My Top 3 Tips for Cultivating Emotional Wellness in Your Pelvic Health Recovery

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Our Pelvic Health and Mental Health are inextricably linked! Read more on this here: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction with Depression and Anxiety…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Your emotional wellness should be a PRIMARY part of your pelvic health recovery.

So….What are my Top 3 Tips for Cultivating Emotional Wellness in your Pelvic Health Recovery? Let’s get started!

#1 Self-Compassion

This is f***ing hard! It is important to take some time and space to acknowledge that this is hard and that this process can come with physical and emotional pain. There is no getting around the fact that this is hard. The physical struggles associated with pelvic floor dysfunction are typically invisible to outside observers. People experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction also often describe feeling shame or embarrassment and therefore often try to hide their discomfort from others.

How isolating is that??? This often leaves us without the space or support to grieve over the changes in our body or find empathy in the face of this adversity.

When our internal distress doesn’t mesh with the messaging we are getting from the outside world that all is well, how do we reconcile that?

  • Our self-talk, that inner voice, can become critical and harsh. “Suck it up”; “Quit whining”; “at least you have a healthy baby”; “You should be grateful”
  • We may feel that that inner distress is unfounded. We can get caught up with fighting against it or trying to get rid of it…But… sadly, no matter how hard you fight… it will still be f***ing hard.

Human connection is an important ingredient in health. Find those people in your life (or online!) who will listen and show you love without telling you to “look on the bright side”

But also…learning how to do this for yourself is such an important skill. Check out Kristin Neff’s website for a plethora of exercises and meditations (if that’s your jam!) for cultivating self-compassion. My favourite is finding a simple mantra (that you connect with) during difficult moments:

  1. This is a difficult moment; or this is painful; or this is hard
  2. I am not alone in this; this is common; a lot of people struggle with pelvic floor dysfunction; a lot of people struggle with anxiety or depression or grief or body image (insert the challenges that you are facing) and pelvic floor dysfunction.
  3. I will be kind to myself in this moment.

#2 Body Positivity

Many women find it helpful to find reasons to be grateful for their body in the midst of dysfunction and that’s ok.

However, you may not be in a place where you can find gratitude…you may feel angry, you may have feelings of resentment…and that’s ok too!

The term, “Body Positivity” is often misused and misunderstood. For more on this, check out these great articles: https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/05/body-pos-definition-undebatable/;  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truth-about-exercise-addiction/201608/what-does-body-positivity-actually-mean

Please know that by body positivity, I don’t mean that you have to love and embrace your pelvic floor dysfunction. Please know that I don’t mean that you have to love and embrace the way that your body looks in this moment.

What I mean by cultivating body positivity is exploring the possibility that your self-worth is separate from what is going on with you physically, in this moment.

Self-Compassion is integral to cultivating body positivity. A next step may be exploring your relationship with you body, with nutrition, and with exercise. What messages have shaped how you have interacted with these components of your health? Where are these messages coming from? Have these messages been helping or hurting your overall health?

Next, where do we go from here? What are YOUR values (beyond this messaging from the outside world) when it comes to your body, your movement, your nutrition, and your physical health? What is truly important to you and what are the steps that you need to take to show your body love in a meaningful way, that is consistent with YOUR values?

THIS IS A PROCESS! THESE CAN BE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS! Just starting to reflect takes courage and is a great place to start, IF IT FEELS SAFE!

If these questions don’t feel safe, working with a mental health professional could be critical in helping you to find a starting point and direction!

SOMETIMES, pelvic floor dysfunction, can even serve as a wake-up call that these questions need some consideration.

OK Confession Time…# 3 is a BIGGIE that I am still wrapping my head around! I want to do it justice & have therefore decided to save #3 for a Part # 3 in this little series on the connection between your emotional wellness and pelvic health!

Stay tuned for next week’s post exploring what MINDFULNESS is (HINT…YOU DON’T HAVE TO MEDITATE TO BE MINDFUL! Fewf!!!!) and why cultivating Mindfulness can be a critical component of your pelvic health journey.

In the mean time, get in touch for help with making your emotional wellness a priority in your recovery!

Book an appointment!

Lara Desrosiers OT Reg. (Ont.)

Occupational Therapists, Psychotherapist

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