Hey, I’m going to admit it. I’m a mom and I can get highly anxious. Now that we have three kids, you can say that the stress level has heightened. The older two are always fighting and the youngest one is just constantly on the go, climbing on everything! I’m always worried she’s going to fall, or hit her head on something. You just have to constantly be on watch! There’s always stuff to do around the house, the chore list is never ending and I find my energy level is not always where I want it to be and all of this contributes to my increasing levels of anxiety.
When our first child came, the anxiety levels weren’t too bad because we had a lot of help. We decided to have a child after my father had passed away unexpectedly (which was a very tragic loss). We thought it was the right time and I just wanted something to be happy about. I thought bringing a new child into the world would bring us joy, and of course it did. We were thrilled to have our first daughter.
At the time, we had tons of support. We were living with the in laws and they helped us out tremendously. They helped us with the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry and of course, we didn’t have any financial obligations which really helped us out, so there were a number of stressors that we didn’t have. All I had to worry about was basically the baby, so I was able to spend a lot of time taking care of myself and the newborn.
I was very fortunate to have all that help as a first time mom, but a lot of moms don’t. Their families may not live nearby, they have financial obligations looming over their heads, and their spouse may not always be around to help as they have to provide financially. Also, when you have a new baby you have so many more stressors and you are just exhausted mentally and physically. You can just imagine all of the stress and worries that can push a mom into an anxiety crisis.
In this post, I will briefly go over some facts about anxiety from a credible source and ways that us moms can deal with it. There’s help out there and remember mom, you are not alone.
What is anxiety?
According to the BC Reproductive Mental Health Program, “anxiety is a normal human experience that can affect feelings, thoughts, behaviour and physical well-being.” Did you hear that ladies? Anxiety is normal! We don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed that we have anxiety because it’s a normal!
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety?
Do you feel fearful, scared, upset or irritable? Or do you feel keyed up or on edge?
Do you worry about being a good enough parent?
Do you worry about relationships or the long to-do list?
Do you find yourself over-doing activities? Do you clean excessively?
Are you excessively seeking reassurance or doing research online about health problems?
Do you avoid people, places or activities?
Do you feel restless and get tired easily?
Does your mind go blank or do you have difficulty concentrating?
Do you have other physical symptoms such as being easily startled, shortness of breath, racing heart, or sweating cold clammy hands?
If any of these sound like you, you may have anxiety, and that’s ok.
Quick Facts About Anxiety
1 in 4 people will experience significant problems with anxiety at some point in their lives
1 in 10 people currently have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health problem.
Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women.
The challenges and changes that occur during pregnancy or following giving birth can make anxiety more likely
Anxiety disorders can only be diagnosed by a health professional.
5 Strategies to cope with mom anxiety:
Strategy No. 1- Practice good self-care
- soothing activities like a massage or a hot bath– get hubby to give you a good back rub
- relaxation- ie meditation or yoga. Tip: follow a meditation video on You Tube
- getting adequate sleep– Tip: When the kids are asleep, you are asleep. Get as much sleep as you can!
- spend time with family and friends– book a playdate or a girls night out
- making time for fun activities– what do you enjoy doing? Watch a movie, go for a hike, play a sport or go out to eat.
Strategy No. 2- Make yourself a priority
- as moms, we tend to put everyone else’s needs first
- have you ever heard the flight attendant say, put your oxygen mask on first before putting on anyone else’s?
- sure it’s wonderful to help others, but we won’t be able to if we don’t first take care of ourselves.
- we all know that to be a mom, we need a lot of energy, so we need to make it a priority to nourish ourselves so we can take on our busy day
Strategy No. 3- Eating healthy
- sometimes we can get so busy, that we forget to eat until we are starving
- when our blood sugar levels get low, we can get cranky and irritable and this can contribute to feelings of anxiety
- Some tips:
- stock up on easy to eat food- try frozen veggies or meats that are easy to heat up
- order in or use a food delivery service. More and more grocery stores are providing this service for a reasonable price
- if anyone offers to make you food, say yes!
- try meal replacement bars or drinks if you are busy and on the go
- try fruit cups, wraps, shakes, granola bars or trail mix
Strategy No. 4- Get some exercise!
- studies have shown that exercise can have a positive impact on mood
- people who exercise report less stress and anxiety
- one way we release stress hormones is through sweat
- if it’s nice outside, go out for a walk with the baby in a stroller or in a carrier
- if you can’t go out, do a work out video on you tube or do a work out app on your phone
- dance with your kids or play a dance game like dance central or just dance
- whatever activity you choose, make it fun
Strategy No.5- Engage in Life
- when we are anxious, we tend to isolate ourselves
- it is important to spend time with friends and family
- catch up with a friend with a quick five minute phone call
- attend a mommy and baby group
- get outside of the house
- have mini breaks inside the house
- have some time to yourself without baby
I know these are all tips that we may have heard before, but they are REALLY important in managing our mom anxiety. For myself, I’ve tried meditation. In the past, I’ve never really thought that meditation could change my mindset, but I experimented with my kids one day and tried a you tube meditation video and it was actually really effective. I think it also helped my kids to learn how to calm themselves, calm their minds and learn how to be present and still. It was pretty cool. I encourage you to experiment for yourselves to see what will help you be a more calm and peaceful mama.
If you believe you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, I urge you to seek help. Speak with your family doctor or at least a trusted friend. There’s also a lot of information online. Make sure it’s a credible source.
For more information on anxiety and resources go to AnxietyBC.