Is it still postpartum depression if my baby is eight months old? Why not? I don’t know what else to blame these strange, mid-afternoon slumps on, so I’ll blame it on that.
But for real, I kind of think it does have to do with fluctuating hormones. I’m still breastfeeding, after all, and that has its own impact on bodily functions, so who knows? I don’t suppose the root cause really even matters right now. I’m more interested in the antidote.
In the last few months, after a long recovery from my C-section, I’ve been getting back into my daily walking habit. I get out with R in the early morning hours, right after the sun comes up, and we walk around 3-5 miles, usually getting done before nine. And I feel amazing. Seriously amazing…
…Until around two in the afternoon, when my natural high falls into a ditch and I begin to feel so low and blah. My energy is fine, it really is just my mood, and I’m not a moody person. It’s not anything to freak out about, and I definitely know I’m not in the middle of a crisis. But I’m definitely in the middle of something.
So I’ve been doing the only thing I can: I get out the door and walk some more. There’s a tiny town nearby with a beautiful river that flows through it, and that’s where I’ve been going with R. We walk down sidewalks, explore old alleys, sit down by the river, talk to locals, and then walk some more.
It feels so slow and old-fashioned, but it’s simply elemental. It’s what we humans are supposed to do: Move. Interact. Be outdoors. Breathe fresh air. Develop a relationship with nature.
While I’m not spouting a cure for anything, let alone postpartum depression (especially a severe form of it), I am suggesting a form of medicine that will support us as we move through certain stages of life.
Literally, because movement is not just something we do and for our bodies. It’s a tonic for our minds, too. Ponder this quote from John J. Ratey, an MD from Harvard Medical School:
“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”
I just love this quote. It sums it up perfectly. We need movement for our mental well-being.
Back when I was a massage therapist, I was constantly trying to get my clients to move more to correct physical imbalances and injuries that they came in with. But I never encouraged them to get moving for their brains.
And really, why would I? It was kind-of outside my scope of practice, but looking back, I wish I would have. The plight of the modern human is heavy, and I’m now of the mind that many of the common ailments are rooted in the brain.
The truth is, staying indoors, or driving somewhere, or going shopping to distract myself from how I’m feeling, only masks the problem. But when I get outside and move my body, I’m not masking the problem. I’m moving the problem. I’m moving through what I’m experiencing.
I’m beginning to really understand that more movement is a major key in having a happier life. I’ve known this for years, but I’m starting to embody the understanding, to actually digest it and understand it first hand. A stagnant life is a stagnant mind is stagnant emotion, but just a little movement can get things flowing again.
There’s just no downside, but I’ve only been talking about myself, haven’t I? The truth is, getting outside is just as much for R as it is for me. I consider it her education, in the loosest and most open-ended way possible. What more does she need besides love from her family and nature?
Nature contains the maximum sensory input: the sounds from birds and the river and squirrels running up trees, the warmth of the sun on skin and the cool of the air in the shadows, toes dipped into water, the smell of flowers and pines and dirt, smooth rocks and rough pinecones and tiny acorns to explore.
There’s so, so much that she’s taking in every second when we’re outside, as opposed to the static, quiet environment inside the house. I do love home-adore it actually, but if I’m not careful, I spend more time inside it than I do outside, and in nice weather, that’s just not ok.
So if you’re feeling dips in your day like I am, get outside. Go for a walk. A long one. Take some water. Maybe a snack. Sun hats for you and your baby. A small umbrella just in case. Earbuds to listen to a podcast if your baby falls asleep. I’ll link to a few things that I take with me every time I go out that makes exploring the outdoors with a baby fun. Anyhow, have fun, and more importantly, feel better :)
Links to what I use on our walks:
Have I left out anything important? What would you add? Let me know in the comments below :)
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