Editor's Note: With Mother's Day coming, we are writing Letters to Fellow Moms as part of our Mother's Day Eve celebration. Join us. -Jenna
Dear Mom Dealing with Anxiety,
You're different than other moms. I mean, you do all the same things each day: change diapers, go to work, make lunch, give horsey rides, clean the kitchen, check in with daycare. But, you think you're different. You manage all of these things while dealing with anxiety. Maybe it's just the everyday, run-of-the-mill variety, or maybe, like me, you have day-stopping panic attacks and require medication. Either way, you're anxious, and that makes life a bit harder, doesn't it?
Well, you know what I think? I think we're not that different from "non-anxious" moms. I'm not sure our lives are any harder than the mom's life next door.
I don't mean this to trivialize or downplay the problem. No, instead, I want you to feel normal. I want to bring things into perspective. While the mom next door might not have anxiety, there is most certainly something else she is dealing with. Maybe it's marital problems. Maybe it is financial. Maybe it is cancer. Maybe it is alcoholism. We might not ever know. But having issues is normal.
It's just that, for some reason, we've been told to stop talking about how stressed we are. We've been told to hide our anxiety issues so people won't think we're crazy. But, that in itself is crazy. We are just like other moms. We have our problems, and we need ways to cope.
Give yourself a gift this Mother's Day: own your anxiety. Find ways to deal with even a little part of it. Confide in someone you trust. Convince yourself that all moms struggle with something, and your struggle is nothing to be ashamed of.
I am one overly anxious mom, and well, I need to be okay with that before I can work on it. My search for tools to deal is constant, but I have come up with my 12 favorites. Now, here is my gift to you:
Make Lists & Organize
This helps some while it might overwhelm others. Consider which camp you sit in. For me, I like to briefly map out my day with a list. I also feel calmer when everything in my home has a home for itself. When things go off course or get messy, just remind yourself that this is your life, and you can roll with the changes.
I'm big into prayer. It helps me focus and really reflect on what is troubling me most. When I pray, I know that I am not only working out things in my own head, but I am receiving Divine help -- pretty cool.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
I have been using tricks from CBT for a few years now, and one of my favorites is the 20 Second Countdown. Learn more about the technique here.
This is always a hot button topic, but if you need it, and it helps, please don't be ashamed.
Find Relaxing Activities
For me, I find coloring to be hugely relaxing. This is perfect because I can do it with my kids. (Yes, I have my own book and crayons, and I don't share!) I also like to tune in to tune out. The Internet and TV are great mind distractions; just be careful that they don't become an addiction. And, don't feel guilty for using them.
Come Up With a Mantra
Mine? "These are only unpleasant bodily feelings; they cannot harm me."
Be Honest with People
I was always afraid to do this for fear of being judged, but really, people don't care. I've never had someone be rude to me because I was having an anxiety issue. Last time I had blood drawn, I had an attack, and I just told the nurse. She laid me down and let me relax in the room until I felt comfortable to leave. No one bothered me. No one judged me. No one ever brought it up again.
Exercise & Cut Caffeine and Sugar
I'm not sure I need to elaborate on this. You know the drill. Just follow it. It helps. If exercise is a trigger for your anxiety (like it is mine), start with DVDs at home. The safety of home and the ability to stop whenever I want helps a ton.
Again, I think you get this. Breathe deeply and from your diaphragm. But, while you do this, focus on what each of your senses is experiencing. Think deeply about all that you are sensing.
The ultimate relaxing scent. Lavender Epsom salt, essential oil, cookies, tea, candles, perfume, lotion. Whatever tickles your anxious fancy. I keep a vial of lavender oil in my purse for on-the-go.
Dress in Layers
Restrictive clothing and overheating can be huge triggers. I essentially eliminated sweaters from my wardrobe in lieu of t-shirts and cardigans. There are more options that way, anyhow!
Know Your Triggers & Prepare
I talked a bit about my triggers in this letter. Think about your own. What life changes can you make to accommodate them? Are you unsure of your triggers? Start writing down what was happening before you became anxious; look for patterns.
Whew. Was that enough? I didn't overwhelm you, did I? The bottom line is I want you to feel loved. You're a good mom -- you just have anxiety, and I like that about you. It makes me feel normal too. Take care of and be kind to yourself today, okay?
Jenna is a former high school English and Journalism teacher turned stay-at-home-mom from the Midwest. She spends her days taking care of her daughter and growing her latest edition due at the end of this month (!!!). You can find her freelancing all over the web or at her personal blog, Call Her Happy. Contact her on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to say hello at BlogHer '13 Chicago!
Mother’s Day Eve® is a moment where moms come together to celebrate each other and the sisterhood of motherhood. The Saturday night before Mother’s Day, line up the sitters and ditch the dads, because this party is just for the mamas. Find out how to join the Mother's Day Eve party now!
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