Do you find yourself worrying too much about your child the way that I did when I was raising my son? Is every ambulance siren your kid (or was that just me)? The hard work and unpredictability that makes parenting so rewarding can also cause a great deal of anxiety. Trust me, I have been there! Its wonderful, and difficult all at the same time. Here are some simple ways that can help bring down the anxiety and bring back more of a sense of calm.
Make a To-Do List
Ruminating on worries can cause lots of stress. Clear your mind by making a to-do list. Put down everything that needs to be done into your phone or onto a sheet of paper, and as you write them down, visualize yourself removing this task from your mind onto the list.
Watch Your Language
Many times parents believe things will get better when their children move on to the next phase of their maturity. However, the truth is that the worry will continue until you change your pattern of thought. To do this, watch the language you use to describe things. Don’t use phrases such as, “this will be a disaster if I don’t get it done on time” or “I’ll die of embarrassment if I forget.”
Also change thoughts of “I have to” to “I want to”. For example, instead of saying “I have to sign the kids up for karate” say, “I want to sign the kids up for karate because I know they’ll love it.” Small changes in language for sure – but it makes a difference!
Get Some Fresh Air
There’s nothing like some fresh air, sunlight and a little exercise to ease anxiety. Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk around the block, to a neighbor’s house, or a local park. Take your kids to an outdoor mall or sit on the patio of a frozen yogurt shop and share a frozen treat. You can also try your local library. Some libraries also have outdoor patio areas where you can read with your kids. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors in green spaces decreases anxiety.
Practice Mindfulness Exercises
If your anxiety is difficult to control, try deep-breathing from your belly. While you do this, concentrate on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This can help calm you when you’re feeling a panic or anxiety attack start to arise.
Use Your Support Network
Call your friends or family to chat or ask for advice. It may also help to vent with a Facebook parenting group or other online message board. Having a therapist that understands the struggles of parenting can also be incredibly helpful. Not only will the therapist ‘get it’ because they have been through it, but they will have the expertise to help work through issues effectively and alleviate the anxiety.
Having anxiety and/or depression when raising a child isn’t anything unusual. It doesn’t make you a bad parent! Actually, you’d be surprised how common it really is. What you don’t want to have happen is for your anxiety or depression to begin to affect your relationship with your child. It’s better for you, your child, and the therapy process to tackle this earlier rather than later.
If you find your anxiety is impacting your ability to be a happy, successful parent, I would love to talk to you to see if I can help. Please contact me today for a free 15 minute consultation to determine if working together would be helpful for you.