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When anxiety strikes, it can prevent you from being the mother you want to be, right? You’re unable to be present with your child, your mind is somewhere else, and you feel like you are a captive to your thoughts! After all, you’re supposed to be the grown-up right? But the truth is, in those anxious moments you morph into a child…left feeling totally powerless and vulnerable. Then what happens? The self-loathing, the self-hatred, the self-blame begins.
You want to make it stop, but you can’t. You want desperately to return to your old self, but those anxious thoughts consume you and create a feeling of powerlessness…often for what seems like forever. Sometimes the anxiety passes in a matter of minutes, but sometimes it takes hours, even days.
So how do you learn how to live a life full of fulfillment, joy, and peace while being a mother? That’s the million-dollar question that every mother wants to know…and believe me, if I had a simple answer, I would probably be a bazillionare. The hard truth is that motherhood is anything but simple and when you also struggle with anxiety, it can feel like you are going to drown at any moment.
How to Tackle Motherhood and Anxiety
The good news is you are not alone and more importantly…YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOTHER! Becoming a mother can be one of the most incredible journeys, but also the most life-changing in a scary way. Nothing says “get ready for a lifetime of unpredictability” more than having a child…am I right? And what is one of the biggest reasons why anxiety gets the best of us? You guessed it…unpredictability.
So, here are some tips on how you can try and make life as a mother a little more predictable and a little less daunting…remember, these things will not take away your anxiety completely, but may help you to feel more in control of it.
Try to find creative ways to relax inside the home
- Try Yoga – You Tube has a variety of yoga videos that you can do right in your living room. Yoga with Adriene is one of my favorites!
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing (or ‘belly breathing’). This is a type of a breathing exercise that helps strengthen your diaphragm, an important muscle that helps you breathe. This breathing exercise is also sometimes called belly breathing.
- Find at least 5 minutes (or more) to meditate (this has been proven to help with anxiety)
- Try playing a relaxing song and focusing on your breath
- There are also meditation apps that are amazing for anxiety including Calm, Insight Timer, & Happify
- Practice Self-Care and DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT!
- Take a hot relaxing bath, make time to go out with your friends, watch your favorite tv show, take a short walk around your neighborhood.
Don’t be afraid to ASK FOR HELP!
- Ask your partner to take the child out for an hour so you can de-stress.
- Ask your parents, in-laws, sibling, or close friend (if possible) to come over to be with the child so you can have some time to yourself (even if its just to take a nap!)
- If you can afford it, don’t be afraid to hire outside help. This does not mean you love your child any less! This means you just want to be the best mother you can be, which is more than any child could ask for!
- ALSO: if you feel like you are becoming truly debilitated by your anxiety on a daily basis and it is interfering with your ability to take care of your child, it may be time to seek help from a professional counselor in your area. To find a licensed counselor in your area, go to Psychologytoday.com.
Try to recognize when you are ruminating or worrying excessively…especially when it comes to mom guilt. Any of these thoughts sound familiar?
Do I play with him enough? Do I read him enough books? Am I feeding him enough? Is he gaining enough weight? Am I handling his tantrums correctly? Am I a good enough mom for him?
- First, try to notice when you are getting carried away with a particular thought…ask yourself: is there evidence for the truthfulness of the thought?
- Next, notice the emotion that comes with the thought and label it (anger, sadness, guilt, frustration, resentment, grief, etc).
- If you find yourself stuck in a negative thought…notice it without judgment and try gently redirecting it to a more rational (or positive) thought. REMEMBER: We all have negative thoughts!
- Also…it can be helpful to try and get busy doing something active or productive when your brain feels like it wont shut off! Go for a walk, do the dishes or some light housework, call a supportive person, catch up on some reading or work you were behind on.
Even if the anxiety is dormant, it seems to always be somewhere inside of you, right?…just itching to invade your life! But time does move forward, and you are stronger than you think! What can be the most healing is working towards acceptance. There may be times when your anxiety is worse than other times… and this is normal. Try your best to sit with the anxiety and remind yourself that the feeling is only temporary, and it WILL pass over time.
Alison Seponara, MS, LPC is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice located in Lafayette Hill, PA. Alison specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness with women who struggle with anxiety related to a life transition including divorce, motherhood, death of a loved one, relationship struggles, chronic illness, career change, and more. Alison also works closely with children and families with special needs including those who suffer from anxiety, ADHD, and autism. Along with her private practice, Alison has created an anxiety healing Instagram account with over 25,000 followers! Find anxiety healing tips, tools, and courses by following her on Instagram at @theanxietyhealer. Alison’s mission is to help those from around the world feel less alone in their anxiety and offer awareness and education in mental health. Alison also offers coaching services to other mental health advocates/entrepreneurs in which she works with them to build their social media presence by helping to create an effective and compelling brand.
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