With four children to watch over, 2020 felt like it was filled with constant anxiety. I was worried about how my kids were dealing with school, how they were doing without their friends, and how they were coping with the pandemic emotionally and mentally. I wanted their lives to feel as normal as possible while still keeping them safe and healthy. But now that 2021 is looking like more of the same—at least in the beginning anyway—I need to better manage my anxiety.
For moms that are dealing with anxiety (so, all of us) there are ways to cope and get through the day. With information from Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital’s Cognitive Therapy Program, I learned that the key to switching out of an anxiety state is to fully accept it. Remaining in the present and accepting it, causes it to disappear. To manage anxiety successfully, use their five-step AWARE strategy—and soon you’ll find you’re no longer as stressed or as anxious! Try out these five steps to better manage and cope with anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. They affect 40 million adults in the U.S. age 18 and older, or 18.1 percent of the population every year.
Accept the Anxiety
No one is a perfect mom. I get stressed all the time, just ask my kids. I can’t imagine any mom getting through parenthood—pandemic or not—without a little anxiety. We’re worried about our littles all the time! But if you accept that it’s there and openly agree to experience it, instead of just trying to push it away, it becomes much easier to cope with.
Don’t fight it. By resisting, you’re prolonging the unpleasantness of it all and making yourself even more stressed. Instead, try to roll with it, just don’t let it direct how you think, feel, and act. You got this!
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Watch Your Anxiety
Don’t just think of anxiety as a bad thing happening to you. Instead, imagine it’s just sort of there in passing. It’s with you, but not a part of you. Try to gauge how you’re feeling each day and give it a rating on a scale from 1-10. Watch how the numbers go up and down and try to look at it from an observational standpoint.
Detach yourself from the situation so you can just watch rather than experience. Imagine it’s not your anxiety, you’re just a bystander. This will help you better understand what you’re feeling and experiencing.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9 percent of those suffering receive treatment.
Act With the Anxiety
Try to normalize the situation by pretending you aren’t anxious. Breathe slowly and normally. Slow down a little if you have to, but keep going. If you act with your anxiety instead of against it, it’s easier to direct the flow.
Running from the situation will make your anxiety go down, but your fear will go up. If you tackle the situation that’s giving you anxiety head-on, your fear, and your anxiety, will go down.
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Repeat These Steps
Everything gets better with a little practice. Whether Brody is trying a new dance move or I’m trying to replicate my sister-in-law’s iconic guacamole recipe, the more times you do something, the better you get! The same thing applies when managing your anxiety. No one is going to be 100 percent zen on day one.
But keep accepting your anxiety, watching it, and acting comfortable until it starts getting a little easier. Eventually, you’ll find yourself a little less anxious and better able to handle high-stress situations.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Expect the Best
What you’re fearful and anxious about rarely happens. I know sometimes it feels the world will implode if you aren’t the best mom ever, but it will be okay. And even if anxiety hits, now you know how to handle it!
Know and accept that anxiety is a part of life and instead of trying to avoid it, tackle it head-on. Surprise yourself with how well you manage your anxiety and know you’ll always be able to get through it.
Anxiety disorders affect 25.1 percent of children between 13 and 18 years old. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.