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 any more 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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