Managing Your Parental Anxiety
Some days it seems like you can’t parent without having anxiety and other days you may feel invincible to the seemingly never ending tasks. Learning more about parental anxiety and how to manage it as a parent is one of the first steps to take in the right direction when it comes to improving your overall mental health. As parents, you may feel like you aren’t allowed to have hard days and this couldn’t be further from the truth! Many parents around the world struggle with anxiety, whether it relates to their kids or day to day life tasks that need to be accomplished.
Anxiety and Parenting
Having parental anxiety, rather than generalized anxiety, can be different in a lot of ways. For example, parental anxiety specifically refers to the roles and responsibilities that come with being a parent. You may worry about how your child is performing in school, their overall wellbeing, how they are getting along in life, and their future. Though this may seem like every parent’s worry, it starts to transform into parental anxiety when associated with the following symptoms:
- Constantly feeling on edge
- Feeling like your child will be harmed or not need you anymore
- Heightened sense of fear that others will judge your parenting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Obsessively overthinking
- Assuming people are “out to get” you or your child
- Spending excessive time worrying about small details
- Seeing threats towards your child everywhere, even in safe environments
These signs and symptoms are not all encompassing, and it’s important to talk to a mental health provider if you believe you may be struggling with parental anxiety.
What Helps Manage Parental Anxiety
Having parental anxiety is not an “end all be all” situation and there are numerous ways you can manage it. Although in some situations, it may be best to seek help from a professional mental health provider, there are techniques you can start practicing right away! One of the best things you can do to get started is to target specific thoughts you are having and what triggers them. Ask yourself, do I feel overwhelmed when my child is away from me? How do I cope when me and my child are in a new environment? Identifying these early on in your journey will help when it comes to the following tips of managing anxiety.
Be Communicative and Open
Many parents feel like they can’t express their feelings of anxiety or that it will get ridden off as just stress. Communicating your feelings to your partner or trusted friend can help release some of the thoughts that have been building up. Don’t be afraid to be open and honest about how you have been feeling, chances are someone you know may have gone through something similar!
Utilize Stress Management Techniques
Finding the right stress management technique for yourself can be a bit of trial and error at first. Do you prefer breathing techniques? Meditation? Journaling? Whatever the case may be, implementing these stress management strategies into your daily life may help alleviate the overwhelming thoughts and feelings often associated with parental anxiety.
Create a Plan
Creating a plan is a great way to take away some of the “unknown” that often comes with parenting. There are many ways to create a plan, for example, mentally preparing for when you drop off your child at daycare before you do so can help a smoother transition for all. Additionally, writing out your week and visually seeing it can also help you plan accordingly mentally and emotionally.
Practice Coping Skills That Work For You
What one coping skill may work for one, may not work for another and that’s okay! This just shows how different our brains are. Finding the right coping skill that works best for you and your family can make all the difference. Do you need to take 5 minutes to go shower and be alone? What does a low stress environment look like to you? Acknowledge your needs when it comes to coping so you can be the best version of yourself.
Parental anxiety is a real thing that parents face everyday. It’s exhausting constantly obsessing over what could go wrong and it may often feel like you can’t stay in the present, which furthers the feelings of anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle that can be broken with the right mindset, communication, coping skills, and seeking out professional help if needed. Regardless of where you are in your parenting journey, know that you aren’t alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel!
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