Looking After You (and your feet!)

If you are suffering with postnatal depression, you are likely feeling very down and unable to shake your feelings of sadness, you may be struggling to enjoy any of the things you used to enjoy. You are probably feeling overwhelmed by having a new baby to look after and may be having difficulty bonding with your baby. You may be low in energy and also struggling to sleep.

These symptoms could all build up over time and you may not realise that you are suffering from post natal depression. Therefore you might just think that you are not coping with the day to day things that other people are which may make you feel worse and can make you reluctant to make social contact and reluctant to tell anyone how you are feeling.

If you are struggling with these symptoms after having a baby then it is important that you reach out for help. Speaking to people about how you feel means that you can start getting the help that you need. Your GP or midwives should quickly be able to offer you options for effective treatment. These options will include antidepressants and talking therapy. They may also give you some advice on self help and lifestyle advice that may improve your mood and your sleep.

The self help element can be extremely important for all new mums, especially those suffering from symptoms of depression. This will usually involve fuelling your body with the right foods, trying to incorporate more movement and exercise into your days and finding suitable methods of relaxation to fit into your new life.

Feet might not be the first thing you think of when you're considering self care, but as it's National Feet Week, we're highlighting the importance of looking after your feet. In fact looking after often neglected feet can be a great act of self care and something small enough that it may seem achievable when you're struggling with how big your feelings are and how much you have to deal with. And if you've ever had a pedicure, a foot massage or a reflexology treatment, you might recall that feeling of lightness afterwards? Taking the weight of your feet and relaxing completely while someone else gives your feet some love can't fail to make you feel better!

As a reflexologist, I have an understanding of how the health of your feet can be a reflection of the health of your whole body and mind. Reflexology is based on the concept that there are reflex points on the feet that can be mapped to every organ, gland and structure of the body. The treatment is a massage and specific pressure technique that can aid relaxation and release tension in the body.

Reflexology can help to support clients with depression in a number of ways. Allowing yourself the time for a treatment, means allowing yourself a break and a time to switch off, which is hugely beneficial, particularly if you are someone that struggles to switch off during your own time (or of course if you have a demanding baby). The power of touch during a reflexology treatment can lead to the release of oxytocin which lowers stress hormones, reduces blood pressure and induces the ability to sleep. The specific pressure techniques of a reflexology treatment can focus on bringing the body back into balance, whether this be fluctuating hormones, tension held in certain areas of your body or digestive issues. If your body is able to relax and come into a natural balance then it helps it work at a more optimum level, improving the flow of energy and bringing all of the bodies systems into balance, and this in turn gives the body and mind a better ability to heal itself.

Although professional help is essential if you are suffering from depression, never underestimate the power of even the smallest act of self-care.

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