Meeting Physical and Mental Health Goals Should be Top Priority

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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While it might seem like a lot of work at the start, taking care of your health is one of the most important things you can do. Making sure your body is well-nourished and cared for physically sets you up for all-around success since it provides you with more energy and better mental stability, plus it helps prevent illness and disease in the long run. 

Setting health goals for 2021

Last year was an odd combination of being hyper-focused on health, while at the same time not living to the best of our abilities because of quarantining and stay-at-home orders. No one is blaming anyone for that, but it’s time to make up for the lost time.

When setting health goals for yourself, you’ll want to make sure your short-term health goals line up with your long-term health goals, and that your goals are specific. While it’s great to want to “eat better,” it can be hard to meet such a vague goal. What does eating better look like? Is it cutting your sugar intake by half? Is it making sure at least one-quarter of the food on your plate is vegetables? Is it eliminating carbs? No matter what health goal you set, make sure it’s specific and measurable so you know how to meet it and whether or not you are meeting it.

Healthy ways to start

Only you know exactly what you need in terms of making the best decisions for your health, but these examples can give you some idea of where to begin. 

  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep

No more of this five, maybe six hours of sleep thing. It’s bad for your body and bad for your mind. National Sleep Foundation Guidelines state that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to give their bodies time to recharge. Plus, it’s the time when your body’s systems go to work. Ever wonder why, when you’re constantly exhausted, you also find yourself frequently battling illness? When you don’t sleep enough, your immune system isn’t given the time or strength to fight infection – so less sleep means you’re more prone to infection.

  1. Exercise for 30 minutes

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Especially if you work a desk job, you need to be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day. It keeps your blood flowing and transporting oxygen properly throughout your body, works your muscles and joints, clears your mind, can get you out of the house and produces mood-boosting endorphins. The list of why you need to move your body can go on forever, but the main point is, your mental and physical health depends on it.

  1. Eat breakfast every morning

Skipping breakfast is an unfortunate way to start the day because eating in the morning gives you the energy your body needs to carry out the day’s requirements, and it starts your body’s metabolism first thing. This can actually lead to benefits in weight management, including weight loss. When you eat breakfast, you’re less likely to overeat later on and you’ll receive important vitamins and nutrients from meal choices like fruit, yogurt and eggs.

  1. Drink enough water for your body

If you’re thirsty, you’re not drinking enough. It’s important to be drinking water constantly throughout the day, as the fluids help remove toxins from the body, carry nutrients where they need to go, help regulate body temperature, normalize your blood pressure and more. It’s recommended for men to drink 101 ounces of water and women 74 ounces of water per day. Buying a water bottle with a specific number of ounces is an effective and easy way of keeping track of how much water you have left to drink in a day. 

  1. Reduce your inflammatory food intake

Inflammation in the body leads to all sorts of aches, pains and an overall feeling of unwellness. It can be the cause of sore muscles and joints, an upset stomach and even red, broken-out skin. By eliminating inflammatory ingredients – added sugar, red meats, mayonnaise, bread and highly processed foods – you can reduce inflammation in the body and feel good about the better foods you’re eating instead.

  1. Read one book every month

If you have a goal to reach, you’ll take the steps to meet that goal. If you’re reading a book a month, you’ll begin eliminating unproductive tasks in order to take the time to read. This might mean spending less time mindlessly scrolling social media or choosing to start or end your day with 30 minutes of reading instead of watching the news. Not only does reading help you unplug while still keeping you entertained, it educates, relaxes and offers a time of peace and silence. 

Taking steps towards a healthier you

Prioritizing your health is as simple as knowing your goals and taking the steps to meet them. It’s always good to take a moment to identify what those goals are and how you’re to achieve them, rather than just having good intentions of living a healthy life, mentally and physically. When you take active steps, you can regain control over your health and begin making decisions best for you. 

To learn more about healthy living, and how a healthy physical state positively impacts your mental health, contact Pyramid Online Counseling today at 833-525-3077.

The New Dad’s Guide to Managing Anxiety

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Becoming a father for the first time is full of joy, but it is also full of stress and a slew of new worries. It is completely natural to worry about your baby and even your parenting style, but anxiety can also be debilitating, preventing you from fully being there for your child. It takes some reflection and conscious effort, but it is entirely possible to cope with anxiety as a new dad.

Recognize what you can and cannot control

It is far too easy for anxiety to get out of hand. One minute you’re worrying about whether your baby’s bottle is the correct temperature, and the next minute you are full of dread about climate change and the world in which your baby will grow up. Stay present, start small, and focus on what you personally can change. Warm up the bottle a little bit extra and revel in this wonderful time in your and your baby’s lives.

Know that there is no weakness in having anxiety

It’s important, to be honest with yourself and your family about the anxiety you are feeling. Anxiety is a natural, and an entirely expected facet of fatherhood that ebbs and flows over time. Admitting that it is there is the first step to getting help dealing with it. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxiety, and understanding exactly what you are feeling is the first step to seeking out help, getting support and overcoming these obstacles. The goal should be to be the best parent you can be while still taking care of your own mental, physical and emotional health, and a key aspect to that is being aware of and honest about your own mental state.

Share parenting responsibilities

If you are parenting with your partner, come up with an action plan ahead of time. Talk with each other to consider the many different responsibilities you will share as parents, and attempt to plan how you will deal with each of them. How will you split responsibilities? What is your plan of action should specific circumstances arise? Discussing and having a plan ahead of time eases the burden once you are sleep-deprived and dealing with these stressful situations, so you don’t have to have the added stress of making these decisions and delegations once you are already sleep-deprived and anxious.

If you are a single dad, call in all of the reinforcement that you can. Your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, siblings and even the neighbor next door are all rooting for you as a dad and would be happy to lend a hand when you need it. Even if you only need a babysitter for an hour so you can run some errands and do a load of laundry, don’t be afraid to ask.

Seek the advice of other parents you know

For better or for worse, fellow parents love sharing all of their favorite parenting tips and tricks. While this is sometimes unwarranted – and annoying, especially when you are trying to keep your baby from crying in the checkout line at the grocery store – other parents are also sources of wisdom. Their years of experience will serve you well when you are feeling a bout of anxiety.

Keep your pediatrician on speed dial

One of the leading sources of anxiety new parents face is concern over the health and well-being of their children. Attempting to understand and interpret the many subtle and confusing signs of your newborn’s health can be particularly daunting and stress-inducing, and just knowing that you have easy access to an expert opinion can go a long way towards easing those anxieties. Get to know your pediatrician well even before your child arrives, and don’t hesitate to approach them with any questions or concerns that might be leading to additional anxiety for you.

Prioritize sleep – yes, it is possible!

Anxiety is probably already keeping you up at night, as you are full of worries about whether your baby is happy, healthy and thriving, or if you are living up to your full potential as a dad. You are also probably anxious about how little sleep you are getting and are worried about how that affects your parenting. Unfortunately, lack of sleep contributes greatly to symptoms of anxiety because the central nervous system is not able to function at baseline levels. Herein lies the catch-22; anxiety leads to lack of sleep, and lack of sleep leads to anxiety.

Pyramid Online Counseling provides effective and secure online counseling, specializing in treating symptoms of anxiety. You should never be afraid to ask for help with your anxiety, especially as a new dad. Reach out today at 833-525-3077 to begin treatment for your anxiety.

How Can I Overcome My Anxiety as a New Mom?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Let’s be honest: Becoming a new mom is scary. Motherhood is a beautiful experience unlike any other, but it is also one that brings about feelings of stress, worry and exhaustion. The good news is that you are not alone, and you are capable of confronting and overcoming your feelings of anxiety.

Don’t compare your experience as a mother to that of other mothers in your life

For better or for worse, there is no handbook on how to be the perfect mother. As long as you are following health and safety guidance for things like car seats and safe sleep, there is no one right way of doing things when it comes to parenting. It can be difficult to refrain from comparing your choices and decisions – from whether your baby uses a pacifier to whether you subscribe to the cry-it-out method – but this comparison has the potential, while unwarranted, to make you feel inadequate.

If breastfeeding didn’t work out for you and your baby, but your best friend swears by it for her baby, that’s perfectly fine; the most important thing is that both babies are healthy and fed. If you are opting to place your toddler in daycare so you can return to work, trust that this is the best decision for your family even if your mom was a stay-at-home-mom. Of course, it’s important to ask for help when you need it, but questioning your choices as a mother based on someone else’s experience will only lead to anxiety about whether you are doing the right thing.

Take time for yourself

You didn’t stop having needs once you became a mom. Ensuring that you are well-fed, well-rested, and well cared for is just as important for you as it is for your baby. It’s possible — and critically important — to maintain your independence and tend to your needs as a new mom because it will help clear your head and burn off excess anxiety.

Worry for our children is only exacerbated when we aren’t near them or can’t see what they are doing, but it’s not healthy for you nor baby to spend all of your time together. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after having lunch with a friend, watching a couple of episodes of your favorite show, practicing yoga for an hour, or even going grocery shopping by yourself. Plus, this allows for extra bonding time between your baby and their other parent, grandparents or trusted friend who offered to babysit.

Know that you are enough

If you are worried about whether or not you are doing right by your child, chances are, you are. That you care so deeply about how you are doing as a mom is a testament to the love and concern you have for your child. When you’re feeling anxious about whether or not you’re a good mom, think about everything you did for your baby that day. You fed them multiple times, often before you had the chance to eat. You burped them so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. You skipped your own nap so you could rock your baby to sleep.

You changed their diaper, even if it was messy. You soothed them when they cried. You played with them and read to them to keep them stimulated. You wrapped them in a blanket when they were cold and took their tiny socks off when they were warm. You triple-checked that their car seat was latched correctly. Some of these sound like basic responsibilities, but they are parts of a whole that make up a loving parent, and they are also especially difficult when feelings of anxiety and exhaustion are overwhelming.

Talk it out with someone

Approximately 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety once they become a new mom – and this only includes women who have been diagnosed. This sobering figure speaks to the sheer volume of women who experience anxiety after their baby is born, yet it is not very widely discussed in our society’s discourse on the relationship between pregnancy, motherhood, and mental health. 

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, your feelings of anxiety as a new mom are completely valid and deserving of being heard. Speak with your partner or another close adult you can confide in about your feelings, and let them know if you need any help. Bottling up feelings of anxiety will only worsen the issue, and something as simple as expressing what exactly you are anxious about will lighten your mental load.

A licensed counselor or therapist, particularly one who specializes in anxiety or postpartum anxiety, can be another incredible resource for new moms experiencing anxiety. Different therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy can all be effective treatment options, provided in a safe and neutral space dedicated to your care.

Pyramid Online Counseling is experienced at providing compassionate treatment for new moms, particularly those experiencing postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or just needing someone to talk to. Online counseling, or teletherapy, is a great option for busy moms who want to address and overcome their anxiety. Get help today by reaching out at 833-525-3077.

How Parents Can Rejuvenate in Minutes

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Parenting is exhausting. It’s exhausting for many reasons, but a frequent cause is the feeling of not being able to get a moment’s peace. Especially when you have little ones, a moment to yourself can be all but impossible. And when you give and give and give, but don’t take the time to allow yourself to be refilled, you pretty soon start pouring from an empty cup – which benefits no one. 

So when you finally do have a second to yourself, perhaps during naptime, soccer practice or a playdate, it’s important to make the most of that time to help you recharge and take on the rest of the day. 

Pet therapy

If you have a pet – a dog, cat, or even a guinea pig – take a moment to appreciate them. Even if it’s brief, spending time with an animal can relax you and simply make you feel better. The repetitive action of petting or brushing your animal can be soothing for you and relaxing for them. And if the kids aren’t home, take your dog out for a walk, because exercise and getting out of the house is always a good option.

Take a bath

It doesn’t have to be an hour-long extravaganza with candles and wine and music. It can literally be a 20 minute soak with some lavender bath salts. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed, clean and relaxed. And if you have other chores needing to be done around the house, take the time the tub is filling to cross-off a couple of to-do’s so you can rest in the bath totally guilt-free. 

Give yourself a pedicure

This is for those mamas out there, but taking a few minutes to paint your toenails will give you time for self-care, plus it might help you feel a little more put-together. Plus, it only takes a few minutes – you can continue with the dishes or the laundry while you wait for them to dry. 

Make yourself a drink

Sometimes making yourself strong iced coffee, lemon or cucumber-infused water or a hot tea with honey is a great way to rejuvenate yourself. Take the time to prepare a drink you’ll enjoy, and then sit down and enjoy it. The emails, the laundry, even the pile of mail aren’t going anywhere, but your sanity might be. Do something for yourself, sit on the front porch with your drink, and just take a moment. You won’t regret it. 

Do some gardening

Maybe you have a full-fledged garden with veggies, herbs and flowers in your backyard, or maybe you just have one or two potted plants. Regardless of what you have growing, take some time to care for it. Gardening can be both relaxing as well as fulfilling, plus it gets you outside to soak in some essential vitamin D. 

Make yourself a snack

When you’re running from one thing to the next, it’s really easy to forget to eat or to just snack on whatever the kids are having. And while crackers taste good, they’re not really doing anything nutritious for your body. Plus, “getting hangry” is a real thing, which can make dealing with cranky kids even more difficult. When you have a minute throughout the day, make sure to eat a filling, healthy snack – think hummus and carrots, peanut butter and apples, cowboy caviar and tortilla chips, or anything with high protein and low sugar to give you a boost till the next meal. 

Let your device be

Your kids want your attention all the time. And your phone wants your attention constantly as well. So when you finally have a break from your kids, take a break from your phone, too. Make sure your time to rest is actually a moment to rest and not a time to still be turned on to texts, emails or calls. Leave your phone in another room and give your full attention to making yourself food, finishing the laundry or dinner prep, or working on your hobby.

Read a book

Books are much more productive and worthwhile than scrolling through a newsfeed and provide you with rest and entertainment all at the same time. It’s easy to forget about reading books, especially if the ones on your shelf have become more decorative than anything, but if you find yourself with a little free time and need to wind down, pull a book off the shelf, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and cuddle up on the couch for a few minutes of peace.

Rest

No matter what, make sure that you use the time you have to rest to really truly rest. When you’re tired, hungry or overwhelmed, it’s easier than ever to be impatient or short-tempered. So when you can take a minute to yourself, even to just take some really deep breaths and stare out the window blankly, take that time to refocus, recenter and prepare yourself as much as possible for the rest of the day. 

Parenting is challenging in many ways, and help is always there if you need it. To speak with a professional counselor, reach out to Pyramid Online Counseling today at 833-525-3077.

Preparing Mind & Body for Fatherhood

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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Fatherhood is a rewarding and challenging experience all at once. There will be days where you will doubt every decision you make, and there will be other days where you simply take a moment to drink in the beauty and wonder that is your child and the family you have created. Fatherhood will be unlike anything you have experienced before. Naturally, preparing yourself for this change in your life is nothing short of nerve-wracking. The good news is you have approximately nine months to get ready for it. 

How can I practically prepare myself for fatherhood?

When you become a father for the first time, you will find yourself doing things that you never had to worry about before, like changing diapers 10+ times per day. There are ways to prepare for this before your baby arrives: 

  • Begin stocking up on the essentials: diapers, onesies, socks, bibs, wipes, pacifiers and bottles. You can never have too much. 
  • Prepare your diaper-changing station so that you are armed with all of your tools when the baby arrives. Practice changing diapers, wiping and applying diaper rash cream. Similarly, practice swaddling as much as you can. 
  • Research car seat and stroller options, and be sure to check safety ratings and whether there are any recalls. Practice installing the car seat in your car, and double-check that everything has been buckled and the seat is secure. 
  • If you are working or plan to return to work after your baby is born, familiarize yourself with your company’s leave policy. You may qualify for parental leave, or you may find yourself having to take PTO. Work with your manager and HR early on to determine the specifics of your leave.

How can I mentally prepare myself for fatherhood?

Let’s get this out of the way: there is no such thing as the perfect parent. It’s important to set expectations at the outset before your child arrives so that you aren’t setting yourself up for disappointment.

  • Know that being scared, nervous, or anxious is totally normal and reasonable. It is possible to be both excited for your future family and scared for the changes that await you.
  • Phone a friend, whether it’s your dad, brother, friend or another father figure in your life. Experienced dads have seen it all and are more than happy to share their advice. 
  • Accept that your sleep schedule will change drastically once the baby is born, and identify potential efficiencies in your routine. If you know you’ll be too tired to do dishes or pick up around the house, prepare some freezer meals and tidy up what you can now. You will feel more at ease knowing that, while you may be getting less sleep, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when running on a few hours. 
  • Read up on safe sleep practices for the baby. It’s easy to make a quick decision on sleeping arrangements when both of you are tired, but being prepared with safety knowledge is in the best interest of both baby and parent. 
  • You probably have never been covered in another person’s bodily fluids. You will no longer be able to say that in a few short months. The more you mentally prepare for the possibility, the less shocking it will be when it actually happens.

How can I support my partner as we both prepare for parenthood?

As a father, you may not be able to take away your partner’s cravings, back pain or the general discomforts that can accompany pregnancy, but you are able to be present and provide support.

  • Attend birthing classes with your partner. They will feel supported, and it will give you both an idea of what to expect on the big day. As a bonus, you will meet other parents-to-be who will understand what you are going through and can even lead to playdates in the future. 
  • Attend every doctor’s appointment and ultrasound if you are able. Seeing each sonogram and hearing positive updates from the doctor are special experiences that should be shared with your partner. This is also a great opportunity to ask the doctor any questions you might have about how the pregnancy is going, whether certain symptoms are normal, and what to expect in the days following your baby’s birth.
  • Make sure to always have a supply of the things that make pregnancy easier for your partner, whether that is body pillows, antacid tabs or comfortable pajamas. 
  • As your baby’s due date nears, pack a go-bag for things that you, your partner and baby will need, including but not limited to: homecoming outfits, diapers, blankets, snacks, phone chargers, a camera, toiletries, medical records and changes of clothes. You likely won’t need all of this, but it’s better to be over-prepared. 
  • Work together on the birthing plan so that you are on the same page when the time comes. 

Many of these tips still apply if you and your partner are adopting or having a child via surrogacy. The most important thing to remember is to be there for each other every single day so that you can begin parenthood on a solid foundation.

Pyramid Online Counseling offers secure, confidential online counseling for dads-to-be experiencing anxiety in anticipation of the birth of their baby. Reach out today at 833-525-3077  to speak with a counselor and learn coping skills that will carry you through pregnancy, delivery, and parenthood.