As a stay-at-home mom, I have had discouraging days. Some days I can pinpoint my discouragement, while other days it's hard to identify. Sometimes, I like to say that I am in a "funk". Discouragement can be defined as being disheartened, a loss of enthusiasm, and having a loss of hope. This differs from depression. Depression is feeling dejected over a longer period of time, prolonged feelings of hopelessness, and it can affect one's ability to live day to day. Reasons for stay-at-home moms to be discouraged vary. It might include isolation, lack of self worth, finances, boredom, etc. The intent is to provide some tools for moms to deal with their discouraging days. I don't claim to be an expert or have all of the answers. My hope is that you will find one tool that might help you as a stay-at-home mom!
Questions regarding self-care:
1. Are you struggling with eating or exercise? I know I am more irritable or crabby when I am not taking care of myself. If I neglect to make exercise a priority, then my mood starts to show it. Over the years I have prayed for a walking partner and the Lord has been faithful to provide four different women. Ask God to help you with getting a plan for your eating and your exercise. Consider asking a friend to be your accoutability partner for eating.
2. Are you taking time to recharge? I find myself getting agitated if I have not had time away. Now that my children are in school, I do have more down time. I remember as a young mom just needing to get one or two hours away each week by myself. Sometimes I would just go to Target at 9:00 and walk around aimlessly to get some time for myself.
3. Are you feeling lonely or isolated? Pray for likeminded friends. We have moved several times and the Lord has been faithful to answer this prayer each time. Sometimes, it is intimidating to attend a new Bible study or a new mom's group, but I encourage you to go. I can remember going to a new mom's group and after the first meeting I just cried and cried. It made me feel so alone, because I did not know a soul. The Lord gave me the strength to go back and now I have some of my very closest friends in this group.
Questions regarding your thought life:
1. Are you allowing negative thoughts about your situation to consume you? Maybe your thoughts are negative about yourself, your finances, your marriage, or your current location. Ask the Lord to help you to see the positives. True contentment comes from much practice. I love the verse in the Message Bible that says "Always look for the best.". Consider using a journal to jot down the positives.
2. Are you comparing yourself or your situation to others? Sometimes, I can look at others and just feel totally inadequate. We can get caught up in comparing our looks, our gifts, our finances, our vacations, our children, and the list goes on and on. Comparison is never helpful or productive. Take note of when you are most likely to fall into this trap. Maybe it comes from looking at FB or Instagram too often. Maybe limit your time on there.
3. Are you thinking about what others think of you? I know when I am focused on getting the approval of others, I can get discouraged because often times people do not give us the attention we crave. I need to remind myself over and over again that God approves of me and that is more than enough. Sometimes I have to speak it out loud to myself.
1. Talk to the Lord. Tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to encourage you some and then look for Him to do so. One day I was especially lonely and I talked to the Lord about it. That very day I meet one of my walking partners at the park. How cool is that?
2. Ask the Lord to show you a friend or a neighbor that you can minister to that day. It feels good to serve and bless someone else. It gets our thoughts off of ourselves. Bake some goodies and just tie a little card on it. Keep it simple. This one little act for someone else can turn my day around.
3. Tell your close friends and your hubby that you are struggling. Let them know so they can be lifting you up in prayer and offering their support. Don't try to be strong. Let others help you.
4. Go to God for comfort. Sometimes as women we want to run to food or something else. When I am struggling, I love to read the Psalms until I can find a verse to hold onto for the day.
5. Remind yourself that your work at home matters. It is a high calling to be the keeper of your home. It is kingdom work. You may not be appreciated as much as you would hope for, but God sees. He sees the hours you are pouring into your family.
I researched depression in women extensively, and I wanted to share some of the findings. Women are 2 times more likely to suffer depression than men. Twelve percent of women will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. There was a study done in 2012 on 60,000 women. This particular study found that stay-at-home moms are more prone to depression than women in the work force by 10-12 percent.
At this point in my life, I have not had a season of weeks or months of depression. If you have, I am so very sorry. I cannot imagine. If you are depressed now and you don't see changes regarding your depression, please get help. Talk to someone at your church or get a referrral for a good counselor.
Lastly, a prayer for the depressed:
God I bring________ before You. Remind her that You see her, You see her "hard". I ask You to lift her head today. Restore the sparkle of her eyes. Comfort her, encourage her, and renew her strength. Give her a strong hope for her future. Remind her that You have countless plans for her life. If she needs professional help, guide her along the best pathway of healing. You Father are the Healer of our souls. Reach down and rescue and save Your beloved. In Jesus Name. Amen