6 Ways to Handle Anxiety as a Mom
When I was a new mom, eight years ago, there wasn't a lot I worried about. I let my daughter sleep on her stomach at three months old because that's how she rolled by herself, I let her hang out with me in bed without a fear of co-sleeping, and I only panicked a little bit when her grandma snuck her her first bites of McDonald's at barely a year old.
In some ways, I was completely clueless as a first-time mother, but in other ways, looking back, I was also a lot happier. It seems crazy to think about now, but back then, I just didn't know a lot of the things I know. Everywhere I turn these days, I am inundated with new dangers for me and my kids:
Killer clowns on the loose! BPA in bottles! Chemicals in the air! Rear-facing until college! SIDS! Alligators! People kidnapping children in broad daylight! Shootings! Global warming! Dresser deaths!
The scary part about all of those concerns is that they are actually real concerns. I really am worried about all of those things and it's so incredibly hard to balance the reality of dangers literally everywhere with actually living. How do I live my life and be a good mom and teach my kids how to live life if I'm constantly scared of everything that could go wrong?
Part of me feels that in reading all of the scary news stories and sharing them and acknowledging all of the horrible things that have happened to other families, that I am not only respecting their stories and losses but that in a way, I am protecting myself, too. If I am aware of the dangers, they are less likely to happen, right?
Unfortunately, I don't think that's always the case. So I find myself at a weird spot as a mom, when my worries and fears are honest-to-goodness starting to affect my mental health. I'm just so darn anxious all of the time that it's 1) affecting my ability to be a good mom and 2) affecting my ability to be a good person for myself.
So what to do? I've been looking into it and here are a few strategies I am either trying right now to manage anxiety or hope to implement in the near future:
Meditate. Headspace has a great app and guided meditations to help newbies such as myself get started on using mediation to reduce anxiety. I've done a few of their guided practices and was surprised by how much it really does help.
Exercise. I've become a huge fan of doing Crossfit-type workouts and lifting weights lately, and I swear to you, it's like therapy. There is something so therapeutic about completely putting everything else out of your mind and just focusing on how heavy that darn weight is for 30 minutes.
Walk it out. Walking is also hugely beneficial for managing anxiety. Not only does it give you a boost of endorphins, but it helps clears your mind with lots of fresh air and sunshine too.
Slow down at work. If you can, that is. This isn't possible for everyone, but if you've been taking on extra projects or extra work on a regular basis, it may be time to give yourself a break. I've found that slowing down and really listening to what my body needs at the moment, whether that be a nap or just sitting and watching the sky, can really help.
Be social. I know, I know, the last thing you feel like doing when you”re anxious is being social, but it's important to connect with others to remind you that you really aren't alone. I think anxiety can be a tricky little demon by trying to make you believe that no one feels the same way you do, but it's a lie. Many people struggle with anxiety, because it really is a crazy world we live in sometimes. So banishing the darkness is best done with the help of friends.
Talk to a professional. I am also exploring therapy because, at the end of the day, we all need help sometimes and if therapy can help you live a better life, I am 100% supportive. Especially if you've gone through a loss or stressful experience that is triggering anxiety, talking to a professional who can point you to resources that can help, such as support groups, medication, or therapy, is important.
How do you manage your anxiety?