As any mom will tell you, motherhood is both emotionally and physically challenging. You may lose countless hours of sleep in the first year or two of your child’s life (sometimes longer) and spend days chasing toddlers around the house while your kids are young, but the challenges don’t end there. You’ll hold your breath when they’re up to bat in junior high, be heartbroken when they strike out and ecstatic when they hit a home run. When it’s time to send them off to college, you’ll feel an emptiness and sadness yet hold hope for the promises the future holds for them.
There’s no question: Motherhood is hard. And sometimes, moms are simultaneously struggling with anxiety or depression, or perhaps the stress of raising children and managing a family exacerbates an underlying mental health disorder, leaving many moms feeling as though they’re not up to par with this whole parenting thing. Here’s how to cope with anxiety or depression without losing confidence in yourself as a parent.
Get Things Off Your Chest
The great thing about motherhood is that other mothers can often empathize with their cohorts, having faced similar challenges with their own families. Whether you have a child with special needs or are struggling with keeping up with demands at work and home, odds are you have a friend or family member who has been there, too.
Reach out for help. Find someone you can talk to; often simply getting things off your chest can provide an immense sense of relief, particularly when you’re reassured that you’re not alone in either your challenges or your feelings. When you suffer from anxiety or depression and are also coping with difficult life changes or stressful circumstances, don’t ignore your emotional needs. If you don’t care for yourself, you’re not able to be your best self for your kids.
Ask for Help
Today, there are many single-parent homes; in two-parent homes, most parents both work outside the home. There’s also an increasing awareness that moms can’t do it all, a welcome shift that often means mothers today can feel less guilt about reaching out for help from their partners, other family members, or outside help.
If the demands of keeping your home neat and tidy coupled with managing a full-time career and caring for your children are increasing your symptoms of anxiety or depression, look for ways to minimize these demands. Prioritization is key. It’s not the end of the world if your laundry isn’t always done, folded, and put away, for instance; it’s more important that your kids have their homework done and have eaten dinner. If your budget allows, consider outsourcing some of the mundane day-to- day tasks that can be done by anyone.
Hire a housekeeper to clean your home once weekly or every other week, for instance, so you’re not constantly worrying about when you’ll have time to mop the floors. Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to take your dog for a walk once or twice a day, or even a few times each week. Getting these tasks off your plate gives you more time to spend on the things that matter most.
Appreciate Your Heightened Sensitivity as a Gift
Mothers, in general, tend to be more in-tune with emotions, sometimes picking up on subtle clues that something isn’t right in their child’s world. This emotional sensitivity is one of the gifts that make mothers so very valuable in their children’s lives, yet it can also be detrimental in the midst of emotional upheaval.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by personal problems that the typical upsets in your daily life seem like too much to bear? Many moms reach this juncture and feel like simply shutting down at one point or another, but mothers coping with anxiety or depression may feel continuously overwhelmed. When you start to feel like giving up, remember that your intuition is the gift that enables you to be in-tune with your children like no one else can.
Above all, don’t forget to take time out for yourself. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, getting ample, quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, and minimizing unnecessary stressors will help you better manage your symptoms, but you should also talk to your healthcare provider to find out if medications could help. Remember that motherhood is hard, and your heightened sensitivity is a blessing – when you take care of you to control your symptoms, you’re able to be the best mom you can be.
Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student, who loves providing reliable health and medical resources for PublicHealthLibrary.org users. She knows how difficult it can be to sift through the mountains of health-related information on the web. She co-created the site with a friend as a way to push reputable information on health topics to the forefront, making them easier and quicker to find.
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