Gratitude Journaling for Maternal Mental Health

The following is adapted from a blog piece that was originally published November 27, 2015, on PlacentaPalmBeach.com, a collaboration between myself and a local colleague, Cher Kay.

Women are often attracted to having their placentas encapsulated after hearing testimonies of women who seem to have prevented postpartum mood and anxiety disorders with the consumption of their encapsulated placenta. Indeed, after my personal bout with postpartum depression in 2010, I was compelled to do everything possible to prevent a repeat postpartum depression, even, for a time, not having anymore children at all. Placenta encapsulation was a beacon of light for me once my midwife shared with me the experiences of her patients who chose the service. For a mother who feels helplessly stuck in an ocean of postpartum discontent, I do have some hope for you as well!

After attending a training in Kinesiology for birth professionals this fall at The Farm Midwifery Center (internationally renowned for positive outcomes, low intervention rates, and prominence in birth documentaries and literature), I am now able to offer balancing sessions to mothers who would like a non medical opportunity to work on postpartum goals (as well as birth and pregnancy goals). Email me at tremendoulas@gmail.com and mention that you’re interested in kinesiology to find out more information about this new service. As always, Cher and I offer postpartum doula services and belly binding to aid your transition to motherhood as well.

Here is another idea, and it won’t cost you a penny: gratitude journaling! A daily practice of coming up with a few things (typically 5) that you are grateful for, gratitude journaling increases our awareness of our blessings and helps close out the negative thoughts that are so easy to ruminate upon, if gone unchecked. Ideally, you don’t write each day, “I’m thankful for my family, friends, house, food, and water.” Not that those are unworthy of being thankful for, but if you take the time to notice things that are less obvious, like the way the orange blossoms are opening, the way your baby’s hand wraps around your finger, or the warmth of your coffee, then you are finding more subtle gifts, which are pretty abundant, once you focus on them.By reinforcing positive thoughts and an abundance mindset, and reducing the amount of time available to focus on depressing or anxiety producing thoughts, we maximize the benefits of positive psychology. At the very least, gratitude journaling is a risk-free type of intervention you have complete control over, unlike medications.

This was a very challenging practice for me when I started, but was, with practice, easier for me to do and ended up being one of the rafts that carried me to the shore of mental sanity. If you find this exercise challenging for you also, this could be an indicator that you also are suffering from a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, and additional assistance may be required. If you want to give gratitude journaling a try but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some ideas you can think about, which are personal to me but may spark your own thoughts of thankfulness. Without further ado, here is my list of 100 things I am thankful for today:

1. My sense of sight
2. My sense of touch
3. My sense of hearing
4. My sense of smell
5. My sense of taste
6. Legs that carry me
7. My children’s soft skin
8. My proximity to the ocean
9. My memory
10. My literacy
11. Books
12. Religious freedom
13. Sunrises
14. Sunsets
15. Running water
16. Bees who pollinate all the crops that feed me
17. Honey
18. Local produce
19. Summer camp
20. My health
21. The fact that I was breastfed as a baby
22. Fresh fish
23. My awesome little church, Royal Poinciana Chapel
24. The quality programming at our local libraries
25. The moments when my children hold each other’s hands
26. The sound of palm branches rustling in the breeze
27. Seashells
28. Our tiny little sailboat that buys big adventures for our family
29. Compost
30. Our favorite neighborhood eats: Table 26, Cafe Sapori, Belle and Maxwell’s, and Rhythm Cafe
31. Frozen pizza
32. Text messaging
33. Caller ID
34. My dental hygiene
35. Our front porch swing
36. Our piano
37. My easels, paints, brushes, palette knifes, palettes, and canvases (even if my kids are adults before I find the time to use them again)
38. Pencils and paper for the meantime
39. My many teachers and mentors over the years
40. All of the fascinating trainings I’ve attended as a doula and placenta encapsulator
41. My dog’s eagerness to see me when I get home
42. My children’s eagerness to be with me
43. My husband’s love, support, and dedication
44. Warm soup on a cool day
42. Hot tea
43. Fresh herbs
44. My sweet acupuncturist, Sarah Smith
45. The many caring midwives I know
46. Towels fresh out of the dryer
47. Fresh squeezed orange juice
48. Free concerts that you encounter unexpectedly while wandering CityPlace or Clematis St.
49. Our favorite playgrounds around town
50. Chilly FL days that beg for a day of wearing jeans and not shaving your legs
51. The resourcefulness and creativity of my fun-loving and inquisitive children
52. Essential oils
53. Romance
54. Beethoven
55. Trader Joe’s
56. The impact of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches and all the friendships I’ve formed there
57. Fantastic work partners who back me up when I’m occasionally sick
58. Grateful Dead’s Ripple
59. Pina coladas made with fresh local coconuts
60. My family that loves having impromptu dance parties
61. Local nature preserves and parks
62. Safe, working transportation
63. Modern refrigeration
64. Modern washers and dryers
65. We have a working dishwasher
66. Perky wildflowers
67. I can do cartwheels
68. That summer I hiked half of the Appalachian trail and got pregnant
69. Well trained aquarium staff that found my missing son and prevented kidnapping
70. My bicycle + the bike trailer that hauls my children
71. Hot boiled peanuts
72. The undeserved mercy I’ve received from family and friends
73. My husband’s employment which has permitted me to stay at home for the early years of motherhood
74. My Austrian semester abroad
75. The phenomenal order and detail of God’s creation — from butterfly to iguana to plankton and beyond (not counting weather systems, landscapes, and cosmos)
76. The moon and stars
77. Henry David Thoreau
78. The experiences I’ve had snowboarding and skiing
79. The joy of laughter
80. The kindness of smiles
81. The health of my husband and children
82. Air conditioning
83. When an outfit improves my outlook for the day
84. The refuge of prayer
85. Netflix (& Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood)
86. Van Morrison
87. The free market influences on our nation’s economy, which permit me to set up and run my business with a certain amount of ease
88. My hymnal
89. The scent of freshly mowed grass
90. My awesome babysitters from Palm Beach Atlantic University
91. Hand knitted blankets, mittens, sweaters, and hats
92. Classic home cooking
93. A comfy mattress
94. Warm bodies to snuggle with
95. Pandora radio
96. The Brothers Grimm
97. Artists who really get it, like the unknown person who penned the lullaby Rockabye Baby
98. The diversity of art galleries in the Palm Beaches
99. The power of kinesiology
100. My clients

I hope this was helpful, and wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

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