2 weeks ago · lizzie · 0 comments
What is Stress and Anxiety?
Being a parent has it’s ups and downs as any parent very well knows. It’s natural to feel pressure when you’re rushing around trying to get everything done. But what happens when that pressure leads to more serious parenting stress and anxiety?
Stress itself is very harmful for your overall health and wellbeing.
We know long term stress can cause physical/emotional reactions, such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Higher blood pressure
- Stomach pains (gas and bloating, constipation/diarrhea)
- Loss of appetite
- Emotional eating
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
- Skin irritations
- Negative thinking
We know that anxiety can cause physical/emotional reactions such as:
- Panic attacks
- Racing heartrate
- Increase sweating
- Fast breathing
- Increased aggitation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling restless
- Feeling dread over anxiety provoking triggers
Both stress and anxiety are unhealthy for your overall wellbeing and if left untreated can lead to more serious mental or physical responses, such as:
- driving when overtired
- using alcohol or drugs to mask or cope with anxiety and stress.
In addition to the impact stress has on your life, stress and anxiety have a huge impact on your parenting and your relationships overall.
How does Parenting Stress and Anxiety impact your life?
Feeling stressed as a parent, unfortunately comes with the job. The expectations and demands on parents are very high, but it’s how you deal with this stress that dictates your level of happiness and overall wellbeing as an individual and as a parent.
Parenting anxiety is also normal, particularly when you bring a new baby home for the first time and you’re trying to find your feet. However, when parenting demands regularly exceed the time and resources you have available to meet demands, stress and anxiety begin to really set in. When left untreated, both stress and anxiety will begin to seriously impact your health and ability to function at your best.
A good example of parenting stress includes, ongoing financial pressure to raise a child (let alone the regular demands for more toys, gadgets and fashionable clothes). Regardless of your financial situation, the cost of raising a child can lead to ongoing stress.
Anxiety, however, is often the result of your underlying thoughts and feelings about yourself, your child, your parenting style, your financial position, the opinions of others and so on. A good example of this is breastfeeding. If you experienced issues with breastfeeding, you are likely to relate to the anxiety that comes with having a lack of milk, a baby that won’t latch properly, a baby that has wind pain after breastfeeding, or your own pain whilst or after breastfeeding. All these issues can be dealt with, or managed. However, the anxiety comes when you judge yourself, your child or others as a result of not being able to breastfeed the way you had hoped.
Impact of Parenting Stress and Anxiety on your child
One of the things that anxious parents often do well, is try to mitigate anxiety impacts on their child. For instance, a mother will cry alone, but show a brave face to her child. So researchers often debate whether stress and anxiety has a direct impact on how stressed or anxious your child becomes.
We do know that children model your reactions, so they may pick up how to respond to things based on your observations. This can be reduced however, through positive and consistent parenting.
There is debate over whether your child will pick up your anxiety and stress. However, when you feel stressed or anxious you are much more likely to snap at your child, have less patience with your child, make mistakes, forget things and procrastinate. These things all make it very difficult to implement all those Calm Parenting techniques you worked so hard to put into place.
Are you an overprotective or overcontrolling parent?
The other thing that happens when you experience long term parenting stress and anxiety is that you can become overprotective or overcontrolling. Parents and cultures themselves differ with respect to behviours they believe to be healthy and safe for children. For instance, one parent may allow her child to walk to the shops or school alone, but another parent may see her child as too young to be doing these things. Further, one parent may believe her child can catch public transport alone, yet another parent drives her child everywhere for fear of her child getting hurt.
It doesn’t really matter what parenting style you engage in. The key is to make sure it’s not coming from a place of panic and that you provide clear direction over at what stage you believe your child will be ready to build up to certain behaviours. You also want to be clear about your reasons for enforcing your parenting rules. For instance, you may decide you don’t want your child to have sleepovers until she can shower on her own. There is a clear reason here and it’s a rule that has an end point and your child can build up to this level of confidence whilst ensuring your child is safe when you’re not there.
You role is to guide your child and help your child to develop independence, whilst also learning how to cope and recover after making mistakes. You will be better equipped at parenting calmly and consistently when you are feeling your best. So if you are experiencing parental stress and anxiety, I would highly recommend you take a look at our free downloads:
- Calm Parenting – Free Starter Course
- 5 Effective Ways to Add Serious Self-confidence to Your Life
- Check out all our Free Parenting Resources here