge the activities you do on a daily basis with and for your family, you’ll realize you have positive, vibrant energy to obtain all the happiness and fulfillment your heart desires.

Let’s explore 10 ways to find your happiness, success, and awakening right now!

Happiness:

Accepting Your Comfort Zone

As single parents, we often feel the need to overcompensate for the obvious: a missing spouse.

We try to make many friends, join friendly groups, try online dating. Over and over again, only to feel like we’re better off with a small social circle.

And maybe that’s because that’s where we’re truly intended to be.

If you find yourself feeling at peace alone or with a small group of trusted friends, don’t question it. Embrace it! And realize there’s nothing wrong with it!

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Accept your comfort zone as just that: your personal space that gives you balance and peace. It keeps you out of questionable situations as well as keeping you level headed as you go about your day balancing home and kids alone.

The faster you accept and love your comfort zone, the more content you may find yourself.

Accepting Your Singlehood

For me, being apart from the father of my children was the best decision for my family.

I did not want my children growing up around fighting, arguing, and disrespect.

While I know we made the right decision to terminate the relationship for our family’s sake, but what about my sake? Am I doomed to singleness forever?

Maybe. And so what if I am?

Being single means you can make your own decisions. You can spend your money how you like without consulting with anyone else, plan the trips you want, and allow your kids to stay up a little later than usual without the opinion of other people.

For me, I was able to take control of financial responsibilities, drastically improve my credit score, and crawl out of debt far better than when I was with someone who didn’t have great money habits.

So, enjoy your singleness and the many freedoms that come with. Do something spontaneous like take a random vacation with the kids (or alone). Leave the dishes dirty for a few more days. Don’t fold a piece of darn laundry till the weekend!

Love your single self while you can!

Embrace Your Appearance

You’re too skinny. Too fat.

Your hair is too kinky. Too tangly.

You’ll come up with any and every excuse as to why you haven’t attracted “the one” yet.

Most of the time; however, it’s not your appearance.

It’s likely how you carry yourself in that appearance.

If you dress for work like you don’t want to be approached by the cute guy in IT or the hot girl in the accounting department, then you won’t be approached.

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But if you dress like you feel positive and wonderful, then positive and wonderful people will take notice.

(And if they’re not so positive and wonderful, hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little flattery!)

The experience of not being ashamed of my hair or body was never something I could explore in some past relationships. But now, I have a very special appreciation of my body that only I understand. And I shouldn’t have to bend on that to find a mate.

Even better: appreciating your body starts with you. You can take that yoga class, cycling course, or kick boxing class knowing you did it to improve YOU for YOU, not for someone else.

Apply Laser Focus to Your Career

Let’s face it.

Most of us don’t like our jobs.

Many feel overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.

But as a single parent, you try to be extra careful of what you do at work. You getting canned could mean doom for your family.

So, instead of secretly hating your job, embrace it. Be thankful for it. Be thankful for the fact that you can provide for your family on your own.

And learn to put more focus into what you like about your job. Love technical writing? Be the go-to person for desk guide creation. Good at number crunching? Become an expert with Microsoft Excel.

Even with tasks or aspects of your job that you don’t love so much, learn to embrace them, but not overly focus on them. Got toxic co-workers? Acknowledge them but don’t entertain them. Your boss is a world class jerk? Figure out what makes them tick and do the opposite. If they decide to be a jerk about everything, tune them out by focusing on new skills for a better job.

You can also utilize your career laser focus off the job too. Learn a new language part time online or at an inexpensive community college. Try your hand at coding for free on the internet. Enroll in that project management course you’ve been putting off for years.

You may find yourself far more successful at your job (or a better job) by simply embracing it more effectively.

Success:

Give Your Passion Laser Focus

Always wanted to sharpen your freelance writer skills?

What ever happened to that website design business you started in college?

As a single parent, you have more time than you realize.

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Even in doing chores and watching the kids during soccer games, you’re thinking about how best to make your life better.

Why not give that passion of yours more focus?

Pay for a finances class to be a better freelance writer so you can start earning side income for your family. Sign up for that entrepreneur course at the community center. With only one person handling the finances, you don’t have to justify investing into your passion to improve your life.

Give Yourself A Book

Sure, you’re a pretty bright solo mom or dad.

But, you can afford to be smarter. Heck, we all can.

If there’s something you’ve been wanting to dabble in (i.e. investing, person finance, gardening, hiking, cooking), read up on it.

They don’t say reading is fundamental for nothing! Being your own teacher is one of the best ways to learn something new. You’re acquiring new information theoretically and organically through your own thought processes and comprehension.

No standardized tests or quizzes necessary!

Reading interesting topics is exercise for the brain, helps you de-stress, and if you’re like me and tend to read around your children a lot, it could help them develop better reading habits as well.

Awakening:

Stop Apologizing

A lot of times, single parents tend to always assume they’ve done something wrong.

They question themselves, their decisions, and their actions a lot because they don’t have another inquisitive adult in the house.

But there comes a point when you simply have to stop apologizing for everything.

Being in constant regret of your decisions could bring about all kinds of unstable feelings. Don’t do it to yourself!

Say what you mean and mean what you say more often. Stand your ground for once and don’t feel the need take anything back.

Furthermore, standing up for what you think and feel builds confidence and inner strength. You may find yourself standing up a little more at work against aggressive coworkers.

Not apologizing doesn’t mean you’ve turned into an insensitive jerk. It just means you stand by what you believe in.

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As the old saying goes:

“Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

Stop Caring…About The Wrong Things

As a writer, I oftentimes receive commentary containing strong opinions!

With some of them I read and reply to them. Others that are filled with inflated insults and disrespect, I simply don’t care to engage with further.

When you stop caring about others’ opinions about you, your craft, your family, or your life, you really begin to live. Living for the approval of others is a quick path to unhappiness.

When you march to the beat of your own drum, the other music kinda dies out in your ears.

What your parents, friends, neighbors, or teachers think about your life becomes a non-issue because you no longer care to give them the energy.

Stop worrying about things you don’t have no control of. For me, I use to stress out about my student loans like it was a terminal disease! When I realized there’s nothing I could do about them but, well, pay them off as best as I could, I seriously stopped caring about it! Giving it more worry than necessary would have sent me to an early demise much faster than raising rowdy kids alone!

Stop Being Ashamed of Your Feelings

Most people do not want their rawest emotions to be felt.

Well, if that becomes a chronic pattern it can easily build up into depression and anxiety in the long run.

Let your feelings be known. If you’re dealing with a stressful working environment, let it be known. In a respectable but direct manner, bring up legitimate concerns of the growing stress you’re feeling at work. You, like everyone else, has a right to a stable and welcoming working environment.

And that’s nothing to be ashamed about.

If you’re stressed out at home, let it be known. Inform your kids of what is really making you sick (stress can lead to serious illnesses) at home and tell them you need their help to cope. Make them do more chores. Demand more respect from them even if it means applying some tough love. If you need to take a vacation without them, do it and don’t be sorry for it!

If you’re in a relationship, allow your feelings to be heard. Tell your significant other what bothers you, regardless how silly he or she may think they are. If they choose not to show respect, that’s a good thing. You now know what direction you should take your relationship.

And that’s nothing to be ashamed about either.

So get out there and start living your life as a more happy, successful, and awakened single parent!

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Published on November 30, 2018

Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Low libido
  • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
  • Poor self-care
  • Social withdrawal
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
  • Lack of concentration and poor memory
  • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
  • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

Causes of Post Natal Depression

It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

  • Prenatal depression or anxiety
  • A personal or family history of depression
  • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
  • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
  • Maternity blues
  • Birth-related psychological trauma
  • Birth-related physical trauma
  • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
  • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Low self-esteem
  • Childcare or life stress
  • Low social support
  • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Infant temperament problems/colic
  • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
  • Elevated prolactin levels
  • Oxytocin depletion

One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

1. Seek Medical Help

As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

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If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

2. Therapy

This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

3. Medication

There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

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4. Communication with Partner

Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

5. Self Care and Rest

Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

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It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

7. Movement

Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

8. Socializing and Support Groups

Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

9. Accept Help

Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

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Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

Final Thoughts

Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

Reference

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