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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Mom Anxiety Factor: How to Cope

 By: Rachelle Salinger


In a world filled to the brim with information, so much has already been written and said about parenting. If you immerse yourself in the books, the interviews, the tips (and the unsolicited advice from your own mother), you still never truly understand parenting until you are right smack in the middle of it yourself.

As you probably know by now, one of the most common things that people say about parenting is that it is quite possibly the toughest job on earth. After all, it is a skill that’s not formally taught, and one in which instinct plays a large part. Nothing truly prepares you for it.

Being a first-time mom can be quite a ride. It is a thrilling new chapter in your life, but it can also be a major cause of anxiety and stress. Such feelings are a natural part of parenthood and you do need a certain amount of anxiety to be aware of your baby’s safety. But don’t let it rob you of the joys of being a mom. Every child is different, and we’re all in the same boat when it comes to figuring out the best way to parent in tough situations. Here’s how to deal with mom anxiety so you can spend more quality time enjoying each other.

Breathe in, breathe out. Anxiety can be an overpowering emotion. It is very important to have a sense of control over it, so that it doesn’t end up controlling you. When anxiety sets in, pathways to logical thought are temporally severed. When your body detects this, it puts you in a fight or flight mode. This may work well for the military, but if you’re a mom, it’s a different story.

Try this: when you find yourself in a stressful situation, try to remove yourself from it for a moment, then slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once your breathing slows down, your heart will calm down too. Your brain will register this and say "Okay, it’s not so bad. I’m going to be fine."

If you’re starting to have more serious problems, like difficulty sleeping, or panic attacks, call your doctor or a therapist trained in helping people with anxiety.

Don’t lose yourself. Parenting can take a toll. A lot of women dedicate themselves entirely to being a great mom, and often, when the weight of this challenge sets in, they end up staring at the mirror and wondering who it is they see in the reflection. They wonder if the person they used to be is still there underneath the "mom." While it is laudable to devote yourself so wholeheartedly to the family, it is important to remember that you’re a total person.

Being a mother is just one of the many roles that you are going to play. When the anxieties of parenting weigh in, focus on the core qualities that make you who you are, and channel that strength. Or strive to find a fun-loving free spirit so you can easily cope with stressful situations. Being a mom is among the best things you will ever do in life, but don’t forget that there’s more to you, too.

Try this: pamper yourself. Go ahead, it’s okay. Moms are allowed to take breaks! Dress up in a lovely dress, put on some sophisticated hair accessories (they are all the rage in fashion trends now), spritz on your favorite perfume. Take care of yourself by eating well, getting regular exercise and trying to get a good night’s sleep. In the end, when you are at your best inside and out, it won’t only benefit you, but your family too.

Two heads are better than one. Remember "for better or for worse"? Here’s the perfect time to remind your spouse about it. While women are better equipped instinctively, it is very important to involve your husband in parenting. You need his support as as much as he needs yours in this adventure. Potentially stressful situations also become more bearable when you know that there is someone who has your back, ready to help you face your anxieties.

Try this: for starters, if the two of you are parents-to-be, look for baby gifts together, plan out how the nursery will look, and buy baby gear together. By involving him in what may seem to be trivial activities like these, it actually helps him ease into the "parent" role and reminds him once again that parenting is a team effort.

If it’s a baby girl, do a team tag. Pick adorable hair clips for her together. As baby hair can be wispy and fine, choose clips that are non-slip so they stay in her hair. Try them on yourself, too, so you know if they are too tight or they pull at the hair. A baby’s scalp is very sensitive, so even the smallest accessories like hair clips need to be soft, gentle and safe.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no magic formula for success. As we said earlier, children are different. One parenting style may work well with one child, and be less effective with another. Parenting is a skill that you learn on-the-job. You will make mistakes; but the good news is that you will learn from them and get better over time. Don’t let anxieties and difficulties get in the way of this wonderful journey. Just make sure your baby is well taken care of and loved, so that she grows up into a happy and healthy tot, and eventually, into a unique woman just like her mom.

Rachelle writes for No Slippy Hair Clippy, purveyor of the finest (and first!) non-clip hair accessories for girls of all ages. These award-winning products are designed and manufactured in the United States using only the highest quality materials, featuring the finest craftsmanship and offering fun and unique styles.

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