Watch a movie that makes you laugh or listen to a song that makes you cry. Embrace your emotions and be proud of what you feel.
The four primary emotions are a great place to start when you’re trying to figure out how you’re really feeling in any given moment during postpartum. These are:
First, name the actual feeling you’re experiencing, and then allow yourself time and space to feel these emotions (instead of trying to avoid them or brush them under the rug and pretend they aren’t here). Creating space to feel uncomfortable feelings can actually bring you relief from them. And yes, it can be truly difficult to lean into the discomfort these feelings and emotions may bring up for you. But, the more energy you use to try to avoid them, the more they tend to show up and demand to be addressed.
Also, pay attention to where you feel/carry these emotions in your body:
- Your head- frequent headaches, pressure behind your eyes, pounding inside your head
- Your jaw- clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, jaw pain
- Your neck and shoulders- tightness, pain, muscle soreness
- Your chest- heart pounding, tightness, trouble breathing, shallow breathes
- Your stomach- butterflies in your stomach, pain, digestive issues
- Your hands- clenching your fists, sweaty palms
- Your legs/feet- crossed, restless
Or, another part of your body?
Feelings and Emotions Check In
It may be helpful to do a feelings and emotions check in at the end of the day using the four primary feelings as a starting place: happy, sad, mad, scared. You can do this exercise on your own in a journal or with your partner and older kids out loud. Here are some reflection questions:
- What made you feel happy today? Try to focus on the big and small positives that happened throughout your day.
- What made you feel sad today? Was it something someone said or did (external factors)? Were you missing someone in your life (internal factors)?
- What made you feel mad today? Is there a deeper feeling underneath the anger such as sadness, fear, frustration or agitation that’s possibly at the root of your angry feelings?
- What made you feel scared today? Is it actually the fear of something that may happen in the future (What ifs)?
- What was the best part of your day? End your day on a positive note! Name some things you feel grateful for in your life right here and now.
This exercise can also be helpful if you grew up in a household where it wasn’t safe to share how you were feeling. You may have learned that being happy was the only acceptable emotion, or possibly no emotions were permitted in your household at all. This exercise goes back to the basics to help you get in tune with your primary emotions, so you can figure out how you’re actually feeling throughout your day and why.