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4 weeks ago · · 0 comments

Dealing with Anxiety In Motherhood

Dealing with Anxiety In Motherhood – How Well Do You Cope?

Dealing with Anxiety In MotherhoodAnxiety is common in motherhood

Being a mother and a therapist, I would have to say one of the most common emotions I observe in mothers is anxiety. Dealing with anxiety in motherhood is a very common struggle. Anxiety begins in pregnancy and often never leaves a mother, because with motherhood comes the worry, stress and concern for your child’s safety, wellbeing, security and happiness.

There are many stages of motherhood that lend themselves to anxiety. For instance, when a new baby arrives, you can begin to feel anxious about looking after this fragile new person who depends on you for survival. It is natural after birth to have anxieties, however, if these anxieties become debilitating, then there is a real risk to yourself, your child and your loved ones.

What is the difference between worry and anxiety?

General worry and stress disappear once you regain control and no longer feel fearful. A good example of this is feeling anxious the first time you have to present a speech at work, but after giving speeches several times, you now feel comfortable when asked to prepare a presentation. However, if this anxiety does not dissipate over time and you find yourself dealing with increasing anxiety, the anxiety then can become debilitating.

Beyond Blue defines anxiety as

… when these anxious feelings don’t go away – when they’re ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren’t easily controlled.

The key elements in anxiety are:

  • the inability to control the anxiety
  • their ongoing nature
  • occurring at any time

Dealing with Anxiety In MotherhoodAnxiety can occur at any time and for any particular reason. Anxiety is also often linked with depression and low self esteem. In motherhood anxiety can often become debilitating because mothers often try to cope with anxious feelings alone. New mothers also often report being embarrassed or ashamed to admit they are not coping. This can lead to further anxiety – trying to become the perfect mother.

Here are just some of the common issues mothers report feeling anxious about:

  • a child becoming sick
  • children doing well enough in school
  • financial stress
  • relationship pressures
  • whether children are eating the right foods
  • lack of time
  • being about to manage the daily to-do lists
  • having a messy home
  • ageing parents
  • buying a bigger home
  • being able to afford a good school
  • keeping children safe
  • cyber bullying
  • meeting external expectations
  • what others might think of them

and the list goes on and on….

So you can see, how easy it is for mothers to become anxious, particularly if you as a mother are prone to anxiety, or you have experienced anxiety in the past.

Developing effective coping strategies for dealing with anxiety in motherhood is imperative to your health and the health of your loved ones

dealing with anxiety in motherhoodYou may have gone through life finding ways to just cope with anxiety symptoms, such as a racing heart, sweaty palms and rapid breathing. There are ways to control these physical symptoms of anxiety. Many people seek medical help for anxiety in the form of anti-anxiety medication. Whilst medication has it’s place, it is important to understand that medication only masks the underlying issues causing anxiety. Taken over prolonged periods of time, these drugs can also result in difficulty when trying to come off the drug – the anxiety reappears. As with any drug, there are also side-effects that you need to seriously consider. If you are looking for a product to take to support your anxiety, try a herbal remedy. For instance, Herbario in Melbourne Australia has a variety of herbal elixirs to support many mental and health conditions – including anxiety reduction drops.

So what are better solutions for dealing with anxiety in motherhood?

Dealing with mental stress

Often anxiety develops out of a fear of getting into trouble, being disapproved of or not liked. In such cases, the key is to challenge the negative thoughts.

Ask yourself:

a) are my thoughts rationale (e.g. it’s natural to be nervous before presenting, but I can relax because I know my topic really well)

b) how would I cope if my fears became a reality? (e.g. If I get asked a ‘hairy’ question, I can deflect and say that I’ll get back to the person with the right information. Further, if I forget what I’m saying, I have my notes to refer to. If people in the audience are bored, I can walk closer to them to re-engage them, or choose that moment to start an exercise to get them more involved)

This type of anxiety is trying to prevent you from getting hurt so it has it’s purpose. It helps you to decide whether a behaviour is worth the risk. However, often this fear extends way beyond what is healthy. So you need to question it.

Dealing with physical stress

Dealing with Anxiety In MotherhoodWhen your body becomes anxious (often due to mental stress), your body reacts in a physical manner. It sends signals to the brain that it’s time to get out of this situation to protect yourself from harm. Your body begins to react in order to push you to do something. If you just try to push through the anxiety, you can often become more stressed the moment you notice these physical signs taking shape.

During bouts of short term stress, there are quick and easy things you can do to reduce these physical reactions, such as a increased heartrate, sweaty palms and shortness of breath. The key is to find the method that works quickest for you.

Try some of these methods to see how quickly you can reduce your physical signs of stress:

  • Take a moment to stop and breathe in and out slowly to reduce your heartrate
  • Engage in physical activity to shake out the stress
  • Close your eyes and visualise yourself performing or coping well with your stressful situation
  • Talk to the person who is causing you stress, to clear the air

Anxiety is a natural physical and mental reaction. So it’s important to not berate yourself for being stressed. Your aim is to allow your anxiety to be there as a sign to help you and then manage your emotions accordingly. Instead of getting stressed about feeling anxious, ask yourself why you are having this reaction and get to the bottom of it. Try not to mask your feelings and you will have a much happier, healthy and fulfilling life.

 

Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Author of Perfect Mums: How To Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood & Refresh Your Life: 30 Day Motivational Weightloss Program

11 months ago · · 1 comment

How To Overcome Fear

Overcoming Fear

overcoming fearFear breeds more fear. One of the things you can guarantee is that if you feed your fears they will grow exponentially. The reason for this is quite simple. On a very basic level we are wired to self protect. When we believe we may face a potential threat to our wellbeing, fear is there to protect us.

But, what if our perceptions of what is really scary are skewed by negative past experiences or by inaccurate beliefs? By testing this theory – you can dramatically reduce fear in your life for good.

How to control fear

The easiest way to beat fear is through evidence. Your self preservation mindset will find it very difficult to push you towards fearful events, unless you can convince yourself that your fears are irrational, or that despite your fears, your actions are still in your best interest (or in the best interest of others you deeply care for).

Imagine you have developed a fear of heights. Each time you come close to being up high, you become anxious and avoid the fearful situation. This avoidance reinforces your anxiety because you quickly learn ‘if I get scared, I can run away’. Now, let’s say years go by and now you have a child. Your child begs you to go on a very high waterslide with her, but your fear of heights debilitates you, so you say no. You feel terrible for disappointing your daughter and feel even more ridiculous when you see her brace the high slide alone without you. In this scenario, you avoid your fear and allow it to continue to manifest.

However, what if you challenged your fear? What if you provided enough evidence to show that you wouldn’t get hurt (eg by telling yourself “if my daughter can do it, so can I”). Even though you were scared, you now know your fear is irrational. You brace the high slide. You’re shaking all the way up the stairs. You sit in the slide position and let go. You make it to the bottom of the slide safely. You’re still shaking, but you did it. Two weeks later, your daughter asks you to go on a much smaller slide (one that previously terrified you). At first you become anxious, then you remember how you braved the big slide. The fear of this smaller slide only lasts a few seconds and you slide down it happily. You have proven to yourself that this fear was irrational and you no longer feel scared. That one leap of faith – with evidence to back you up – was enough to break through your fear and reduce other anxieties that had been previously holding you back.

This example illustrates the best way to overcome fear – through evidence. In order to break through fear, you MUST convince yourself that everything is going to be OK, or at the very least, that you can handle the outcome – whatever that may be. So the next time you feel scared, see if you can challenge your fear and take one small step towards removing fear from your life.

If you live your life in fear, are you REALLY living, or just avoiding life? We can’t control our lives. We can shape and influence them, but we can’t control how other people act around us, external life events and circumstances. BUT… we can choose to live in the present. We can choose to use fear RATIONALLY and question whether the things we are truly scared of are rational, or irrational. If you know in your heart a belief is irrational (such as being scared to say “no” to someone even though you know you have a right to), then this is the time to test the evidence and prove to yourself that you don’t have to let fear rule your life any more.

lizzie o'halloran

 

 

 

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 E: Lizzie.ohalloran@helpformums.com W: www.helpformums.com

1 year ago · · 0 comments

How Mothers Can Deal With Stress and Learn How To Be Confident

Motherhood is a prime source of anxiety and stress

Before becoming a new mum, you would never have believed the amount of stress that could come from expecting yourself to be perfect. Not only do mothers expect themselves to be the perfect parent, but there is added internal and external pressure to be the perfect partner, friend, employee, family member and so on… So it’s no wonder so many mothers report feeling stressed about not being able to get enough done in their day, or feel anxious about regularly falling behind. These feelings often lead to further stress and a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

The best cure of stress is to take control

When you are feeling anxious or stressed, it can be very debilitating and can lead to procrastination or inefficiency as your mind is not is an efficient state to cope with all the demands on your plate.

However, one of the keys to feeling calmer and more composed is to take stock of what you can and can’t control. For instance, as a busy mother, you may have a huge list of tasks to get through in your day. You have made the assumption that you can achieve this ‘monster’ list because you expect that when you place your child down for a nap today you will have 2 hours of ‘free-time’ to get everything done. Unfortunately, something has upset your child today and she has taken much longer to settle and only sleeps for 30 minutes. You normal reaction might be to feel like a failure, to get angry or upset and to even criticise yourself for not being able to control this situation and have your child in a regular sleep routine. But what if you decided to rethink about what you can and can’t control. This scenario is a very common one for mothers with young children. There is an expectation that babies SHOULD just follow and routine. What mothers are often not considering is, like adults, children are not always predictable. How many times have you struggled to get to sleep or to sleep well because you were feeling sick; it was too hot; you were uncomfortable; you were upset; you were too cold and so on? A young child or toddler is unable to explain why he/she is having difficulty sleeping, yet parenting experts claim children just need to be placed in a routine to sleep and everything will work out fine. So it’s no wonder that mothers blame themselves or their child when things don’t go according to the experts’ plans.

If on the contrary, in situations like these, you stopped yourself from feeling upset about the ‘uncontrollable’ situation and you re-evaluated your list of tasks, you would begin to take control of your emotions and amend your routine throughout the day accordingly. For instance, you may decide to play with your child for a while and then engage in the activities you had planned together. Even if you were planning on getting some chores done, you could let your child play next to you whilst your cleaned. You could also make the safe assumption that your child will most likely be extra tired that evening, so you could get those chores completed then. Either way, YOU have taken control and adapted to the ‘uncontrollable’ in a way that has reduced your stress levels and still enables you to complete the things on your list – with much less stress.

Gaining control reduces depression

Depression comes from a feeling of being helpless and hopeless, so it makes sense that when you regain a sense of control, you begin to feel happier and more hopeful about the future.

how to be confident, how to deal with stress

When you take control of your own health and wellbeing, you also reduce stress and boost self confidence

Some good examples of this are taking control of your:

  •  Wellbeing: Committing to reducing salt and sugar intake
  • Self esteem: Being mindful of negative self-talk
  • Relationships: Taking a breathe to think before speaking in a ‘snapping’ tone to your partner or kids
  • Finances: Making an appointment to see a financial planner
  • Career, Taking stock of what will truly make you feel happy and balanced now that you have a family
  • Personal life: Feeling comfortable with your parenting decisions and your personal beliefs and values

All these examples above are ways that you can regain control of your life. It is through this behaviour that you can boost your self confidence in times of stress and provide guidance and support for those you love most.

 Take a few minutes now to think about what you would like to regain control of this week and commit to doing this as soon as possible.
 If you need any additional tips on self esteem, jump on to our Wellness Support Page for great free tips, articles and videos on how to feel confident, healthy and happy in motherhood.