Motherhood is the toughest job on the planet. Add a little anxiety to the mix, and you’re staring at a task akin to cleaning up beach sand — one agonizing grain at a time.
How do I stay sane? I incorporate several daily practices to manage my disorder. While these techniques don’t replace professional intervention, especially during times of crisis, they do keep me on an even keel. They also protect my mental health and allow me to give my best self to my family, Give these techniques a try, and see if they don’t transform your life, too.
I Wake Up Earlier
Did you know that the most productive people tend to rise at 5 am or even earlier? There’s a method to their madness. This technique allows them to get things done free from interruption — like cries of, “mom, it’s my day to bring a snack-time treat.”
I take 15 minutes to practice yoga and meditation each morning, no matter how swamped I feel. Yes, it’s tempting to dive into my to-do list, but I’ve learned I need to get my mind and body right first. I know that taking this time to manage my mindset makes my entire day flow more smoothly.
I Drink a Lot of Tea
A hallmark of anxiety disorders is intense physical responses to non-threatening situations — like the office happy hour. Because I have social anxiety, I used to rely on a glass or three of wine to help me cope. However, this didn’t benefit my health or career. It also caused many a hangover.
I began drinking herbal teas to help me manage social events without adverse health effects. I know both chamomile and lavender gently relax you, so I’ll brew a mug to take with me to playdates and the like. It gives me a crutch — something to hold in my hand — and calms my frazzled nerves.
I Squeeze in Exercise Creatively
I love taking my kids to the park because I get a decent workout, too. Instead of sitting on a bench, I climb and swing and play alongside my daughters. Instead of driving my oldest to school, we walk together. This practice allows us time to connect and talk — and it gets both our hearts pumping. The habit also reduces my carbon footprint, so I feel fabulous inside and out.
I Check-In With My Partner
While women have made significant strides toward equality, we continue to do more than our fair share of household chores. I made it clear to my spouse from the get-go that I didn’t want “help” around the house. I wanted a partner who would take a similar initiative.
My hubby and I decided to touch base once per week to discuss what’s working and where we can improve. We don’t do this on date night — we’ll schedule 15 minutes on another evening during the week. This method lets us express frustrations before we grow exasperated and blow up at each other.
I Practice Acceptance
Guess what? Your life after having children will never go back to the way it was before. In many ways, that’s a blessing. After all, you brought life into this world, and now you’re nurturing it to adulthood. Go, you!
However, you might not have a clean house again until your kiddos turn 18. That’s okay. Embrace this time as an opportunity to relive your childhood joys. Sure, you want to remain hygienic. However, messy closets won’t grow older by the second the way your little ones do.
I Reach Out to My Support System
When I first became a mom, I wanted to do everything independently. I soon learned that I needed a little help from my friends — as well as my parents and in-laws. Now, I schedule routine date nights with my spouse as well as quiet times for myself while someone else minds the children. As much as I adore my daughters, I need a break. That way, I can return and resume my role as a super-mom.
I Schedule a Weekly Mental Break
Every week, I take at least an hour or two for myself. During this time, I’ll treat myself to inexpensive indulgences. I’ll take a luxurious bath and paint my toes. Sometimes, I merely enjoy a solo stroll around a local museum. When guilt starts to rear its ugly head, I remind myself that I need solo time to stay well-adjusted.
I Play With My Children
Is there anything more soothing than sitting and coloring a picture with your little one? If there is, I haven’t found it. I revel in the joy of playing with my kids. It gives me newfound freedom. I’d never voluntarily go down a sliding board by myself, but when I’m playing with my daughters, it’s as natural as breathing.
We use a variety of activities that help my children learn self-soothing behavior, too. Like my daughters, I have stuffed animals that I’ll squeeze when I’m feeling particularly anxious. Sometimes, cranking the tunes and dancing with my little ones is the best therapy.
Keep Your Cool as a Mom With Anxiety
If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, you may benefit from professional assistance. However, you can incorporate these daily techniques into your life, too. They helped me stay sane as a mom with anxiety — may they do the same for you!
Jennifer Landis is the founder of Mindfulness Mama, a blog where she talks all things #momlife, marriage, mindfulness, and everything in between. A thirty-something mom of two, Jennifer spends her limited free time practicing yoga and pilates, sipping tea, and reading with her littles. You can find more from Jennifer on Twitter, @JenniferELandis.
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