1) Say no. Really. If you're tired, if you'd rather not, if you feel overwhelmed, if you're not in the mood. Say no. You don't need to justify it. You don't need to blame yourself for letting someone else down. Give yourself permission to just say no.
2) Say yes.
If someone volunteers to help, or someone asks you if you need anything or someone asks you if there is anything they can do, or buy, or clean, or change, or take care of for you....say yes.
3) Say thank you.
And if they DO help, just say thank you. Not, I'm sorry I needed you. Not, I feel so bad that you had to do such and such. Just thank you. Thank you for being my friend, thank you for taking such good care of me when I needed it, thank you for caring, thank you for understanding me or my situation so well. No apology. No regret. No defensiveness. No shame. Just thank you.
4) Ask for help.
Don't question your instinct to reach out for help. Pick a safe person whom you trust. And then, just go for it. Don't second guess yourself. Just ask. Tell yourself you will make yourself available to return the favor when the time is right. It's okay to ask for help right now.
5) Understand the laws of reciprocity.
The best way to receive support, love and feelings of satisfaction and contentment is to lend it out, offer your help, donate your time, reach out to someone you love, or a stranger. You may not believe how good that can feel inside.
6) Be kind.
To yourself. To others. Try to smile even when you don't feel like it. You might just trick your brain into thinking you feel good.
7) Be realistic.
Dial down your expectations. Settle into the here and now and accept your current state. Breathe deeply.
8) Respect yourself.
You deserve to feel good. You deserve to protect yourself from other people and things that make you feel bad right now. You deserve to honor all that is important to you, your values, your wishes, your desires. Listen to your heart. Trust your instincts.
9) Express yourself.
Bottling up your worries, your feelings, your concerns and opinions is a sure-fire way to sabotage your well-being. Talk to someone you trust. Speak up if you feel misunderstood. Do not tolerate toxic feelings or relationships.
10) Drop the guilt.
None of the above will be possible if you surrender to feelings of doubt or regret. Keep a sound bite in your head, "everything will be okay." Or, "all is good." Repeat, over and over again, until the guilt has nowhere to settle. Pushing out the guilt is one good way of letting your brain know that you are on a path to good health and will not stop along the way, to attend to negative, unsupportive thoughts.
Once you begin to practice the skill of saying no at the right times, saying yes in the right circumstances, saying thank you when appropriate, asking for help when you need it, giving in order to get, being loving and respectful to others in your life and especially to yourself, saying what you need to say and letting go of any excess guilt that lingers -- you will feel the difference. And it will feel wonderful.
copyright 2011 Karen Kleiman, LCSW postpartumstress.com