I felt the warm water sprinkle on my back as I took a deep breath and let the steam cover the room. I needed this shower and I was thankful for The Baby Channel to entertain my littles. As I took a moment to exhale, I listened for the kids and didn’t hear anything. Then, as always, the panic and anxiety set in.
- What if one of them tripped and got hurt and couldn’t breathe?
- What if a piece of furniture fell on them?
- What if an intruder is in our home?
- What if? What if? What if?!
On most days motherhood allows me to give, teach, share, and create memories with my children. From drawing with chalk on the driveway to playing the ABC game and reading books, we are constantly enjoying each other.
On other, harder days motherhood is a paralysis of fear I never thought possible. It’s the culmination in my mind of all the bad things that can happen. The news certainly does not help. Motherhood created an anxiety monster in me. I find myself worrying about things that have a less than 1% chance of happening. People around me seem so happy, or they are really good at faking it? Heck, even I’m good at faking it.
I have dabbled in therapy, made mom friends, talked about it, wrote about it, prayed about it, and here are some things that have helped shrink my anxiety monster:
The Power of Prayer
This is not necessarily a religious prayer, but simply a meditation for peace, sanity, and help. I find if I can focus my mind on just the moment, I can push the “what if’s” out of my mind, even if it’s only for a moment.
In a previous post, I wrote about taking a break. It’s important, as a mama, the head of your tribe, the nurse, the house cleaner, the kisser of all boo-boos to take a break. It could be a 15-minute run, a 30-minute yoga class, a massage, a manicure/pedicure, a bike ride, a swim, anything. Exercise releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings and potentially alleviate stress. By taking care of yourself, you are able to channel your anxiety, or even forget it. I find myself least anxious when I am busy.
At one time in my life, I was struggling with my career, the addition of a second child, and changes at home. My mom friends and I tried hard to stick to weekly mom dates. In those two hours, I would vent, cry, and laugh about all of the things that were making me crazy. One friend and I were able to keep it up. At the end of each date, she would always thank me for some advice I gave her. I would always explain that I’m using her too, that hours of raw conversation about motherhood woes purged me of many fears and helped me stay sane. Struggling with building your village? Check out this post on building your mama tribe!
Recently, I was teaching in a classroom when our school went into a lockdown (not a drill). As the teacher and the only responsible adult in the room, I kept myself together despite being very scared. The situation was handled and the lockdown was lifted. My anxiety monster consumed me that day and in the days to come. I cried and cried, unable to even explain why. By the third day, I knew I needed to talk to a medical professional. Several therapy sessions later, I felt better. Never underestimate the value of talking to someone, or seeking medical help. Whether it’s therapy or medication, the importance of taking care of your mental health is paramount to a happy mom and happy family.
My shower was cut short due to my “what if’s,” but I’ve learned strategies to tame my anxiety monster. Given everything that’s happening in the world, my anxiety grows bigger and badder, but I know I can’t let it consume me. Don’t let it consume you either.