On the Upswing

This weekend, I was struggling with what Ben calls my “downswing”. In the beginning, postpartum anxiety made every day hard, but over time, the hard days have gotten fewer, and I enjoy longer “upswings”.:) But Ben still needs to remind me during my times of discouragement that it comes and goes, and if I just hang in there, things will soon get better.

Saturday morning, I could feel the downswing coming on, and I worked hard to resist it all day. In my head, I knew there was no reason to feel fear or stress, but no amount of logical thinking could get rid of the heavy spirit that persisted. I kept praying and distracting myself, but by Sunday morning, I was feeling worn out.

That’s when I remembered something a friend says:

“Worship changes the atmosphere in your home.”

I believe that’s true, but I seem to underestimate the power of it….

I got out my phone, and started looking for a good song on our youtube playlist. Nothing was hitting the spot, so I started searching Bethel music for a good option. I didn’t really know exactly what I was looking for, but when nothing stood out, I decided to just play the first song that popped up.

You guys. This is what I heard:

“No Longer Slaves”

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am child of God…
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??!! God is awesome. I was a bawling mess by the chorus, and for the rest of the day, those words kept running through my mind – “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God….”
How often is He waiting to provide exactly what we need, right when we need it? All the time. How often do I miss it? I dismiss it as coincidence, or I don’t slow down and take the time to follow the promptings in my heart, or I’m not quiet enough to let Him get a word in edgewise.
But this time I got it right, and I’m so thankful I didn’t miss it. He rescued me so I could stand and sing. He takes my hand, and we are on the upswing!

10 Ways I’m Finding Peace and Calm

Life is awesome with my sweet kids.

Life is crazy with my sweet kids.

kidsCrazy, as in fun, unpredictable, and wild, but also crazy, as in sometimes I go to the bathroom to cry for a bit because I feel overwhelmed.

I was waiting for things to get easier as Everett got a few months older, and they just weren’t. Ben got worried about how I was handling life in general and started googling “postpartum depression”.

I’d say, “I don’t really want to go out of the house. Ever.” And he’d say, “That’s a symptom of postpartum depression, you know.” He kept slipping in these helpful little reminders a few times a day, until I finally asked how exactly he knew so much about it, and that’s when he confessed to researching it. Definitely made me realize it was time to evaluate things.

But postpartum depression didn’t fit. I read about it myself, and it just wasn’t right. Then I learned about postpartum anxiety, and we started getting somewhere. I went to see my doctor, who agreed that something was going on, but felt it didn’t require medication at this point.

So I got busy researching and brainstorming, and have come up with a list of calming activities that I love a lot. I’m feeling better, but definitely have ups and downs. What I’m finding is an amazing collection of techniques which will be useful long after the postpartum issues have faded – these are just awesome habits for life – for anyone who’s feeling the pressure is getting to be a bit much.

Here are my favorites:

1) Go for a walk – EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So basic, I know, but this saves me. I noticed a pattern – panic on days when I didn’t walk, and cheerful on days when I did. So now I get out there every single morning, no matter what the weather is, and I never want to stop.

2) Essential oils

You hear about them everywhere. It’s because they’re wonderful. There’s no way of measuring how much they’re helping, but they smell amazing, and they bring a ton of enjoyment and sense of calm into my life. I’m using Lavender and Frankincense, as well as blends like Joy, Stress Away, Aligning, and At Peace. (I order from Young Living and Native American Nutritionals.)

3) Counseling

This has been so, so good. I happen to think everyone should go for counseling. I once read that a person’s worldview is pretty much formed by the time he or she is five years old!!! What?! Who has the skills to deal well with the world by the age of five? No one. Every single one of us has baggage and habits that are not working for us.

I’ve told Ben for a few years that I should go for counseling. I just never got around to it until now, and I’m so glad something finally pushed me over the edge. It’s been extremely helpful. (I called Recovery of Hope to get connected with a counselor.)

4) Colouring!

My counselor suggested colouring as relaxation therapy. She said she’s come across it a number of times, and as soon as she suggested it, this excitement jumped up inside me – I love colouring!! They actually make colouring books for adults! Color Me Calm is in my Amazon shopping cart, but for now, I’m exploring all of the free options on Pinterest.

color5) Breathing Techniques

There are a number of different techniques to try, but my favorite is the 4-7-8 one. Very simple – breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and breathe out very slowly for eight seconds. It puts me to sleep after only a few breathe cycles, but it’s also helpful for calming things down during the day.

6) Memorizing Verses

I’m writing verses on cards to take with me while I walk – anything to do with peace or rest! I want those amazing words ready in my mind whenever I need them, jumping into my thoughts at just the right moments. My friend once referred to it as giving the Holy Spirit more available data to use in directing our thoughts!

7) Massage

Ben missed his calling in life. He gives the best massages, and he enjoys doing it, so he’s happy to help out. Reflexology has been proven to be very helpful for postpartum anxiety, so a foot massage is always good! At this point, I haven’t started seeing a reflexologist, but I might yet if I need more help getting through this time.

8) Read Good Books

Right now I’m working on The Power of Positive Thinking. If I’m reading about it, I’m much more likely to think about it.

9) Know when to say “no”.

The other night as I was getting ready for bed, it suddenly hit me how much I was dreading my plans for the following day. I needed to stay home. Normally, I would have pushed through it, and kept my plans, but right now, I’m trying to be extra kind to myself, so if I don’t feel emotionally up to something, I’m not going to do it. I can’t afford to right now.

10) Do enjoyable things.

Eating strawberries (because that’s the only thing powerful enough to keep me away from a bag of chips!). Reading to my girls. Watching “West Wing” every single night. Weeding my flowerbed. Or letting the weeds grow, if that is more enjoyable in the moment. Getting on the floor for some stretches in the middle of the day. Drinking fresh carrot apple juice because I suddenly had a craving. Getting outside as much as I can, preferably with my camera.

Everett and BenWhatever might possibly seem like a good idea to bring a little bit of fun and enjoyment into the day. Usually I get too busy and run around until I’m tired and frazzled, but this will be the summer for going slow.

What do you do to bring peace and calm into your life?