(If this post seems a little backwards, it’s because I wrote it in late June, when I was still pregnant.)
I’ve been in a funk for a few days.
Some of this could be normal, very-very pregnant lady stuff. At 35 weeks, what pregnant woman doesn’t feel like a caricature? It’s 100 degrees out. I’m hot, fat, bloated, sore, tired and eager to not be pregnant anymore. A lot of my mood could be attributed to the unrelenting nausea I’m feeling, the fatigue, and general unease. It could be due to normal inflammation that occurs in pregnant women. (An expert I interviewed on the topic of pregnancy depression discussed this, fascinating stuff.)
Regardless, I’ve found that no matter what may have triggered the blues, it’s usually exacerbated by my falling behind on some good habits I’ve developed through the years to keep myself in a positive mood.
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
- John Lennon
I agree with John. Happiness is important.
Far from being selfish, it’s well worth pursuing. As I’ve talked about in the past, happiness sets a good example for our children. We’re more effective as parents when we feel happy, and we do our marriage mates a favor when we’re in a better mood too. We’re not a whole lot of good to the world when we’re feeling funky.
So when I’ve slipped into a bad mood that lasts more than a day or two, I find it helpful to mentally run through a sort of “good mood checklist”. And invariably, I find that I’ve lapsed in one or more of these areas. Here’s my personal feel good checklist:
- Have I been exercising daily? For me, skipping my daily walk just one or two days a week will have an impact on my mood. I just came in from my walk, and I’m feeling better already.
- Am I getting enough daily sunshine? Vitamin D levels impact our mood and health, but especially for people who are sensitive to light as much as myself, getting enough natural light is imperative. As I write this, temps are 100 here. I’ve been staying inside more in the cool of the air conditioner. Bad idea for me.
- Am I taking my fish oil? Uh-oh. Fish oil has been shown to help stabilize mood. But when I’m pregnant, I tend to slack in the supplements department due to nausea and a strong oral aversion. I took a spoonful of a fermented cod liver and butter oil blend this morning. To my surprise, it wasn’t as unpleasant as I had heard about (this was a new, unopened bottle). And I didn’t burp fish all day either.
- Am I getting enough sleep? Definitely a challenge when you’re 9 months pregnant. My sleep has been interrupted a lot lately due to getting up often to pee at night, trying to find a comfortable position, crazy vivid dreams, and the usual pregnancy suspects. Sometimes taking a quick nap can reset my clock and I’ll feel better immediately.
- Have I neglected my social life? I can’t really blame this, because I’ve been out a couple of times in the last two weeks with a friend, and my mom visited recently too.
- Am I feeling unproductive? Do I need a challenge? For me personally, I find that feeling low is often more about doing too little than doing too much (and needing a break). Activity makes me feel good about myself. A rolling stone gathers no moss, as they say. Boredom is a trigger for low mood. Sometimes the answer to happiness is requiring more of yourself.
These are the biggies for me.
Today I was determined not to feel sad despite feeling awful. So I just focused on tackling The Next Thing on my to-do list. I played with Ruby, took my supplements, went for a walk outside with the kids, and had a nap. I set Pandora to the “Hole” station. (Listening to music you like always helps with mood.) I wrote this blog post. I cleaned out a kitchen drawer (decluttering is a huge mood booster for me). I prayed for Joy. Etc.
What’s on your Good Mood Checklist?