Worrying about everything is part of being a parent. We fret about whether we’re raising our kids right, and if we’re helping them grow into happy, healthy and productive members of society. We hope we’re not screwing them up too badly, and maybe — just maybe — that they’ll turn out smarter and stronger than we did.
It’s part of the job description when you become mom or dad. However, sometimes that worry becomes something more, turning into full-blown anxiety. If being a parent is hard, being a parent with anxiety is nearly impossible. Here are some smart ways to manage your kiddos when you can’t ease your fears.
Realize You’re Not Alone
No one likes to talk about mental health due to the negative stigma around the topic. Plus, popular media likes to showcase people with mental illness as monsters. It’s no surprise people want to hide their diagnoses.
Your first step as a parent with anxiety is to realize that you’re not alone. Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting as many as one out of every five adults in the U.S.
Without support and treatment, this issue can be nearly impossible to deal with. Even if you don’t seek professional help, realizing you’re not alone can change your entire perspective.
Take Care Of Yourself
As a parent, your default behavioral setting is to put your kids first. You cancel your appointments and put off your hobbies in favor of taking them to the dentist or driving them to soccer practice. While this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, as a parent living with anxiety, you need to take time to take care of yourself. If you’re giving everything to others and not keeping anything for yourself, eventually you won’t have anythig left.
Take time for self-care, whatever that phrase means to you. Self-care for parents can be tricky, especially if you’ve got little ones underfoot and are ready to collapse into your bed. Just remember this phrase — self-care isn’t selfish. Taking care of yourself, even if it means a quick five-minute meditation, will make you a better parent in the long run. Plus, it makes it easier for you to manage your anxiety while still being there for your kids.
Talk To Your Kids
It’s tempting to hide your struggle with anxiety or mental illness from your kids. However, the chances are high that, even if you’re not talking about it, they can sense something is off. If you keep it a secret and leave it to their imagination, they may think it’s something to do with them or that they’re the problem.
Talk to your kids about mental health and mental illness. You don’t need to talk about the details of your anxiety or what triggers your panic attacks. Instead, teach them about anxiety and other mental illnesses, which can help them grow into more empathetic individuals.
Mental illnesses are more common than most people think. If we want to get rid of the stigma surrounding them, we need to start teaching the new generation that it isn’t something to hide or be ashamed of.
Plus, by talking to your kids about mental health, you give yourself an out if you have a terrible attack. Instead of trying to hide it, you can say you’re feeling anxious. Ask for a few minutes of silence, or play a game to see who can go the longest without talking. It’s easier to deal with symptoms while teaching your children to be accepting and empathetic of others.
Contrary to popular belief, talking to your kids about mental health isn’t going to mess them up. Instead, it will help make the world a more welcoming place. As children grow up and head out into the world, they will be more understanding of those with mental illnesses and erase the harmful stigma.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
The negative stigma surrounding mental health tends to encourage us to weather things on our own. Some people can manage their symptoms without assistance. However, if you’re not one of those people, you’re not without options.
Plenty of resources are available, from therapy and medication to support groups and more. Each is designed to help you manage anxiety without allowing it to negatively impact your life. If you feel like you’re getting dragged under, reach out for a lifeline and let it support you until you can figure things out.
You’ve Got This
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent with anxiety is even harder — but it’s not impossible. Reach out for help if you need it, and keep the conversation about mental health open with your kids. You’re not alone, even if your anxiety tells you that you are. You have the power to do it.