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Becca doesn’t know what to do because she is paralyzed with anxiety. How can she protect her son? What if he gets in with the wrong crowd? Tries drugs? Fails in school? She wakes up every morning with fresh worries on her mind, and by nightfall, her heart is heavy with those worries.
Do Becca’s thoughts sound familiar? She represents the countless parents who share the same (or similar) fears each day. If you struggle with parental anxieties, it is important to take steps to increase your resiliency and bounce back when things don’t go well. This will not only make you healthier for your own sake, but also make you a stronger parent.
To reduce anxiety and increase resilience, take the following C.L.A.S.S.
Resiliency doesn’t happen in isolation, but anxiety flourishes in it. Stay connected. Many of us feel very little desire to reach out when we’re fearful, but this is when it’s most important to do so. Connect with your spouse, parents, family and friends. An external support system will help build your internal one.
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the things we fear that we forget there are also things to smile about. If your anxiety has displaced your sense of humor, dig it out and start laughing again. Find some happy people to hang out with. Get out of your head for a bit. Humor is a great stress reliever because it protects you from a tendency towards being overly serious about situations and helps you cope.
With so many voices telling you to calm down, you may feel like a failure for feeling anxiety. You may be under the impression you are “wrong” or a “bad person” because you have these feelings. This is far from true. Your success as a parent is not measured by a lack of anxiety because anxiety is part of parenting.
It’s important to learn how to manage it and focus on your strengths, but the hard fact is that it’s part of your realityOnce you accept that anxiety is normal and expected, it becomes less of an issue. You can then shift your focus from trying to deny it or eradicate it, to managing it and countering it with resiliency.
When your days are riddled with anxiety, it can be hard to feel strong. You may even forget that you have strengths. Don’t convince yourself that you are weak because you have anxious thoughts. Remember, these are part of life as a parent and do not define you. You have other traits and great qualities to focus on and to offer others. Remind yourself of these each day.
As you seek to use your strengths to help others, you can easily stretch yourself too thin. This is also a common issue. In an effort to be everything to everyone (a.k.a. the perfect parent) you risk burnout. It’s important to set boundaries and limits. Learn to say no. Give yourself some reserves so you have them when you need to recover from the unexpected (which is the definition of resiliency.) It’s okay to not do everything.
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