Joanna Anastasia

Anxiety

5 things that helped me with anxiety

For me the moment that changed it all was when I become a mother for the first time. Before that moment, I was a relaxed positive thinking person. Sometimes worried never anxious. And then, all of the sudden things weren’t simple anymore, there where no right answers and doubt became my new norm. My stress levels started to rise every time parenting would get difficult- and with the first baby almost everything can be difficult and stressful. 

After I had my second kid I thought I would got over the the parenting stress- I knew more what I was doing and what to expect, didn’t I? And yet, the stressful situations multiplied one after another. Taking care of two young kids was in a way easier, but every time they would both cry I would feel the stress rising and I’d feel my heart beating faster. I’d get headaches and shoulder tension pains at the end of the day. Almost every day really. I’d anticipate the stressful situations – long travel with kids, single parenting  nights, etc. Anxiety slowly started to creep in. 

By the time I had my third kid I looked like a mom pro- balancing the baby in baby carrier and two older kids, cooking dinner while managing homework and baby whining. I wouldn’t get stressed over the unknown parenting situations anymore but the overall stress just got bigger- I knew all the things I had to balance. I’m not sure at what time I started to wake up with anxiety, but at some point I realized that feeling anxious became my new norm. 

Now, the fact that I’m a blogger for sure added up to it all. It’s an unpredictable, unstable self employment job and so, can be quite stressful too!

Why am I sharing this all with you? Well, I was talking to couple of girlfriends lately about how we feel anxious a lot, and how it feels lonely and difficult to explain to others- and each time these friends of mine where surprised to learn that me too I live with anxiety! But it felt good to see that we’re not alone. To share our ways of dealing with it. To lift each other up.

So today I wanted to tell you- if you too live with anxiety- you’re not alone. You’re not weak. You’re not doing anything wrong. 

And while consulting and getting medication is always an option ( that I highly encourage!) there are still some ways that you can help yourself-

  1. Be gentle with yourself– know your limits and don’t take too much on yourself.
  2. Practice gratitude– it’ll lower your anxiety !
  3. Go outside – a walk in the forest may have the same effect as medication but is cheaper and more natural.
  4. Deep breath – every time you feel your chest is heavy and you can’t breathe – prace deep intentional breathing.
  5. Practice perspective- think about what will be important in 5-10 years- and does your current stress matters.

And lastly, I think the most important part in dealing with anxiety is understanding what anxiety is. Now, I know that when you feel anxious it feels like something really is wrong and it feels very real. But remember- the anxious feeling you have is NOT a valid information! Even though it feels like it is.

It’s just your body’s way of reacting to what your body perceived as danger. Now remember- this is most likely only a perception- it can be that you have live for years under pressure ( hello modern motherhood, hello modern work conditions and work culture) and so your body simply puts you in state of awareness of danger. But you know what, even if that feeling is unpleasant, it’s not a valid information.

So, let’s be open and talk about it. Let’s practice self respect, gratitude and perspective- let’s go outside often and breathe intentionally- and it will get better!

But also remember, if you feel anxiety is paralyzing you and none of these things is helping you anymore do consult and get medical care! Because you are not weak my friend and you’re not doing nothing wrong- you’re actually very strong and you can get help and will get better!

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Are you worried, stressed or anxious?

If recently you haven't been feeling well, and you feel like there's jut too much problems around, you miht be stressed, simply worried or anxious. Here are some simple ways to tell which one is it, and how to cope. #selfhelp

We all know that being a parent is a very stressful job. We worry about these little humans from the very minute thy are born, sometimes even before they are born. There’s so may occasions to stress about: the feeding, the sleep or the lack of it, their development and safety. And so no wonder that motherhood and anxiety may go hand in hand.

But how much worry and stress in actually normal? Do all moms stress constantly? Are every-day fears really a part of mothering?

I think that a lot of moms do worry daily, but some of us live it more intensively. It’s still normal, as it’s a part of a human experience, but when it’s getting to the level of anxiety it’s not necessary healthy.

Because while worry is usually a temporary, mild form of stress, caused by realistic concerns, and quite easy to verbalize, and stress is a constant worry and a response to real danger. Anxiety is a more general state, often without a real danger involved, just a perception of something as dangerous, and it causes more suffering and is much more difficult to overcome. 

So recently I was asking myself, if my fears and worries are normal. (I was telling myself sure they are, since I’m a human, a mom, so fearing for safety of my kids is normal!) I worry about my kids having too much screen time, and I worry about them not getting enough exercise. These are my parenting worries.

But I’m also obsessing over car accidents. And I know that when our fears prevent us from normal functioning, this is when these re not just every day parenting fears. This is anxiety, and that’s becoming problematic. So since I’m scared of flying, driving on a highway and heights, these are points for me to work on. I still get myself in to these situations, but it takes a lot of my energy to do so. And these fears are closer to anxiety then worry, since there’s no real danger, it’s just my perception of it.

But since kids imitate all that they see, won’t they imitate my fears? How can I make sure not to pass my fears on to them? While am not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and while what I live might not be enough to put a label on it, I may  influence my kids perception of what’s risky and whats not. And I do wish them a life full of exploration, travel and marvel! And I want to feel better too!

So I was asking myself, how do I not let my kids get influenced by it? And how do I overcome it? How to navigate between motherhood and worry, stress and anxiety? Denial of the situation, or over-controlling every aspect of life, are common dealing mechanism with anxiety, but not very healthy ones.

So here’s what I try to do instead, and if you feel that you’re in the same boat, here’s what might help you too, whether you’re worried, stressed or anxious :

1. Admit your fears. Talk about them.

Sometimes the simple act of talking things over, verbalizing our fears and worries and being  listened without judgment is the best cure to mild stress and worry! So find that someone who can listen, and just talk things through. Usually by talking about our worries, we can find our own solutions, realize what is it that we really want, and realize how to deal with them.

Name your worries, even if they may be absurd. Try talking about how you feel when you think about your worries, and what would have to change so you could feel better. Ask yourself how things can change, and if the changes are realistic.

Although if talking about it does not help at all, then it may be a signal that what you live is closer to anxiety.

2. Slow down.

It may sound like a cliché, but if your everyday life is starting to be too stressful, it means it’s time for a change. You may need either a change of routine, either a change of expectations, because feeling stressed and anxious is an important signal from your body that something isn’t right, and that it needs to be fixed.

We tend to have high expectations of how our life should be like, how our work life, or SAHM life should look like. But remember, even though it’s possible to do it all,  it’s impossible to do it all at once! Having a  thriving carer and young kids, and a spotless home and a fulfilled personal life, and a perfect body, all at once, is more of a holly grail then an achievable plan. There are seasons in life, and they all come with different challenges. It’s ok to fail and it’s ok to do good enough, and not perfect. Because perfection is an illusion, it’s impossible, and it doesn’t exist!

3. Get more sleep.

It may sound like an even bigger cliché but lack of sleep correlates with depression and anxiety. And while I realize that for many parents sleep is more of a wish then the reality, sometimes it’s simply jeopardized by Netflix and social media. So put that phone aside, and got to sleep earlier!

Because in the end, in order to function properly our bodies need good fuel ( whole food, yes.) and sleep. It’s simple as that.

4. Don’t believe that through controlling all the details of life you’ll gain control over your fears. It’s the other way a round.

The more we fear certain situations and horrid scenarios the more these fears control us. And we might very well control every detail of our kids life, but they still might have an accident. Letting things go, and letting to lose control might be more liberating from fears then tying to control it all.

5. Seek professional help

If talking about worries, changing routine and expectations, and getting more sleep doesn’t help, then most likely what you live isn’t just simple worry, but anxiety.

And if on top of it, you or your family start seeing that your normal activities are being changed, because of your fears, it’s time for a consultation with a specialist. I know it’s difficult to admit, but sometimes we do need help. And while we all live though stressful situations, and while being a parent is full of worries and stress, once it becomes overwhelming and to big to control, it means that it’s time to consult and get real treatment!

So now I’m working on adjusting my routine (and expectations) , sleeping more, and verbalizing my worries more often. And for now it helped me a lot. And I hope that you too, after figuring out if you’re worried, stressed or anxious, can feel better with these simple changes!

Anxious mom

Anxious mom

I am a mom. And I get anxious because of my kids. I am an anxious mom.
I used to be careless and positive thinking. I used to believe that it’s going to be all good. Not any more.

If my kids are calm and sound asleep I need to check if they are breathing right.( yes they are). If they cry I worry that they suffer (probably not) or are deeply unhappy (most probably sad or uncomfortable but not deeply unhappy).

If they’ll wake up in the middle of the night crying, I run to see them worried that they might feel abandoned if I won’t came.

I worry about there health (without a reason). I worry about there safety. I imagine pedophiles, car accidents, kidnappers and deadly viruses. I read about these terrible things happening to other people kids, and then I can’t sleep. I get anxious.

But there are also every day issues that make me an anxious mom.

Just the other day my daughter came back from daycare with a runny nose. Again. And my baby started to have a runny nose. Again. And then I started to worry that they’ll both get ear infection. Again.

And soon I’ll be taking a flight with my baby, leaving my three year old with my hubby at home for a couple of days. Do I have to explain how many times I already imagined the plane crushing, leaving my daughter an orphan without a mom? Too many times, to tell you the truth. Way to many.

So now I’m asking myself, how do I deal with this? Do I want to live my life as an anxious mom? Do I want to worry all the time for no particular reason? Obviously I can’t stop my kids from living there life, only because I’m scared. It would be really owfull if I would. If I’d decided that they won’t ever go on a sleep over, because I’m scared of pedophiles. If we’d stop traveling because I’m imagining a plane crush.

And if I’d make them believe that a world is a dangerous place and that they should never trust any stranger then they might never get kidnaped, but they might never fall in love neither. If they see me scared because of them, they’ll believe that they too should be scared. And I don’t want my kids to be scared of living there lives.

So I’m trying to imagine positive scenarios. I stopped reading about child abuse. I breathe.
I’d love to say that I do yoga, but I don’t. I’m to busy lazy and I eat chocolate instead,which works just fine for me ;).

Honestly I think that anxiety is a part of being a parent, a price that we pay for loving someone so deeply. Also it’s biologics way of making sure that we’ll take care of our offspring. So I don’t think I’ll ever totally stop being an anxious mom. But I’m trying to stay rational and not get overwhelmed by my fears. I don’t want anything bad happening to my kids, but it would be terrible and heart braking if they wouldn’t live anything worth living because of my fears.

And you, are you an anxious parent? How do you deal with it?