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Parenting with Anxiety

Parenting with anxiety can have you feeling like you’re failing the most important people in your life, your children and spouse. Joy can become swept away and special moments turn into grey ones, clouded by constant worrying. Anxiety can prevent you from being the parent you want to be. Irrational thoughts begin to flood your mind, your heart begins to race uncontrollably and your body can turn into jelly. You suddenly find it difficult to be present with your children because you have become a captive to your thoughts. Often times, leaving you feeling powerless.

While everyone has some degree of anxiety, those of us with disorders have an overwhelming amount that can seep into our daily lives, making parenting harder. If you do have anxiety, know that you are not alone. In fact, 18% of the adult population has some kind of anxiety at any given time.

With proper treatment and adoption of any or all of the seven strategies below, you can reclaim your life from anxiety and be the parent you want to be for your child.

  • Go for a walk or exercise. Exercise has been shown to be a great way to relieve anxiety and can include anything from running, joining an aerobics class, circuit training, or yoga.
  • Take a timeout. Finding time to meditate or just taking a break for 15 minutes and engaging in deep breathing exercises can help you calm down when you feel your anxiety creeping up.
  • Play with your hands. You can even involve your children on this one, depending on their age. Play with modeling dough, build something with Legos, color, paint, draw, etc. because by doing so you are taking your mind off your worries. Plus, you’re accomplishing something tangible!
  • Sleep. I know this can be difficult with children, especially with younger ones. But, keep in mind that sleep is paramount to good mental health. Try to sleep when your kids are sleeping and not stay up too late when they are sleeping.
  • Eat well. Nutrition plays a big role in your mood and overall health. Try to eat a balanced diet that includes fiber and protein, giving you longer and slower energy to burn. For some parents, cutting back on caffeine has also shown to help reduce their anxiety. Some parents have also found chamomile tea to be helpful and provide a sense of calm.
  • Connect with friends. Having someone in your circle to talk to can really be helpful in gaining a new perspective. You may also find that voicing your concerns can help you feel more empowered. It’s also helpful to have someone that you can rely on to help you with your children when you really need it. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help!
  • Seek therapy. Therapy can really help you learn more about your anxiety and reshape your automatic thoughts before they impact your feelings. A therapist can also help you learn new relaxation techniques and retrain your brain. With therapy, you may find that your high anxiety days are fewer and farther between. You will also learn to recognize potentially bad days or moments much faster.

Keep in mind that there is hope and that your anxiety is treatable. It’s a work in progress and some people benefit from a multifaceted approach to treating it. Don’t’ let your anxiety deny you the joys of parenting and watching your children grow.

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