The reason I choose to help mums who suffer from anxiety is simple.
I feel the pain within my bones that comes from us mums questioning ourselves, punishing ourselves and talking down to ourselves because we struggle to deal with anxiety, and therefore can't enjoy life as much as we’d like to.
I’ve been there. I know how it feels to be with your baby but worry more about them than actually enjoy being with them, and it crucified me.
The pain of wanting so desperately to enjoy, but not feeling able to.
It doesn’t mean we don’t love our babies more than anything else in the world (because let’s face it, we do)
What it means is that we simply can’t focus on enjoying the good stuff because the anxious stuff takes over.
Let's face facts. Us mums with anxiety love our kids so much that we worry so much about them in equal measure.
Is he breathing?
Is he OK?
What’s that on his chest?
Why's he making that noise? (this was a big part of my anxiety anyhow)
Am I doing the right thing?
Even now that I’ve managed to overcome the incessant anxiety I experienced, I’m still obsessed with my little boy.
Totally and utterly obsessed.
I guess it’s the lasting effects of too much of an imagination (also a common attribute of anxiety sufferers)
So I’d like to give some key suggestions here on how to enjoy life more as a mum who suffers from anxiety.
- Gratitude. I know, we hear a lot about gratitude but it’s because it’s powerful and beautiful at the same time, and it makes us think differently. It’s a way to bring us back to this moment only. To what truly matters. When we practise gratitude we come from a place of compassion and love, rather than fear and negativity. A simple way to practise gratitude is to write a daily gratitude list. Pick three things that you’re grateful for every day. And write them down every day. It can be the little things or big things. It’s your gratitude list.
- Practise forgiving yourself. Your anxiety is not a reason to be hard on yourself. Instead, it’s a reason to build compassion, love and trust for yourself. The anxiety you feel is your body trying to protect you. It’s not trying to hurt you even though it feels the opposite (I know) Take the pressure off you when you’re feeling anxious. Don’t add to the anxiety by being hard on yourself. Tell yourself kindly but firmly “I’m safe, I’m here right now and I’m OK. I know these feelings aren't trying to hurt me they’re trying to protect me” because that’s honestly what they’re trying to do.
- Be mindful of the little things which end up being BIG things. The gorgeous smile of your little ones. The warm cuppa in your hands. The homemade cookies. The warmth of the house this time of year. Whatever little thing you can be mindful of brings a tremendous amount of peace and presence to your day. Rather than focusing on the to-do list, or the chores, or the workload, or whatever else is happening which feels too big to handle, focus more on the small things. It’ll calm you down and bring you to a place where you feel you can tackle the big things (if they need tackling that is!)
- Stay active. Exercise. Move. Walk, run, cycle. Even in lockdown we’re allowed out and about (thank goodness) Exercise burns off excess adrenaline caused by anxiety, therefore you’ll naturally feel less anxious when exercising. Plus it’s a great excuse to enjoy a cuppa and biscuit when you get back! Exercise also releases happy hormones called ‘endorphins’ which make us feel happier.
- Eat anxiety & stress-reducing foods. My favourites are oats, blueberries and dark chocolate (not in that order!) I intend on writing more posts on anxiety-reducing foods in future because they really do help calm down our nervous systems and bring us back to a relaxed state.
I hope you find this list helpful? Please feel free to comment and share if you like. Sophie x
(Photo by Katie Emslie on Unsplash)