Anxiety is hard to manage. When you have children, your stress levels can skyrocket. You have to get it under control to stay sane.
Fortunately, you have plenty of holistic methods that help — often as much as medication or therapy. Here are eight ways I deal with anxiety as a mom. I hope these tips help you, too.
1. I Maintain a Healthy Social Circle
Loneliness can kill. A national cross-sectional survey found an association between patients who reported feeling isolated and increased mortality from all causes.
I don’t know what I would do without my other mom friends. While it’s challenging for us to all coordinate our schedules to meet up as a group, I make a point to get together at least once a week with someone outside of my family for tea or a nice partner workout. It helps us both feel more connected and lets us shuffle off our mortal mom-coats for a minute and celebrate ourselves, not our roles in life.
2. I Practice Breath Control
Regulating your breath (like in childbirth) can help calm physiological processes.
Focusing on your inhalations and exhalations alone helps you slow down your pace of breathing. Techniques such as 2-to-1 breathing, where you exhale for twice as long as you inhale, can further help to relax you. Navy SEALS use a method where they inhale for four, pause for as many beats, then exhale for the same count to calm their panic in crises.
3. I Choose My Mental Battles Carefully
As a mom, you see danger everywhere. I used to drive myself mad every time my kids strayed from my sight, but I learned to pick my mental battles more carefully as they got older.
For example, I could lie awake tossing and turning all night, wondering if the parents at my child’s sleepover drink or take drugs in front of the kids. Conversely, I could simply meet with them before the big night and assuage my fears.
4. I Check-in With My Body
You know that you get irritable when you have a cold. However, minor aches and pains can sometimes leave you snapping at loved ones without realising the underlying cause. My back might groan after a day at my desk, but taking it out on my family only creates more problems.
Therefore, I’ve learned to check in with my body regularly. I made mindful body scans a part of my routine meditation practice. These days, I do them anytime and anywhere, taking a few moments to breathe into tight areas and ease mild pain.
5. I Move When I Don’t Feel Like It
Who hasn’t had those days where going to the gym seems like a chore? Yet, I’ve also discovered that pushing through often makes me feel better than remaining stationary. I trick myself into moving even when I don’t feel like it.
How? I tell myself that I will work out for only five minutes. I give myself full permission to stop if I still feel lousy and sluggish after that time. However, I usually find the energy to keep going once my blood starts flowing.
6. I Eat Healthfully — Most of the Time
I used to go to diet extremes. Sometimes, I’d throw caution to the wind, declaring, “life’s short. Eat a donut.” Other times, I’d go on strict diets, eschewing everything that didn’t fit the meal plan until I went slightly crazy and binged.
Now, I practice the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating. I eat foods that fall into my approved “healthy” categories 80% of the time. For the remaining 20%, I indulge in whatever I like.
7. I Stay Away From Alcohol
A funny thing happened to me during pregnancy. Despite the increased pressure with a new life on the way, I felt less anxious. It didn’t take more than one or two postpartum cocktails to discern the reason.
Alcohol messes with all kinds of neurotransmitters. While it initially decreases feelings of tension, it comes roaring back with a vengeance when you sober up and your brain tries to return to homeostasis. You could find yourself feeling even more tense and irritable — and craving another drink to take the edge off.
For me, it’s simply easier to pass on the anxious feelings altogether. I found healthier ways to relax.
8. I Meditate
Although it may look like I’m doing nothing, my meditation time is the most critical part of my day. Without it, I wouldn’t function nearly as well in daily life.
You don’t need anything except three to five minutes of quiet time each day to start. If you sit silently in mindfulness, you’ll amaze yourself with how long even that short span seems the first few times. If you struggle, guided meditations can help you find zen, and they’re available free on YouTube.
Moms, How Do You Deal With Anxiety as a Parent?
The eight tips above help me deal with anxiety as a mom. I hope that this advice will likewise help you decrease your stress levels.
This article was written by Kara Reynolds, editor of Momish