As parents, we face fears that we never thought existed until we had children. Worrying is a normal part of life, and it is definitely a normal part of motherhood. However, there comes a time that too much anxiety can hurt us, and that can affect the way we raise and interact with our little ones.
Juggling anxiety while caring for our loved ones can be detrimental to our mental health. Read on to learn how to recognize the source of your stress, disarm it, and get the help you need.
Parenting With Anxiety
We may not notice we are anxious because we are too busy with our everyday lives. We also spend so much time staying strong in front of our children that we may be suppressing our emotions without realizing it. If a parent was already dealing with pre-existing anxiety, having children will only magnify their condition and force them to seek help.
A lot of times, anxiety looks different on parents, and it may come across as stress. We may express our fears through various means, such as helicopter parenting or random angry outbursts. If you sense that something isn’t right, there may be an underlying cause.
Signs of Motherhood Anxiety
Mothers are some of the most resilient people we know. If you are a mom yourself, you’re familiar with setting aside your emotions to prioritize your children. Since mothers play such an important role, it’s difficult for those on the outside to differentiate between everyday stress and motherhood anxiety.
These are some common signs of anxieties that are related to motherhood. If you can identify with most of these symptoms, it is time to prioritize yourself as well. Motherhood anxiety includes, but not limited to:
- Excessive worrying
- Not feeling well (i.e. headaches, upset stomach, etc.)
- Distorted thinking, or asking too many “what if” questions
- Checking in too often
Diagnosis and Treatment
It sounds cliché, but the first step is to accept that you have anxiety. Anxious parents can create anxious children, and the risk is higher if parents wait until after having children to do something about it. While there is no specific cure, parents can learn healthy ways to manage anxiety when it arises.
For severe anxiety, everyone can benefit from therapy. Seeking help may be daunting at first, but healthcare professionals urge mothers and other individuals struggling with anxiety to try this service. If left untreated, anxiety tends to worsen and can interfere with the mother’s quality of life and those around her.
Gaining Back Control
Every day we are faced with new challenges that can sometimes bring out the worst in us. We need the reminder that anxiety is real, and that we need to go easy on ourselves. Here are some common ways to ground yourself to the here and now.
Know What You Can and Can’t Control
By picking your battles, you may limit what you worry about and focus on things you can change. As a mom, you have control of what your child eats and how their day looks like, but it is well known that your plans can be blown out the window any second. You cannot control every outcome, but you can control how it affects you.
Differentiate Between Fears and Facts
Take your fears and analyze them from an objective perspective: is there any concrete evidence that you should be worried? Take a step back, learn whether your anxiety is justified, or if it is a projection from your past. Many of our parenting fears come from our imagination, in the form of “what if”.
For instance, when asking yourself “what if my child doesn’t do well in school?” look for evidence that supports your thought. Then, ask yourself what you can do to help your child succeed. That way, you tackle the source of the anxiety and gain your control back.
Focus on Yourself
You can have a million things to do, and prioritizing your wellbeing should be one of them. By managing your life, you can live on your terms instead of as a reactionary response to your child and responsibilities. Focusing on your separate identity also shows your child that they are free to develop their own life as well.
Stop the Stigma
Anxiety in motherhood is real, and not enough people are talking about it. As much as we want to be everywhere and handle everything at once, we have to remember that we are only human. By accepting that we experience anxiety will allow us to be more forgiving to ourselves.
With today’s broader mental health awareness, parents shouldn’t have to suffer in silence for the betterment of the kids. The sooner we ask for help, the earlier we can resolve our issues, and we can go back to being the heroes our children need.