How to Tackle Motherhood and Anxiety

exhausted woman sitting on a couch possibly depressed or suffering from anxiety

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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.

When anxiety strikes, it can prevent you from being the mother you want to be. You are left feeling totally powerless and vulnerable. So now what? Here are some tips on how to tackle motherhood and anxiety

BIO

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.

How to Find Alison Seponara, MS, LPC:

Website: AlisonSeponara.com
Instagram: @theanxietyhealer
Facebook: Alison Seponara LPC
Email: AlisonSeponaraLPC@gmail.com

 

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Hello There!

I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. Hi Alison! Beautiful blog. Motherhood is a divine gift. As amazing as it is, becoming a parent for the first time can be challenging. Thanks for all the helpful tips. Yoga and hot relaxing bath is nice activity. Thanks and keep posting!

  2. Ahhhh anxiety is the worst! One of the main reasons I’m a one and done mom lol. Mother hood is definitely challenging, but as long a shot you take care of yourself you will be fine

  3. Such an important post to share and great tips here as well! It’s not easy but with the support of others and a little self-love and care, it gets easier.

  4. Self care really does help- but it’s hard not to feel guilty about it especially with little ones around! Thanks for the tips x

  5. I find myself stressed out a lot, and it is good to have some techniques to make things go a little more smoothly. I do feel overwhelmed when it comes to so many responsibilities and trying to make everyone happy.

  6. I do think asking for help and not trying to tackle everything on your own is so very important. Realize you have a partner (hopefully) there and ask them to step in from time to time. And finding ways to stay in the present and be mindful is so very important as well.

  7. I was just having a conversation with someone about anxiety and they assumed a person could just turn it on and off. So many people really need to be educated on what anxiety really is.

  8. I couldn’t agree more! I sometimes take a break inside my closet and compose myself. It’s a struggle. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Deep breath is a good way to relax and chill, it also helps to smooth my heartbeat too. I find it very useful especially during my PMS period.

  10. This is a great issue to share with us because no matter what age we are as a parent there is some level of anxiety that we may experience when it comes to our children.

  11. I started practising self-care last year after feeling bogged down with parenting (my youngest went from being super angelic to a complete nightmare overnight) and I’ve got to say, I feel so much better for it. I never realised how important it was to make time for myself on a regular basis!

    Louise x

  12. Having my ME time is very important to me where I either watch TV or play my fave app. I also meditate which really helps me relax.

  13. I had to learn the self care thing the hard way — not feeling guilty about taking time for myself. That was a huge learning curve for me.

  14. I have anxiety about work right now, just a little. So many new things taking place. Being proactive to tackle it helps.

  15. Thanks for these useful tips! Yoga and meditation are my life savers when it comes to anxiety, especially since I´ve become a mom!

  16. I love this post and think these are awesome tips!! It is one reason why I started up with yoga, helps out so much and I feel a lot better after a good workout or yoga session!

    Kileen
    cute & little

  17. I have terrible anxiety and I have recently been working on a mind over matter approach to it. I still take medication and everything but I have learned what triggers me, and how to silence that inside voice that tells me I’m not good enough. It’s a process. I wish I had been strong enough to put in the work when my kids were little. There are so many things I missed out on due to my anxiety.

  18. Yes being a mother is wonderful at the same time stressful, anxiety kick in always, thanks for sharing the tip to control it.

  19. While I agree with these coping mechanisms, I do NOT want anyone to feel like they feel guilty for needing the help of medications. I know that in order for me to function as a human — as a MOTHER — I needed my lexapro. And I still do.

    1. I definitely agree! We all have to do what’s best for us and if that includes medication, that’s totally ok. I was on Lexapro for a long time as well, until recently.

  20. Love this. I have really bad anxiety. Not towards motherhood or anything but it doesn’t help with some motherly things. So this was great to read. I do find creative ways to relax at home so at least I’m doing that right!

  21. This is such an excellent, comprehensive article on a topic that is important to moms everywhere. Whether your children are little or older these tips are timeless.

  22. Thanks for these tips. You’re so right when you say that we are not bad mothers. We are not, but tend to find a way to blame ourselves over anything.

  23. “Not feeling bad about self-care.” Oh boy, that one is Grande. BB remembers being a single mom and stressing everytime she wanted to do a pedicure. To this dia it still brings back memorias. Gracias for a very well thought out and necessary post. Babushka knows just who to send it to.

  24. Motherhood can really be stressful at times and finding a way to relax at home is one way we can cope at it.

  25. Great tips to moms who are struggling. I’m not a mother yet (hope to be one day) but these are definitely things I will be keeping in mind.

  26. I really enjoy reading this post. Your tips are very helpful. The mental state of all Moms is so important.

  27. Anxiety is so difficult to deal with, let alone when you are a mother! This is a great post and the ideas are helpful!

  28. Always can find great mom tips here. Today yet another great share on motherhood that many new moms will find useful!

  29. This post has come at the right time. My daughter in law is going to be a mom very soon and I’m a bit scared that she may have anxiety issues as she wants to be control of everything. However, these tips will be useful if needed.

  30. Wow, what an amazing post. I feel like it was written for me! I definitely feel the mom guilt and whether you’re a SAHM, WAHM, or you work out of the house (don’t know if there’s an acronym for this haha), I think it’s inescapable. Love these simple, yet effective tips to battle this!

  31. Anxiety can be so difficult as it is, what more being a mother with anxiety. These are some great ideas that are helpful!

  32. Motherhood and Anxiety can be linked together. It’s really important to be organized so you’ll be less stress! Also, make a journal to write your feelings.

  33. These are great tips for moms who are struggling. It can easily feel like our problems are only felt by us and to feel alone when we struggle but posts like this can help someone feel like they have a connection.

  34. It’s so nice of you Heather to have Alison speaking about motherhood and anxiety here! I will surely check her out.

  35. Motherhood is a delicate but beautiful period. It’s not easy, but there is always a way to make it better!

  36. Fatherhood and anxiety are the same for me, I am the primary caregiver in the house. Parenting a teen in NYC is not easy, there are far too many ways for the kid to make bad decisions, and I have to guide him. It is very stressful, I am too anxious to sleep most nights.

  37. Yoga and meditation are always effective for me. I wish that I had more time for those things this summer!

  38. Motherhood can be so stressful, especially if you already have anxiety. These are great tips for tackling anxiety while being a parent.

  39. I think these are some really good ideas. I suffer from anxiety at times too. It can be really difficult to handle. I really like some of your ideas.

  40. I love these tips and suggestions. You are so thorough and so thoughtful. Love reading your posts every single time.

  41. I’m anxious about most things, but motherhood is definitely at the top of the list. Thanks for this post!

  42. Motherhood is tough and it really puzzles me when some people still regard women as the “weaker sex.” These tips are so spot on. I think the best way that worked for me was to have an open conversation with my spouse. I let him know what I felt before things get worse. I am fortunate that he understood what I was going through and helped me overcome my anxiety.

  43. I thought I worried a lot when my kiddo was little. That was nothing compared to the teen years!

  44. girl you are SPOT on with this my friend- def think tackling anxiety is tough but having a ‘creative spot in the house’ is key to helping me too. i just need to decompress sometimes so my bedroom is where i go.

  45. That “asking for help” piece is very big. It is so hard to do. For my friends in young motherhood, I show up at their doorstep on a Saturday afternoon, hand them tickets to a movie, and clean their house!

  46. Motherhood is the definition of anxiety, but I guess the trick is to learn new ways of coping with it and not letting it win.

  47. These are great tips!! I think all women have more anxiety when kids come into the picture, more things to worry about!!

  48. It’s not so easy many days. It’s such a huge struggle for so many women since they have so much on their shoulders outside of being a mother.

  49. I think anxiety is such a major issue for moms and I think social media makes it worse. So many moms compare themselves to what they see on the internet while not realizing that at best it’s a highlight reel…and often times, it’s extremely filtered and not completely authentic. These are great tips for helping to combat anxiety.

  50. I am all too familiar with anxiety and I had so much when i had my kids. I am lucky I had family members around to help out at that time.