Being a new mom or a mom with small kids can come with a little (or a lot!) of anxiety. You are responsible for a very vulnerable person and much of what you are going through will be new. My colleague Dr. Sarah Nunes, a registered psychologist and PhD had some great advice for managing anxiety in motherhood, she says
“I personally found a steep learning curve with my first child and found I was still unsure of things by my third. Here are some basic tips to manage the anxiety that comes with parenting a newborn or small child.”
Dr. Sarah Nunes gives the following advice for moms to help manage their anxiety:
1) Understand that some anxiety is normal. Motherhood is a new endeavour with many unknowns; therefore, you might feel unsure and nervous. Alongside anxiety you may also experience mood changes (due to changing hormones and sleep deprivation), loneliness, and challenges with your partner adjusting to your new roles as parents.
2) Understand that your anxiety might fluctuate depending on how much sleep you’ve had, if you’ve had any breaks from the child, and how much support you feel you are receiving.
Things you can do:
1) Try ways to relax in your home: try diaphragmatic breathing, a short guided meditation on your phone, a hot bath, a massage or a short walk around your neighborhood. These things will not take away your anxiety but they will help you to feel more in control of it.
2) Ask for help and time for yourself: ask your partner to take the child out for an hour so you can de-stress. Ask an in-law (if possible) to come over to be with the child so you can have sometime to yourself. Hire outside help if you can afford it.
3) Pay attention to your extreme thoughts: try to notice when you are getting carried away with a particular thought and ask yourself if there is evidence for the truthfulness of the thought. Notice the emotion that comes with the thought. If you find yourself stuck in a negative thought, notice it without judgment and try gently redirecting it to a positive thought.
4) Recognize rumination: when worrying no longer generates new ideas this is called rumination. When this is happening, try to get busy doing something active or productive.
5) Accept that some times your anxiety may be worse than others, and this is normal. Try and sit and tolerate your anxiety, and wait it out. It often will pass over time.
6) Give yourself permission to get professional help from your family doctor or a psychologist if you feel you need it. If anxiety worsens rather than getting better, or is impacting your everyday life with your child or children, seeking professional help can help you to process your new adjustment to motherhood and ultimately feel better.