Parents can face a barrage of anxiety… it is everywhere. Have I done this right? Are they doing it better? How come they all seem completely sorted whilst I feel like I’m crumbling?
There is so much anxiety that surrounds the whole process leading up to parenthoodhood, let alone the other side when you actually have your children. Even deciding to try for a baby, going through the times of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, perhaps dealing with loss, giving birth… and all before you have become a parent and have to deal with the day-to-day anxiety of keeping a little human alive. There is a lot going on.
Ultimately anxiety is just anxiety. It can crop up at any time. Parents will continue to be under pressure and face really challenging times… Therefore, I wanted to share my top 5 tips, which will ensure you feel more resilient and confident whatever happens in your day.
These five are some of my “go-to” methods whenever I am feeling overwhelmed in my role as a parent.
For me, when I start to feel anxious, it is as though a current of electricity runs through my body and I almost feel “whizzy”. My shoulders tighten, everything clenches up and it can feel all-consuming. In that very moment, I need to “get rid” of that nervous energy.
So give this a try… stand up tall and flick out your hands to your side. As you do so, imagine that the nervous energy is flicking out of your fingertips and dripping away from you. Next, run your hands down your arms, creating friction, to get rid of the energy through your fingertips. Finally, jiggle your whole body – shaking the anxiety out of your system. Then, move on to the next tip of breathing…
We forget that our breath is (unsurprisingly!!) with us at any given moment. We can get so caught up in a moment that we forget to breathe or we breathe very high up in our chest, all tight and sprung up. There is tonnes of research around deep belly breathing and its benefits.
So, in a stressful and anxious moment, remember to take a few deep, proper breaths. Start by breathing in for a count of 3, holding for 3 and then breathing out for 3. If the baby is screaming, you are dealing with a challenging family member or your toddlers are driving you nuts, this is a perfect time to take a few deep breaths. Breathe, calm yourself, reset and then go back in again to try and deal with the situation when you are more composed and calmer.
As you get better at breathing, try to increase the 3-3-3 to 4-4-4, right the way up to 7-7-7 (7 in, 7 hold, 7 out). Breathing is the most powerful tool to help your heartrate to slow and to calm your body down. You just need to remember to do it, so pop a sticky note up somewhere you will see it.
Take Each Moment as It Comes
I find I can get really overwhelmed by the overall to do list – there are doctors’ appointments I need to remember weeks from now, a new class that I signed them up for next Thursday and a playdate with a friend two weeks out. It can spiral quite quickly into panic and make it impossible to complete very simple tasks.
The obsession with the future and worrying about all that is upcoming can completely ruin the moment. Try and bring it back to this moment. How can you make just the next 5 minutes happier? Question: what would happen if I just enjoyed this right now (yes even with a screaming child)? Or perhaps ask yourself, what do I need to get through the next hour? By bringing it back to these simple questions, and into this very moment, you can stop the overwhelm and make it a little happier.
It is critical that you take care of yourself on a daily level. Simple things, like trying to get enough sleep (making up for it in the day if needed) and consuming good food and drinks. If you have had a poor night’s sleep, reaching for caffeine and sugary things to get through the day, will often only backfire later. Think about putting yourself first.
Imagine you have a little genie on your shoulder who is looking out for you. They will tell you the best daily habits and routine that will genuinely make you feel good from the inside out. They might not seem like much, but everything truly does add up, so changing that coffee to a decaf or a water can have a profound effect. Remember the plane instructions that in an emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others? This is no different in real life. Prioritise yourself and look after yourself, so that you are in the best position to help others.
The biggest thing I have learnt from writing Generation Panic is that everyone experiences anxiety on some level. Yes, to repeat, every single parent you come across (regardless of how well put together they are) will be fighting or has fought some battle that you might well not see.
So… start with opening up and leaning on your support network. Do not feel alone, as I guarantee that others close to you will be able to relate in some way. So right now, I want you to message one person, so that you know that you have people you can rely on and are not alone.
You can tackle your anxiety by trying out these five easy and simple tips, so that it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and debilitating. We watch our children take baby steps all the time, yet sometimes need the reminder to take baby steps ourselves. Remember, you are a brilliant parent, doing the best you can…
If you want to find out more about Generation Panic, which is jam-packed with over 100 tools and techniques just like these to combat anxiety, check out www.generationpanic.com – it is available for order on Amazon, Waterstones, Kindle, Audible etc. Likewise, it would be great to hear from you and find out what you do that helps when you are feeling anxious, so do get in touch via my bloss profile.