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Posted on 10/24/2021 in Anxiety Disorders

How do I manage my own anxiety while parenting my child?

How do I manage my own anxiety while parenting my child?

Question:  

I'm a mom with anxiety and sometimes it's just so hard to be the parent I want to be.  I feel like I'm failing my family.  What can I do to manage my anxiety?

Answer:

Parenting with anxiety can be hard, overwhelming and sometimes terrifying. While a certain level of anxiety is completely normal and may even help moms stay alert and attentive, anxiety can snowball in extremely damaging and unhealthy ways. The unfortunate truth is that anxiety can prevent moms from being the parent they want to be. 

As a mom with anxiety, please do not feel guilty or ashamed about your anxiety. It’s common to feel anxious about your anxiety as that will only generally only make things worse. Here are some actionable ideas to help you reclaim your mental balance and find your peace once again. Know that freedom from anxiety is possible, and you can restore your internal balance with the power of self-care.

 How to incorporate self-care into your life.

 Step 1: Identify, set, and enforce your boundaries.    
 

The number one most important way to practice self-care is to know and enforce your boundaries. We tend to think of our energy like a fountain, as if our emotional reservoir recycles and replenishes itself on an endless loop. The truth is your mental, emotional, and physical energy is more like a bank account, and if you are a Mom coping with anxiety then it is very likely your energy bank account is overdrawn.

Step 2: Fill the space your boundaries create with self-care.

Self-care is not a selfish luxury. Self-care is a necessity that will empower you with the strength, courage, and energy you need to be the mother you want to be. It is simply impossible for anyone to take care of others if they are running on empty. The good news is that taking time for yourself to practice self-care does not have to be all or nothing. Here are some ideas of ways you can begin making small deposits back into your Mommy bank account:  

  1. Look for the small moments  the little breaks. When a short window of time presents itself, try to resist the sense of obligation to catch up on something else. Leave the work undone and take advantage of a few quiet moments to rest and veg.
     
  2. Ask your partner for help  dont wait for them to offer. Ask your partner or a trusted family member or friend to get the kids ready for school one day while you go for a run or sleep in. Consider alternate schedules for taking turns with morning routine vs night routine so that there’s time and space each day for self-care.
      
  3. Get a babysitter for a few hours each week so that you can take a nap, go to lunch with girlfriends, get a massage, or finally go to that hair appointment or nail session you’ve been wanting. Or if the constant clamor of interaction is a source of stress, use the few hours to go get a cup of coffee or tea at your favorite café and just sit there and enjoy it in peace and quiet.
      
  4. Find ways to seek out silence and quiet. Even if it is just a ten minute walk each morning or evening, find space for your mind to process your feelings and listen to the needs of your body just like you listen to the needs of everyone else.  

Step 3: Become your own Mother-nurture yourself.

Many Mothers confess that they will often go a whole day without eating or drinking simply because they forget. As a result, they get to the end of the day and may find themselves binge eating a snack they really don’t even want or need. Sound familiar? If so, please be kind to yourself and include yourself in the care you extend to your family. 

Think about it. You wouldn’t let your children go a whole day without eating or drinking. You would not fail to take your child to their doctor appointment if they needed it. And if your child had anxiety, wouldn’t you try to love them through that? Extend yourself the same care you give to your children, and dont wait for the right time to take time for yourself. 

The Bottom Line

The best way to cope with anxiety is to create intentional space for self-care throughout the day. Stay hydrated, get some movement in, keep the fridge stocked with a few small nutritious snacks throughout the day like applesauce, string cheese, or nuts. Line up bottles of water on the counter for yourself every morning and keep taking sips throughout the day. 

The reality is that getting routine physical exercise, going to your doctor appointments for your lab work, and taking care of yourself is part of setting a good example for your children. Being a “Good Mother” does not mean you have to live with an overdrawn energy bank account. Take comfort in the fact that children are best served by mothers who bravely model self-care for their children.

If you are a Mom who finds it difficult to manage your anxiety, please know you don’t have to suffer in silence. Connect with one of our counselors today to get support. 

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