Yesterday my anxiety was so low it was nearly gone! It was still a difficult day but instead of that tight, panicky, frustrated ball in my chest I was breathing deeply and feeling so sure that everything is going to be alright. It’s not necessarily going to turn out the way I want it to, but it’s going to be great either way.
I’ve been having so much trouble with anxiety on and off since becoming a mom, and almost all of my friends are feeling it on some level also. It’s the best adventure ever, but it’s also the hardest job I’ve ever done and the pressure to do it “right” is high and also present almost everywhere I turn in the form of articles, blog and Facebook posts and other parent’s anxiety.
I know it gets in the way. It’s a natural part of having your heart on the outside of your body, but it keeps me from allowing the kids to feel their independence, make more decisions on their own and to hand out fair consequences. It gets in the way of me enjoying this time in life. I’ve also found that, just like the message in the movie Inside Out, I was burning out and so I stopped crying and suppressed my negative emotions, trying to keep things smooth and upbeat for my family. But I also lost the highs also. I wasn’t really able to feel true joy. Just sort of an “okay, not okay” type of emotional scale.
It sort of reminds me of driving- I used to pass people a lot and be very focused on staying at my desired speed. I found that it made the trip last longer because I was focused on boring things like other drivers the whole time. When I adjusted myself to the speed of the person in front of me, slowed down and just sang along to some music, the trip went faster. I just accepted that I was going to arrive when I was going to arrive. And I focused on enjoying the trip.
So here are some things I did to try to ease my anxiety:
I started up with a therapist, and on the first day I brought this to her, and told her what I wanted and what was missing. We’ve only met about four times and I already feel tons better.
I started exercising with a friend and on my own regularly. I have goals but I’m not worried about meeting them on any kind of schedule, I’m in it for the mood maintenance and energy benefits.
I started crying with intention: if something hurts badly enough to cry, I do. I’ve been letting myself cry during emotional movies, sad moments when I feel rejected or hurt, just letting it out. Not so much that my kids think I cry all the time, but it’s okay to cry when you’re sad and I want them to know that being a grown up doesn’t mean stuffing your emotions. It’s been a huge release. I feel amazing when it’s over and I actually let things go faster once I’ve grieved them.
I’ve started learning to meditate. I found some guided meditations on YouTube and they help so much when I listen to them as I’m falling asleep. They replace my running to-do list and insecurities with relaxing and uplifting images and puts me to sleep with an easy mind.
I need more quiet alone time in my life and right now that’s just not an option. The kids are high energy, high touch, needy balls of social interaction and that’s just how it’s going to be. They wake up early and struggle to keep us up late and until school starts its non stop. But keeping up with self care is helping me survive!
How do you do it? What are your most important self care routines??