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This article was written by Lauren Johnson, a content writer at strutyours.com.
8 Anxiety Relief Tips for Stressed-Out Moms
Being a parent is akin to being a plate-spinning, fire-breathing acrobat. The day-to-day grind of getting kids where they need to go, worrying about finances, and dealing with mountains of problems at work is enough to make you want to pull your hair out sometimes.
Many parents, especially new parents, deal with some form of anxiety regularly. The natural protective nature of parenthood can lend itself to anxiety if not managed properly.
In this article, we chat about anxiety and how to cope as a mom.
Related: Tips for Moms to Destress
What is anxiety, anyway?
The fight or flight response is something we’ve all likely heard about. Evolutionarily its purpose was to keep us alive by helping us to respond to a threat by either fighting or fleeing.
Our bodies are pumped with adrenaline, the heart starts thumping rapidly, you start to see in tunnel vision, and you get hot and clammy. With an elevated awareness and adrenaline pumping, you're equipped to either fight or run.
Once the threat is gone and you’ve survived, all of these feelings disappear and you return to baseline.
Anxiety is very similar, however, the threat isn’t a grizzly bear chasing us in the woods — it’s the mortgage payment due date, it’s the crying toddler, it’s the tension between you and your spouse.
Anxiety is a stress response. Be that emotional or physiological stress. Unlike the fight or flight response dissipating when the grizzly bear is gone, anxiety is persistent.
Besides all the physical symptoms, anxiety can fill you with a terrible feeling of apprehension or dread, like something terrible is about to happen. The physical and emotional symptoms are so severe that every year millions of people take themselves to the ER believing full and well they’re dying of a heart attack when in fact, it’s an anxiety attack.
So, what can you do to keep this dread-filled, worry-wort monkey off your back?
8 anxiety relief tactics that actually work
If you’ve made it this far in the article, I’m willing to bet you know what anxiety feels like. You’ve been there, done that, and want solutions.
The good thing about anxiety is, it can often be managed by stress relief techniques. If you’re feeling your anxiety mounting, and you’re feeling restless, tense, your breathing rapidly, you have stomach queasiness, and feel a sense of impending danger — try these relief tips.
#1 Deep box breathing
When you’re panicking, you’re also likely hyperventilating. Even if you don’t realize it. Anxiety causes “air hunger” which makes you feel like you aren’t getting enough air even when you are. In fact, you can get too much oxygen which exacerbates symptoms.
Instead, try box breathing to slow everything down:
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale 4 seconds
- Hold 4 seconds
This sends a message to your nervous system that you are safe, and there is no threat. Breathing quickly sends the opposite message. You will feel your body start to release after a few rounds of this breathing.
Slow, deep breathing at the very least is effective.
#2 Become aware of your surroundings
Anxiety brings you out of your body and into your mind. It can feel ungrounded and like you're “spinning out”. Combat this by taking note of what you see, hear, physically feel, and smell.
This lands you back into your body and into the present moment.
#3 Do a body scan and relax your muscles
This is a meditation technique that is great for grounding. Try to close your eyes and become aware of your body in sections. Think of your scalp, eyes, ears, cheeks, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, etc. Until you’ve made it all the way to your toes.
Do this 3 times through. On the 2nd round try to relax the muscles of each section.
#4 Recognizing its anxiety can take the edge off the experience
You can take the power away from the anxiety by naming it. “I’m having anxiety right now so my current thoughts are not rational”.
That’s the thing about anxiety, it blows things way out of proportion and believes every second of it. Naming it can remind you that anxiety is all bark no bite.
#5 When your thoughts are out of control ask yourself “are these fears supported by fact?”
In line with the last tip is to question your thoughts. If you’re fearing the worst about your kid who’s on a camping trip — ask yourself “are you absolutely positive that’s what’s happening now”? Think of reasons why it’s not true and remind yourself again, “this is anxiety speaking”.
#6 Reach for calming herbal remedies that work instantly
While some calming pill form supplements are nice, they aren’t helpful in the moment as they take a while to hit your bloodstream. When using herbal tinctures, however, they hit your bloodstream immediately.
Herbal tinctures used under the tongue like skullcap, passionflower, and valerian work to calm the nervous system instantly.
#7 Try mantra meditation
Meditation while anxious is difficult and near impossible. So, instead, try a mantra-style meditation. Choose a saying that gives you comfort like, “This will pass” or “My family and I are safe and protected” and repeat this to yourself over and over.
Focusing on one thought can help keep the “anxiety thoughts” at bay. Replacing those anxious thoughts with a positive one can help you in the moment.
What are other ways you have coped wth anxiety?