Major changes, even really good ones, are often really unsettling. A new baby is a major change – it alters what you are doing, how you see yourself, what you worry about, and certainly how much sleep you are getting. It’s totally normal not to feel ecstatically happy all the time, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you (although if you feel really low it is definitely good to speak to your GP, midwife, or healthcare visitor about it because they can help).
There are lots of things that we can do that can help boost our chances of feeling happier, and a massive wealth of evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques can help.
One of these strategies simply involves keeping track of our mood, and of small things we are doing each day that help us feel proud and happy. All you need is a notebook or some other way of keeping track – your phone, a computer… Try giving this a go.
Every day write down
Your mood out of ten, where zero is feeling the worst you have felt and ten is the best you have felt. The point of doing this is partly being able to see that your mood will change over the course of a week and it can be reassuring to see that you will feel a seven out of ten again, even if yesterday you felt three out of ten. It also can help us start to spot patterns, like whether you always feel happy on certain days, or when you are doing certain things.
One thing you enjoyed
This can be tiny. It can be the first sip of tea you managed to have without it going cold because you had to change a nappy. It might be the smell of your baby’s head. It might be the feeling of some new hand cream. Nothing is too insignificant. The point of this is it gets us noticing the small stuff, and looking out for the simple pleasures.
One thing you felt you were proud of
This can also be tiny. It can be that you got out of bed even though you felt exhausted. It can be that you managed to have a shower despite all the other demands on you. It can be reminding yourself that you are surviving the challenge of having a small person depending totally on you. This also gets you looking out for the stuff you are managing to do, instead of what we sometimes get caught up in, the stuff we haven’t managed to do.
You might also start noticing simple pleasures and achievements that you can easily do more of.
1. Mood out of ten
2. One thing you enjoyed
3. One thing you felt proud of
Try it for at least a week or so and see how it goes… No beating yourself up if you forget to do it though, just congratulate yourself if you do. If you’re using a notebook then putting it somewhere where you will be able to get to it easily will make it easier to fill in. Let us know how it goes.