The Outdoor Workout That Eased My Postpartum Depression
I have always been a cheerful person. I'm known for my smile and "Pollyanna" outlook on life. After giving birth to twin boys 10 months ago, I was over the moon in love with them. I have a 4-year-old son as well, and my boys mean the world to me. I was doing my best to juggle my career, three boys under 4, keep up with my yoga practice, all while healing my diastasis. I have to admit, I was getting pretty tapped out.
I hadn’t been sleeping much since the twins were born (one of my little guys is still up at least two to three times a night), and lack of sleep plus a lot of stress had caught up with me. I started feeling depressed, anxious, and short-fused. I surely didn’t want to let my emotions get the best of me but could also tell I wasn’t quite myself.
Dealing with out-of-whack hormones and postpartum depression.
Hormones can shift and change, especially after pregnancy, and all of a sudden you’re not sleeping or eating enough and trying to do way too many things. I could barely concentrate or focus, and some days I just wanted to cry. Postpartum depression can occur anytime after giving birth, not just in those first few weeks. As a matter of fact, some moms can experience postpartum depression months or even years after having a child.
I don’t know if I had true postpartum depression, but I do know that I wasn’t my usual self. I turned to all of the things that usually to make me happy: yoga, meditation, talking to my mom or a good friend, the list goes on. And yet, I was still a little down. I'm not the type to take medication, so I decided I would start seeing a therapist possibly when I returned from leading a yoga retreat in Montana.
Ahead of leaving for that trip, I was so nervous about leaving all of my boys for four days—but I was also excited for an adventure and to teach a group of lovely students and experience an incredible spa and resort. I thought that was just what the doctor ordered.
Taking on the aerial ropes course.
On the very first morning at the ranch before I even taught my first class, I signed up to take an aerial ropes course. I had never done anything like this in the past and thought, Why not? I was driven out to the course along with a lovely family from Utah. When I got to the course, I looked up at the 30-foot-high ropes and thought, No way. Yet I was embarrassed to show how nervous I was and especially when even the 6-year-old girl from the family was gearing up in her harness and ready to go.
The course was all spread out with intricate steps and rope walls, tires, uneven boards, and obstacle courses way up high. I took a deep breath and started my ascent on the first uneven rope ladder. I couldn’t think of anything but my breath and where to place my hands and feet next. I kept my core strong and my mind focused. I couldn’t multitask; I couldn’t think about all of the things I needed to do; I couldn’t give up on myself. Once I started my way across a huge course, I had to keep going and trust I could do it.
I stood up at the top looking out at the beautiful Montana skyline; breathing hard and feeling so alive, I realized there was nothing to be down about. I was uplifted. I had restored my faith in myself as a strong woman and a mother. Having children is tough as shit; you can read as many books as you want to, but nothing truly prepares you for it. You just have to dive in and go with the flow. Trust the process and breathe and let go, as you stay focused and strong.
Choosing the outdoors.
My yoga practice has always been indoors, for the most part. But through this experience, I realized just how wonderful the fresh open air felt for my body, mind, and spirit. I knew I couldn’t take a huge aerial ropes course among a forest of trees in Montana back to New York with me, but I could make it a goal to get outside daily. To go for walks, breathe in the fresh air, get out of my own way, and choose to be happy amid the craziness in my life right now.
I made it out of my funk, and I make it a point to stay on top of my moods and not let myself fall into the blues. I still journal, meditate, and practice yoga daily, and whenever I get a chance, I play outside. I climb the jungle gyms or trees with my sons; I put my feet in the dirt or sandbox; I take us for walks and make it a point to breathe in the fresh open air. Changing my altitude changed my attitude, and whenever I feel stressed, depressed, or anxious, I remind myself of how high I climbed and how bravely I crossed crazy uneven bridges and ropes holding myself up the entire time.
Interested in learning more about Kristin? Here's what she ate in a day while she was pregnant.