Anxiety used to have a very negative connotation in my mind. I think it does in most people’s minds.
“What?! I don’t have anxiety… I’m totally cool.”
But anxiety is our brain’s way of protecting us.
It’s the butterflies you get before falling in love.
The excitement before getting on the Tower of Terror
The anticipation of your first day of college, your first job, or your first child.
And it’s the worry that keeps your kids safe.
We all have anxieties. Some people have it more than others, but it’s there.
And it’s not all bad!
Life is about learning how to cope with your anxieties, and being in control of them instead of letting them be in control of you.
I’ve had anxiety my whole life. Except when I was younger it was called “being over-emotional”.
When I had my first daughter, my anxiety heightened. I was no longer in control of my emotions, and I felt like I had no control of how I’d react to any situation. I needed extra help and guidance. It was a very hard and scary time for me.
I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know how to deal with it, and I just wanted it to go away.
Well, unfortunately, anxiety is not a “will it away” kind of thing. It might take time, medications, therapies, coping mechanisms and strategies.
And guess what? That’s okay!
I’ve been a mother for almost 6 years now, and I have 2 little kids. I have learned a lot about anxiety (in general), my own (personal) anxiety, and ways to cope with it. I’m aware of what triggers my anxiety and how to avoid those things.
* (Speaking of triggers, this is just a warning that I’m going to talk about things that trigger my anxiety, so don’t let it trigger yours!)
Here is why I get anxious with my kids, maybe you can relate.
Why I’m an Anxious Mom
My skin crawls when I hear crying. I physically can’t handle it. I contribute it to PTSD, but this has never been officially diagnosed. This is by Dr. Google.
When my daughter was little, she was colicky up until she was about 6 months old. All she did was cry, and there was nothing I could do to calm her.
We tried EVERYTHING!
When I hear my baby uncontrollably cry, I freak out.
I’m crying, my heart beats out of my chest, and I just want to run away.
This has gotten much better after some time and having my second child. I’ve also learned ways to cope.
PTSD is more common than people realize, and getting the proper help is important. If you think this is something you might suffer from talk to you doctor. (I sound like a commercial!)
I think most mothers have a constant worry in their minds about their kids. This is also called a motherly instinct.
But some people can’t help it and they take paranoia to a level where they can’t sleep, they micromanage things, and they stop their kids from different opportunities due to fear. The list goes on. This is hard.
I fall somewhere in the middle.
I have nights where I can’t sleep cause I’m worrying about my kids getting cancer, or a school shooting, or that I’m just plain screwing them up.
I also have nights where I’m constantly checking on my kids.
I can’t even read an article about choking or I won’t be feeding my kids hard foods for 2 weeks.
This is something my brain just does. I hate it, but I can’t help it. I have learned ways to calm my worries so they don’t turn into paranoia. (discussed below).
I am over-emotional.
I feel like I emotionally invest in everything super-fast.
One time I sat down during the middle of a movie and started crying at one of the scenes. My brother asked if I had ever seen the movie, I said no, but it seemed like a very intense crying part.
When I am around my kids, it is emotionally draining.
Lots of emotions, lots of anxiety, and if it becomes constant with no breaks, I go into anxiety overload, and I crash. Sometimes it can manifest as anger, sometimes tears, sometimes depression, and sometimes a full on melt down. So, I need my breaks.
I do not like the feeling of not being able to help my kids.
If they are caught in a situation where I can’t do anything, it just sucks and it gives me lots of anxiety.
An example of this is going to the dentist or getting vaccines. Even though I know it’s healthy for them, it’s hard for me to watch.
I think I was more anxious then my daughter about her going to the dentist. I usually have my husband go to these things because the rest of my day seems shot from the anxiety I feel.
Like I said, I feel SO. MANY. EMOTIONS.
I have to have time to decompress, analyze, or talk myself through something. This is usually with any life situation or decision, not just situations with my kids.
Sometimes, with kids, I don’t get those moments to decompress. When they are throwing a fit, they don’t care that I need to decompress. It’s also hard to decompress when you have kids yelling Mom, Mom, Mom every 5 seconds.
I get anxious about getting things done. This is something I’m trying to get better at: I do not have to get my to-do list done every day.
It’s so hard though.
I love lists and I love crossing things off lists even more!
If my kids constantly need me, and I’m not able to get things done, it makes me anxious and then I start to resent them for it.
I’m getting better at living in the moment and not worrying about the to-dos, but the moments I have!
Now, how do I cope with this anxiety?
How I Cope with my Anxiety: How You Can Cope with Your Anxiety
I have to schedule breaks in the day from my kids.
Right now, I’m a working mama so I get plenty of breaks which has decreased my anxiety and depression, but can also make it harder when I’m home on the weekends.
I used to feel guilty for taking breaks, like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids, but I’m a better mom when I take breaks.
I’m calmer and my anxiety doesn’t spiral into anger. I notice a complete difference when I don’t get breaks. And I try to take a break by doing something I enjoy doing.
Know what triggers it
I avoid the things that cause me anxiety.
I mean, you can’t avoid everything that gives you anxiety, otherwise you might stay inside all day.
I’m not saying to not go out of your comfort zone, but know your limits and your boundaries. Then stick to them.
Don’t say yes to something if you know you can’t do it emotionally.
BUT also try to keep finding ways to cope and handle situations, so that you can say yes more and put yourself out there.
It’s how you grow! It’s all a work in progress.
I’m learning to accept myself
I try not to be too hard on myself. You can’t be so hard on yourself.
You have anxiety, so what?!
It’s okay to be open about it, it’s okay to get help, and it’s okay if you’re still figuring it all out.
Love yourself for who you are. Don’t let your anxiety define you, and find ways to live with it!
Plus, when I love myself and worry less about what other people think of me, I have less anxiety.
Because it might never go away! And that’s okay!!!!!
I love affirmations.
AND they really work.
I used to think they were crazy, and now I use them every day. I use different ones for different situations, and I am now teaching my daughter to use them.
This is also a great way to learn how to love yourself.
Another good way to use affirmations is by challenging your bad/negative thoughts. Are they really true? Then, replace those negative thoughts with new, positive ones!
Journaling and taking time to decompress
It might seem like a little thing, but it can actually do a lot for you.
I have been journaling since I can remember.
I love to write out my feelings. It helps me “decompress”.
Take care of yourself.
You have to be in good health before you can help others.
I try to remember to do things for myself even if it’s just a few minutes a day.
A few minutes can go a long way.
Make sure you are getting proper sleep, plenty of exercise, and try to eat healthy. You don’t have to go on a full diet (whose got time for that) but you can make little choices that make a big difference.
Also proper hygiene, which I know can be hard for a mom.
Discover, find, create, (whatever you want to call it), your purpose.
Make being a mom your purpose.
Find a hobby you enjoy and learn how you can expand on it. Set goals and achieve them.
When I get into the hard day to day grind, I can rely on my blog, or other hobbies to help me through the tough times. I love it, I enjoy it, and it makes life great.
Find that one thing that drives your passion. It’s a great outlet from your anxiety and brings more meaning into your life.
Live in the moment
I try to do more of living in the moment instead of the past or the future, which is where my brain likes to spend most of its time.
I cherish the little moments, remind myself that this is what life is all about, and remember that my kids won’t be the same tomorrow.
I can do all things with Christ. I pray… A LOT! Life is impossible without Christ. Some of my most anxious times have only been calmed through prayer and pondering the scriptures.
Make Christ your best friend and someone you can rely on.
I pray everyday!
I know some of these things can take time and effort, but I also know that if I don’t make time for them, it comes to bite me later!
Just do your best!
Am I 100% good at coping with my anxiety? NO! I slack off.
But that’s okay!
It’s (and I’m) a work in progress. I still have hard days. I still get anxiety attacks and anxiety overload. But I just pick myself up again, love me for me, and try to live life to the fullest!