Stop, Drop, and Roll: A Strategy for Dealing With Postpartum Anxiety
Feeling Anxious? Stop, Drop, and Roll!
We all know that an alarm is meant to catch our attention. It sends us a message, usually, “Hey, it’s time to do something,” or “Hey, you are in danger!!”
But all too often we ignore the alarms going off in our own body and before we know it, we are stuck down so deep in the muck and mire that we feel hopelessly stuck. Alarms can be inconvenient or even jarring, but if we learn to respond to them quickly and appropriately, we find that they can serve as helpful reminders that it is time to get to safety—before the storm rolls in.
Alarms going off became my “new normal” over the past few years due to my struggle with postpartum depression. It became so much the norm, in fact, that I just found a way to live with them. Being a new mom, I thought this was just the way things would be from now on. It was like a constant white noise in the background that I learned to tune out.
Deep down, I knew something was wrong, but I just didn’t know what to do about it. And focusing on it made me even more anxious, so I would ignore, withdraw or distract.
Thankfully, I eventually found a way to identify the source of the various alarms, understand what they were communicating, and learn techniques to respond in a healthy way.
One simple strategy I want to share with you today is “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”
Alarms going off became my “new normal” over the past few years due to my struggle with postpartum depression. It became so much the norm, in fact, that I just found a way to live with them.
Strategy: Stop, Drop, and Roll
Stop participating with whatever is triggering your anxiety. Go to a bathroom, a bedroom, a closet, in your car—just find the quietest place you can away from the trigger. (I understand this is difficult if you are alone with the kids and they are your trigger! But this might be a time to stick the toddler in a crib with the iPad and put the baby in the swing and just step into another room for a moment.)
Stop the shallow breathing from your chest and take a few deep breaths from deep within, instead. Draw a deep breath out from your core, through your nose, and hold it for a few seconds. Then release the air through your mouth. Do this 3-5 times.
Drop the irrational thoughts. If you tune in to your self-talk and realize you are thinking, “There is so much dirty laundry, this will never get done, and in fact, I might be the first person to ever die from drowning in dirty laundry,” etc.
Roll a new thought into your mind to replace the old thought. Try to step back from the emotion and be objective—what would you tell somebody else if they were in your shoes? So you might say, “The truth is that while there may be a lot of dirty laundry, it is not life-threatening. Nobody has ever died from dirty laundry. We are fed and clothed and safe. It is realistic for me to get through 2 loads, so I’ll choose what is most important to wash and the rest can wait.”
As I’ve said in previous articles, postpartum depression is not one problem, but many problems—so this tool is not the end-all, be-all solution to every issue we face; however, it is a simple tool that can be helpful.
Thanks for reading, and please stay tuned for more tips and tricks for overcoming postpartum depression!
More About My Experience With PPD
This article is part of a larger reflection of my experience with postpartum depression.
- The previous article in the series is: What Postpartum Depression Feels Like: The Invisible Thief
- The next article in the series is: Postpartum Panic Relapse: Why Falling Is Not Failing