3 years ago · lizzie · 0 comments
Dealing with Anxiety In Motherhood – How Well Do You Cope?
Anxiety 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
Anxiety 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
You 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.
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
When 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.