Wednesday, March 6, 2019

7 Anxiety Coping Strategies for Moms

I am not a medical professional. 
This post is my opinion based on what works for me.
 If you are depressed and need help, please call 1-800-273-8255.

Anxiety has been a way of life for me since I was a kid. As a child when I was anxious, my chest would get heavy and I would start taking deep breaths. It felt like I had run a race but couldn't catch my breath afterwards. Two times, that I can remember, it caused me to hyperventilate.

As an adult, I still struggle with anxiety. I can be having a normal day and then suddenly I recognize that I'm taking deep breaths and my chest feels heavy. I can be doing dishes or cooking and out of no where I can feel the symptoms.

Before I went to see a doctor, my choices for when I felt anxious became quite unhealthy. My biggest problem was that I didn't realize I was anxious. I had felt this way for so long I just thought it was normal. Food was my drug of choice.

My anxiety got really bad after I quit my job to take care of my dad and I became a stay at home mom. The exhaustion and stresses of everyday life caused my anxiety to escalate. I had gotten so bad that my husband suggested to me that I might want to consider talking to someone. 

I had spiraled and was in a really bad cycle. I was trying to control something that I couldn't do on my own. I had to make some changes in order to survive this.

I had to make choices to better myself for my family. After praying and keep track of my mood for a while I made some choices.

Choosing to Talk
Talking is so important! I can't stress this enough. I talk to my husband and my 3 best friends. I

usually send a text just asking for them to pray for me because my anxiety is kicking in. They all understand that it's not something I want nor something that I can control, so they are very supportive. I also usually let me kids know how I'm feeling. My daughter is now old enough to understand that I'm ok it's just I'm feeling anxious and may need some extra grace that day.

If you don't feel comfortable talking to your family, talk to a therapist. That's what they are there for and it helps. When my therapist said, "Nothing changes if nothing changes" it was my turning point. I recognized that I had a choice.

Choosing Medication
Being on medication doesn't mean that I don't have faith. It means that I have a mental illness and need medicine to help it. It's not a cure but it takes the edge off and allows me to rationalize my thinking. It helps me to focus and allows me to thinking clearly enough to make healthy choices.

It took 3 different types of pills before I found one that I was happy with. I didn't settle for feeling ok. Clarity of mind was my goal and until I was there I didn't stop changing medications.

If you feel like this might be an avenue for you, call your doctor. They will get you started and help you find the right choice of medication for you. It's a hard step to admit. It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you less of a person. It means you need help. 

Choosing to Be Silent
One day in my morning devotions God gave me Exodus 14:14 (ESV). It says, "The LORD will fight for you, just be SILENT".

I have taken this verse quite literally and if I'm feeling anxious, rather than trying to fight the anxiety, I take a nap, take a shower or just go to my room and make it dark. Sometimes I just need to step away from it all.  I try to be silent and pretty much just clear my senses from as much as possible.

I have found that deep cleansing breaths can be helpful as well. However sometimes it feels more like I'm fighting it which then makes it worse.

Find a quiet place for yourself. It may be your closet, your bathroom, or your car. Close your eyes and just soak in the silence. If you have kids, make sure they are in a safe place and that they know where you are going to be. Set a timer and tell them not to come to the room until it beeps.

Choosing to Eat Healthier
I noticed that my anxiety was worse on days that I felt run down and sluggish. Food plays a big part in this, so I started snacking on fruit throughout the day to keep my sugar balanced and my energy up.

Along with eating more fruits, I started eating a salad a day. Once I started this practice, I realized I felt much better after eating. I felt less stuffed and wasn't as blah (that's a word right?) afterwards.

Eating healthy has so many benefits apart from mental health. It balances your hormones, your sugar, and as an added bonus you might go down a pant size. Woot! Woot! 

Choosing to Go on Daily Walks
I hate exercise, I don't like to sweat! But I knew that exercise helped build endorphins and the sunshine and fresh air would help me. Plus then I could get the kids outside for some exercise as well. On day when my anxiety is at a peak, I might go on 2 intense walks.

Exercise is key. It doesn't matter what you do, just move! Try to move for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember it's not about losing weight it's about feeling mentally and physically better.

Choosing to Be Creative
I would not consider myself an artistic person, nor would I call myself creative. However, I knew there was a study done on art therapy to help with anxiety, so I decided to start by coloring with my daughter.

This year I bought a planner and bought stickers to decorate the weeks. I loved the way each week looked and the creativity it allowed me to use. When I was finished I felt peace and everyday that I use my planner I can't help but smile because it's pretty and makes me so happy.

Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, there is something that you can do. If it's getting a coloring book and just coloring do it. Colors have a way of making you feel better and bring joy to your life.

Choosing to Rest
Getting enough rest is vital to help me manage my anxiety. I am an early bird but I need to take a power nap in the afternoon to make it through the day. My family knows that if I say I need to close my eyes, they need to let me. It's truly a win win! Doctors recommend between 6-8 hours of sleep. I'll be honest I run on about 5, but on Thursday mornings I turn off my alarm and sleep until the baby wakes me up. I also usually go to bed around 9:30-10:00 most days. I try to keep my rhythm sleep consistent.

Even though I've made all of these choices I still have bad days.  Dealing with my anxiety by fighting it has been habit for a long time. In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg calls this the habit loop (cue...routine...reward).  I've had to find some major will power and dig in deep to be able to make these choices.

Eating has been my hardest habit to change. Just telling myself to make healthier choices doesn't make me want to do it. I WANT to bake brownies and chocolate chip cookies but that is only going to be a temporary fix. I know how I'll feel afterwards and I'll still be in the cycle. Eating fruits and vegetables and taking walks isn't a magic formula. Making healthy choices doesn't cure my anxiety, but they definitely help.

Life is about choices. However I don't get to decide when and where my anxiety will strike. BUT I get to choose how I'm going to react to it.

My guess is that I'm not the only one who deals with anxiety. Is there something you do to help you with anxiety?


Do you have a child that struggles with anxiety? Here is a list of 25 ideas to help them. I wish I had this when I was a kid.

I'm praying for you! You're doing a great job mama!





Get your copy of 25 Anxiety Coping Strategies to Use with Kids.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! You are singing my tune! I had problems with anxiety for more than 30 years, and finally did start taking anti-anxiety medication. I am also a devoted Christian. I think needing medication for anxiety is like needing medication for bronchitis, or any other illness. God bless you!

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  2. I am so glad that you were able to find help. I agree, it is like taking medicine for a cold or even insolin. It fills in a gap where your body can't. God bless!

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  3. I have found that rest or sleep is the number one way to combat anxiety in my life. If I can get enough sleep, I can utilize many coping skills to address anxiety and triggers. If I don't have enough rest, I seem to lose all ability to do so.

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    1. YES! This is so true. I guard my bedtime as if it were water in the desert. Sleep is a priority for me to be able to make good coping choices.

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