As soon as we become parents, parental stress becomes a part of us. It’s natural to worry about the people we love. But when it comes to kids, since we are the ones raising them and teaching them everything, we worry more.
Learning to manage anxiety is important to bring out your best as a parent.
If we can’t handle stress as a mother, it affects our energy and the ability to function healthily.
Mom anxiety affects not only us but our kids too. It’s hard for kids to live with a parent who has anxiety.
So for our own sake and for our kids, let’s learn how to deal with stress as a mom.
1. GROW AWARENESS
The first step in dealing with stress is becoming aware of it when we experience anxiety.
Anxiety manifests outward as headache, stomach pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, insomnia, and other sleep issues.
If you experience these common symptoms, it could mean your brain is working hard to think about all those worst-case scenarios constantly.
So when you catch your mind racing, know that it’s anxiety. And slowly try to bring your mind to the present.
One thing I like to do when I find myself losing my mind in such thoughts is – bringing awareness to my feet (or hands). I focus my attention on my soles and then suddenly, those disturbing thoughts are gone.
Like all other habits, anxiety is also an addictive habit. In his book “Breaking the habit of being yourself”, Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about how stress is addictive.
We think we dislike being stressed, but as we get used to it, we get addicted to the stress-induced emotions and it becomes a part of our daily thought process.
It can be changed by installing a better way of thinking.
Make breaking the negative thought cycle and bringing your focus to the present (mindfulness), a habit.
Remember what we own is only this moment right here, and we don’t have certainty about the future.
Instead of being afraid of the unknown, try to embrace it. Realize that not only bad things but good things will also happen in the future.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT FACTS
After entering the era of social media, parents are worried more than ever. Why?
It’s the speed at which news spreads and the advance in technology that helps us to know what’s happening in any corner of the world.
This creates fear. Our minds are getting opened to the idea of the worst possibilities of events that can happen to our kids if we let them out of our sight.
The truth is, anything can happen to any of us at any time. We can only minimize the risks but we cannot forever prevent misfortunes 100 percent of the time.
Before restricting kids from doing something, we should do our research and learn statistics.
When doing research, we can learn what the possible dangers are for kids of different ages. And then we can make plans on what we can do to minimize the risks.
It will also help to educate kids and teach them what to do in case of possible dangers.
When parents are too anxious, it can affect the freedom of children too. We hover above them to protect them, but it ultimately affects their ability to become fully functioning healthy adults.
3. STOP READING
Once we understand the risks and take all the necessary steps, we need to stop reading about them.
Reading, listening, and talking about it increases fear in our minds and emotional addiction continues.
Stay away from people who causes fear in your minds. You can tell them how it causes anxiety for you, and excuse yourself from such conversations.
As an anxious mom, I know how I used to control each and every little detail in my children’s life.
Like, not letting them go out with anyone else other than myself, so as to avoid any mishaps.
Another reason could be that I didn’t trust anyone else to take care of them as much as I do.
But later on, it seriously started affecting my mental health. I started realizing how trying to manipulate and control every scenario and freaking out when things don’t happen as I think, is a terrible way to live.
Then I started making a mental differentiation between things that I can control and which I can’t.
I slowly started accepting what I can’t control and try not to think about it.
When such scenarios happen, I tell myself, “I have no control over this. Trying to control will only reck my mental health and my kids’ freedom. Thinking about this is affecting my mental peace now. Therefore I am trusting in the Divine (insert whatever you believe in) and letting this go.”
4. LEARN TO LET GO
Learning to let go releases so much burden. It is the antidote to wanting to be in control all the time.
Anxious people generally want to control the outcomes because they are too afraid of the alternatives happening. Their brains, when in overdrive, start to make a mountain out of a molehill.
But trying to understand what you can control and what you can’t is so empowering.
When you are used to clutching so hard, it won’t be easy to let go. But gradually you can train yourself to think this new way.
Just think about it. If your child doesn’t want to eat the veggies, what you can do is educate them about why we need to eat veggies and expose them to different varieties of it regularly.
But you cannot forcefully put it in their mouth. It might work in the beginning, but as kids grow up, it hurts their egos.
So, there you learn to differentiate between what you can control and what you can’t. It can be hurtful when kids don’t do what you think is good for them.
But trying to control them has far more side effects in the future.
Another thing to let go of is – perfection. Perfectionism and anxiety disorders go hand in hand.
When you want everything to be done perfectly, it can be harmful to kids. Since they are learning, they make mistakes all the time and they do messy work.
Learn to be okay with average results and avoid over criticizing them for making mistakes, as it’s your parental anxiety that’s making you demand perfection.
5. CHANT MANTRAS
One of the ways I cope with mom anxiety is by chanting positive mantras or affirmations. Affirmations help to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
They also help in getting rid of the negativity bias many of us experience, especially people with perfectionism and anxiety.
My favorite mantras are:
- I trust and let go
- I only have this moment in my hand, I will face the future when it comes
- I can’t control what others think or do, therefore I think about only what I can do
- I always do my best and leave the rest to the Universe (or God)
- I am not my anxiety, it’s something I have and I can overcome it
- Anxiety is here to visit. I see you and acknowledge you. Thanks for your concern, but at this moment, I choose peace and calm.
- What I am worried about is not here yet, I will face it when it comes. Right now, I choose to enjoy this moment.
- It will be done, one thing at a time. I am choosing to focus on the task at hand
The important thing to remember about anxiety is that you can’t get rid of it by replacing them with simply positive thoughts.
When you feel anxious, you have to acknowledge its presence and accept it’s there. Fighting it will only increase anxiety.
When you acknowledge your emotions, they feel accepted and are ready to leave.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
Mind and body are interrelated.
When one is sick, the other gets sick too.
Lack of nutrition, sleep, and exercise can also cause anxiety.
Sleep deprivation has been proven to cause anxiety. Studies show that people with chronic insomnia are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
And getting proper vitamins and minerals is essential to maintain overall health.
Being deficient in certain minerals and vitamins can affect your physical and mental energy and your body’s health along with the biochemical balance in your brain, resulting in anxiety. It can also increase the levels you’re currently experiencing.
Similarly, exercise helps to release neurochemicals that boost our mood.
Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress.
In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
7. REMEMBER TO BREATHE
If we are alive now, we are breathing.
But this involuntary act of breathing is not enough when you are an anxious mom who feels overwhelmed by the number of tasks you need to do on a daily basis.
When you feel overwhelmed due to stress, take a moment to take a few deep breaths.
This instantly brings calm and helps to center your emotions.
You feel grounded and come back to the present moment which helps in reducing anxiety and stress. After you take a few breaths, you can chant the mantras above (point no. 5) to release stress.
Here are 10 breathing exercises you can do to alleviate motherhood anxiety and stress.
8. REST AND REJUVENATE
The anxiety after becoming a mother mainly happens due to the overwhelming amount of chores you have to do on a daily basis.
You are balancing chores, kids, school, work, and everything under the sun that has to be taken care of.
It’s natural to feel stressed. A minimum amount of stress is okay if you can function despite it. But if you tend to panic and lose focus and end up in mental paralysis, your productivity plummets.
Bringing a balance is essential to not succumb to stress. Taking time out to rest and rejuvenate does not waste your time, but it, in fact, helps to increase productivity and start with a fresh mind.
Being immersed in the daily tasks and forgetting to have fun will increase stress and anxiety.
9. TALK TO YOUR FAMILY
When it comes to parenting, they say it takes a village to raise a child. As a person fortunate enough to have family around to help in raising kids, I know this is true.
But it also has some side effects when it comes to parenting styles.
If you already are prone to anxiety, it can be hard for you to tolerate what others do with your kids – be it regarding the sugary stuff kids are fed or letting our kids get more screen time when we have our own restrictions in place. And it can increase your stress and anxiety levels.
What you can do here is to talk openly about your anxiety and let people know that their actions make it difficult for you.
Set boundaries and let others know what you expect.
It will also help in connecting with other moms and discuss your problems. There are a few helpful positive parenting Facebook groups you can join, where you will get actionable tips.
One such free FB group I like is Positive Parenting Village. Try joining this group and go through the threads or ask questions to receive support.
Most of us go through similar parenting problems so sharing it can release some mental burden for you. But make sure you don’t exchange scary stories that can aggravate stress.
Instead, seek solutions and share what works for each other.
10. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
Postpartum depression and anxiety happen as a result of hormone fluctuations and can last even months or years.
If you try all the above techniques and still feel excessive anxiety and worry, seek professional help.
Thankfully, people are now more at ease now about mental health stigma and shame. Mental health problems are curable and therefore do not hesitate from seeking help when you need it.
I hope you find relief from your anxiety as a mom by implementing these techniques. There is no magic pill and you have to keep working at it to control the anxiety habit. The good news is you can control your worries as a mother if you keep working on them.
More posts on parenting:
– How to control anger with kids and become a calm mom
– How to raise resilient kids
– How to discipline kids without crushing their hearts (15 positive discipline techniques that work)
– 10 things all girls need from their mom
– 10 ways to thrive as an introverted mom