When you have kids, dealing with anxiety as a parent becomes a daily challenge, so here are some tips to help you get through the bad days.
Did you know women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop anxiety disorder? Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is not only the most common type of mental disorder in the US but it impacts an estimated 264 million people. While anxiety disorders have begun to feel very normal to many women, dealing with anxiety as a parent is completely different. It’s a challenge that none of us are prepared for. The portrayals on television are probably nothing like your personal experiences with anxiety.
How to Manage your Anxiety as a Parent
The best you can do is the best you can do. Dealing with anxiety as a parent starts by learning to manage it with a few key tips:
- Accept your Limits – From the first day you bring your peanut home, your anxiety levels may rise more than ever. In those first few weeks, pay close attention to your body’s physical cues like fatigue and irritability. Worrying is a normal parenting feeling, but you shouldn’t find yourself feeling panicked. Learn your boundaries so that you can accept your limits. This may help you manage your anxiety by avoiding situations that bring you higher stress.
- Learn to Say No – Another lesson you need to learn is saying “no.” When you know your boundaries, you can turn down situations or commitments that could trigger your anxiety. Parenting is hard enough without finding yourself in situations that hurt your mental health. Parents, and particularly mothers, try to do it all, but no one can.
- Talk to your Partner – Shutting out your partner may only add fuel to the fire. If you’re serious about dealing with your anxiety as a parent, include your partner in the conversation. It gives him or them the opportunity to support you. Manage your anxiety by letting someone know what you’re dealing with and how you’re triggered. Your partner is there to support you – let them!
- Get a Pet – No, I don’t mean a therapy animal, but any pet may help to ease your anxiety symptoms. They are proven to have an impact on people’s moods, stress, anxiety or depression. In fact, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements for having a pet. As a parent, you may feel you have enough on your plate without bringing an animal into the mix, but it truly can help you deal with your anxiety.
- See a Doctor about Mediation – See if a medication to ease your anxiety may be the right fit for you. Talk to your doctor about your options (including therapy) and take medication under consideration. Of course, most people see medication as a last resort, but it’s important to consider it if you’re serious about managing your anxiety. Keep in mind your options may be different if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Being a parent is not incompatible with having an anxiety disorder. Learning to accept your circumstances, adjust to your triggers and maintain balance in your life can help you manage your anxiety and still be an amazing parent. There are many people around you who are also dealing with an anxiety disorder as a parent and could use a friend to talk to, so don’t be afraid to share your story with others. Stay safe, mommas!
How has dealing with anxiety as a parent impacted your life in comparison to your experience before children?
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