More hacks for coping with anxiety in motherhood
Updated: 3 days ago
Like a lot of moms, my battle with anxiety began when I first had kids. I've posted about anxiety before, but I would love to add a few more tools to your anxiety tool box. Here are some of my favorite ways to cope with anxiety in motherhood.
You can actually trick your brain to feel calm. When you smile it signals to your brain that there is no danger and starts to create a different neural pathway.
On the other hand, if anxiety or panic starts to set in when you’re doing something mundane, like making coffee, your brain will start to associate coffee with stress. So smile. And trick your brain. ;)
Taking deep belly breaths can reset your nervous system from your frantic sympathetic nervous system (which is our fight, flight or freeze nervous system) into our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest system.
It only takes a couple of minutes and you can do it anywhere!
I like to do deep inhales through my nose, exhales through my mouth or box breathing, which is inhaling for four counts, holding for four, whaling for four and holding for four.
Play the Movie
Many times the cause of my anxiety is an overloaded mental load, full of all the tasks, chores and emergencies we as moms face day to day. If I’m overloaded, I like to take a few minutes to “play the movie” - this is visualizing the next few tasks, day or even the next few days. I play it forward in my mind so I can get a clear picture of what I need to do, how I need to prepare and what the day or days will look like.
Spare no detail and don’t catastrophize or sugar coat the events, just visualize the most likely scenario and what you will need physically, emotionally and otherwise.
Humans are hardwired to need connection - but often motherhood can be an isolating, lonely and solo job.
Taking the time to call a friend, meet up for coffee or go on a hike are great ways to connect.
Positive interactions can release dopamine, oxytocin and other chemicals in the brain that make us feel happy, loved, relaxed and recharged.
It’s pretty impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time.
When I feel anxiety or panic attacks coming on, I try to list as many things as I can that I’m thankful for.
Although I am thankful for the big things like health, family, etc, sometimes those things can be too abstract for me to hold on to. Instead I try to focus on small, tangible things that bring me joy like a new outfit, my favorite chocolate, my face cream….
Emotions are powerful. In fact, it's emotions that often lead to the feelings of anxiety.
Don't be afraid of your emotions. Embrace them. Sit in them. Ask them questions and allow them to teach you. Ask them why an interaction caused you to feel afraid, why a thought triggered anxiety. Be still and let your emotions help you.
Once you have let yourself "feel your feelings," and it's time to act or move or make a decision, take emotions completely out of the equation. Tap in your rational side. Take a deep breath, think logically and make a decision from that place - not from an emotional place.
Social media, podcasts, audio books - they're all great. In spurts. However, when you're constantly inundated with external noise, your brain can't process the millions of interactions and emotions coming at you. This causes emotions and reactions to pile up, causing or adding to your anxiety.
Take a few moments throughout the day to completely unplug and let your brain and thoughts catch up.
If you are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, you are not alone. You can find several resources here or feel free to reach out to me on the connection page!