If you’re a mother, you’re already well aware of the fact that moms are hardwired to worry. And with the current state of the world, we’re all on high alert. Our kids are now back in school and we wonder—are my kids happy? Healthy? Are they connecting with friends and having fun? And if stressing about the kids isn’t enough, we still have anxiety about work, homework, meals, and everything else in between!
It’s hard for moms everywhere. However, if you catch yourself worrying more than enjoying time with your family, you may be suffering the effects of anxiety. Luckily, there are several practical ways you can kick it to the curb this season and embrace the joys of being a mom instead.
Women are more likely to experience more physical signs of stress compared to their male counterparts.
The first step to banishing anxiety is to pinpoint exactly where those feelings of worry, fear and panic originate. If you constantly fret about your kids breaking an arm while playing or your baby getting close to wall outlets, your concern likely comes from a place of protection. Once you determine the source, however, you can work on coping with these feelings as they arise.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
One way to handle and reduce anxiety is to focus on your breath. Taking a moment or two to take a deep breath and let it out can do wonders to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. One method entails inhaling through the nose for four seconds, then exhaling through the mouth for another four. If you have some time, practice deep breathing for 10 to 15 minutes.
Get Out and Exercise
I know — the last thing you want to do after chasing the kids around all day, cooking dinner and cleaning up spills is start working out. But exercise can have significant benefits, especially when banishing anxiety. Whether you choose to sweat it out with a jog around the block or roll out your yoga mat in your backyard, merely incorporating movement into your day can deliver several hours of relief.
Take a Moment to Meditate
Just like deep breathing, meditation can reprogram the brain and improve your ability to regulate emotions. Through meditation, you familiarize yourself with anxiety and choose to recognize and deal with related emotions. Then, you let each feeling go. This approach can help you differentiate between founded worries and irrational episodes.
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Take a Bath
After you’ve put the kids to bed, treat yourself to some quality R&R time. Grab your bath bomb, face mask and a couple of your favorite candles, and slip into the tub for a nice warm bath. Studies have shown soaking in warm water can lower blood pressure and reduce pain and tension. Tossing in Epsom salt can also relieve sore muscles and loosen stiff joints.
Start a Journal
Another way to say goodbye to anxiety is to write a letter to it. It may sound silly, but addressing your stress and writing out all the things keeping you up late at night will rob your emotions of their power. Put your thoughts into words, then resolve to leave them on the paper instead of taking them with you.
Weight gain from chronic stress is possible. Excessive cortisol releases from adrenal glands above the kidneys may lead to fat accumulation.
Change Up Your Diet
You don’t have to jump on the latest diet trend to enjoy the benefits of eating healthier. Cut out fast food or sugar from your diet and replace them with whole foods like fresh fruit, vegetables and complex carbs. These can help you feel more energized and increase serotonin levels, leaving you feeling happy throughout your day.
Skip That Glass of Merlot
Now, we aren’t proposing you give up wine for good, but abstaining from drink for a few weeks may reduce your anxiety by lowering your blood pressure and improving sleep. Cutting out that nightly glass of wine will also reduce your calorie intake and allow you to stay hydrated, two key components of a healthy diet — and an anxiety-free life!
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In women, stress may mess up your regular menstrual cycles. Some women may miss their period as a result of being stressed.
Switch to Tea
While you’re at it, try cutting caffeine out of your meal plan too. Caffeinated beverages like soda and coffee are stimulants to the nervous system, triggering your fight or flight response and thereby increasing your anxiety. This factor doesn’t mean that drinking these beverages will automatically stir up your distress — however, it may increase your chances of encountering anxiety. If you feel caffeine is contributing to your worry, consider giving it up for a week and switching to non-caffeinated tea.
Get Some Serious Shuteye
When you have kids, sleep moves to the back burner, especially if you wake up every hour or two to feed a newborn. However, rest is vital in maintaining your health and controlling your anxiety. Besides, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re also likely to be more irritable. So put the kids to bed early and get some extra shuteye.
Your skin is sensitive to stress too. Acne breakouts can occur in some people, while others might have itchy rashes. Both symptoms are related to an inflammatory response from stress.
Talk It Out
Sometimes, the best way to cope with it is to voice your worries to someone. This person may be a parent, your partner or a trusted friend. Tell them about your stress and the struggles of being a mom (we all have them). And let them comfort you or give helpful advice—especially if they’re a mom too. You may find that a listening ear is just as useful as therapy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you feel you have no one you can open up to or can’t seem to get a hold on your anxiety no matter how hard you try, consider getting professional help. Doing this may include consulting your doctor and seeking medication if your symptoms are serious. Or, you might seek out a therapist or psychiatrist to discuss your emotions and thoughts with. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help.
Stress can make you irritable, and even angry. This is due to an accumulation of stress’s effects in the mind. It can also occur when stress affects the way you sleep.
Be Sure to Practice Gratitude
Last, but certainly not least, practice gratitude. When you wake up or before you go to sleep, write down or think about three things you’re grateful for that day. They can be as vague or as specific as you wish. The point is focusing on the good—the little moments that make you appreciate life and being a mom. So, in your most anxious moments, you can choose to remember the positives and banish all negative thoughts from your mind.
Hopefully, these tips will give you some clarity about how you can remedy your stress and anxiety. Caring for yourself and your family is essential, and removing anxiety’s burden allows you to do these things with more joy.