Being a parent is hard work at the best of times. However, when you’re suffering from anxiety, it can make the job a million times more difficult.
Not only does it make each day tough to get through, but it can also really damage your experience as a parent. When you’re so busy worrying and trying to fight anxiety, you’re missing out on some of the greatest, happiest moments with your little one.
Of course, some level of anxiety as a parent is completely natural. You’re going to worry about your child and whether they’re healthy and happy. However, if the anxiety is a little more extreme and it’s affecting your daily life, it’s time to start dealing with the problem.
It’s not easy admitting you may need help to battle an anxiety disorder. However, you need to know that it’s a lot more common than you might think and these days, there’s plenty of help available. Not sure where to start? Below, you’ll discover 10 essential tips for parents struggling with anxiety.
1. Make An Appointment With Your Doctor
The very first thing you should do if you recognize the signs of anxiety, is book an appointment with your doctor. Whilst a lot of self-help tips will help you to reduce the symptoms somewhat, in some cases medication may be needed.
Anxiety can vary dramatically in severity. Some parents may experience very mild symptoms, while others may struggle to function because of it. You’ll need to be honest with your doctor about how serious your anxiety is and they’ll be able to prescribe the necessary treatment if required.
A lot of parents are understandably worried about going onto medication. You can discuss your concerns with the doctor, but remember that there’s no shame in being prescribed with anxiety medication. It can really help you to manage the symptoms and get back to simply enjoying being a parent.
You may not even need medication. There’s a lot of help available for anxiety disorders these days and your doctor will be able to refer you to local help groups.
2. Use The Distraction Technique
Just like negative thoughts, anxious ones can multiply pretty quickly. So, when you find your anxiety levels are starting to rise, the distraction technique can work wonders. It will stop those anxious thoughts in their tracks, allowing you to get a hold on the situation before it spirals out of control.
There’s lots of ways you can distract yourself. Bring out your creative side and draw, paint or write a story. Read a book or listen to a little music. You could even use your child’s toys such as LEGO or Play Doh and bring out your inner child.
By distracting yourself from your anxious thoughts, you’ll prevent them from becoming overwhelming.
3. Learn To Say ‘No’
Do you struggle to say no to people? If so, this isn’t going to help your anxiety.
When you’re constantly saying yes, it leaves you with very little time to yourself. You’ll find yourself agreeing to things you really don’t want, or don’t have the time to do. The trouble is, taking on so much extra work and responsibilities will leave you feeling overwhelmed and extra-anxious because you can’t possibly do everything that’s expected of you.
Learning to say no can therefore significantly reduce anxiety and potentially save your sanity too!
4. Join A Local Group Or Online Forum
One of the most helpful ways to deal with anxiety is to connect with others. When you’re struggling to function because of anxiety, it can make you feel really alone. However, thousands of parents struggle with the same issue, and it can be really comforting to share experiences and tips on how to cope.
The internet has made it possible to connect with parents across the globe. We actually have our own online forum that you can sign up to and find comfort in! If you’d prefer to actually talk to other anxious parents in person, there’s also local support groups you can join. Suffering in silence can make anxiety a lot worse, as well as lead to problems with depression. So, if you haven’t reached out to others yet, now’s definitely the time to do so.
5. Adjust Your Diet
Did you know certain foods and substances can increase the symptoms of anxiety? Studies have revealed that certain foods can cause you to become calmer, while some can really rev up anxiety symptoms.
Looking to calm your anxiety? Tryptophan rich foods such as turkey, have been shown to help the brain feel calmer. The amino acid encourages the brain to create more feel-good chemicals. Similarly, eating foods rich in B vitamins, whole wheat and omega-3 fatty acids are all going to help you feel less anxious.
So, what about the foods that can contribute towards anxiety? Well, it’s advised to stay away from caffeine, processed foods, alcohol and even apple juice. While changes in your diet may not make your anxiety disappear completely, it can be helpful to at least reduce them.
6. Exercise More
Exercise is regularly recommended to help combat depression, but it’s great for anxiety too. Now, the best thing about this tip is you don’t have to stick to an intense 45-minute workout to feel the effects (though obviously, the more you can do, the better). Studies have suggested that even a 10-minute walk can produce the same stress and anxiety-busting benefits as a 45-minute workout.
There’s also been studies which have shown those who are physically active, do generally have less anxiety and depression than those who aren’t. So, if you start to feel anxious, a quick walk could be all you need to feel better.
7. Start A Journal
Some parents find keeping a journal is really useful for easing their anxiety. It’s a fantastic way to get all of your thoughts and fears out of your head and onto the paper. If you bottle up your feelings, they’ll simply build-up and start to become overwhelming. So, writing them down can erase the power they have over you, helping you to feel much more relaxed.
Keeping a journal can also be a great way of identifying any triggers to your anxiety. By identifying your triggers, you’ll be able to either start avoiding them, or figure out a way to overcome the problem. Start writing down when you feel anxious and what you were doing prior to that.
8. Try Out Meditation, Mindfulness And Other Relaxation Techniques
One of the main things recommended to those suffering from anxiety and depression these days, is mindfulness. It can be very useful in some cases of anxiety, though for severe anxiety it may be difficult to practice.
It basically focuses the mind on the present. Anxiety comes from worrying about the future and what may happen. If you can bring your mind into the present therefore, you’ll feel a lot less anxious. Mindfulness can include a wide range of activities, with many finding mindfulness adult coloring books particularly useful.
Similarly, you can also get the same effects from meditation and other relaxation techniques. The goal of all of these practices is to focus the mind and let go of any negative thoughts.
9. Approach Any Fears With Reasonable Actions
If your anxiety is related to your child, you can start dealing with it by taking reasonable actions. A good example of this, would be if you worry your child may have a medical issue. Rather than sitting there worrying, or worse, Googling the issue, book an appointment with the doctor for an assessment. This helps you to take steps to resolve your fear and not let it prompt you into taking unreasonable action.
Anxiety comes from not feeling in control. So, whenever you are anxious about something, brainstorm all of the things you could rationally do to ease the problem. This puts you into control and takes away the power anxiety has.
10. Go Easy On Yourself
For the final tip, above all else it’s important to go easy on yourself. There’s a lot of reasons you might be suffering from anxiety, and feeling like you’re not good enough is one of them. If you leave little time for yourself, it’s going to leave you feeling very stressed. This in turn will add to your anxiety levels.
So, take a breath and more importantly, take a night off! You need some time to yourself to recharge your batteries. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and spend some time doing the things you love. Your anxiety isn’t going to get better if you keep beating yourself up over it.
Overall, anxiety is a very common condition these days and it’s much more recognized than it used to be. This means, there’s a lot more help available. Going to see your doctor should be your first port of call as they will be able to assess the situation and determine whether you could benefit from medication, or more natural anxiety-reducing treatments.