I often feel anxious. I am trying to step away from labels but at certain times of the month especially, I cannot deny waking up with almost crippling anxiety.
I often worry that my girls mirror this and pick this up from me, which of course feeds the anxiety and acts to compound the ever present ‘mum guilt’.
As mothers, it is almost impossible to deal with our anxiety in isolation. We have dependants. We have little ones who look to us to figure out how they should behave and deal with difficult situations or feelings that arise for them. We are busy. We are working, we are always ‘on’. We often feel overwhelmed.
I used to accept that this was my life. I just had to get on with getting through the day. I would do everything I could to stop thinking about how I felt. I’d distract myself, beat myself up for not coping better and somehow struggle on. I was often irritable, tearful, sometimes hysterical (ask my kids;)) but mainly profoundly unconnected to what I needed and what my body needed. Physically AND mentally.
So, what has changed? I am definitely not 100% there, but what I have added into the equation is self-compassion. When I feel anxious, I get curious and try figure out why rather than feeling ‘pathetic’ or comparing myself to other seemingly more together mums.
I get outside and run. I listen to podcasts and think about whats going on for me rather than pushing it away and just trying to get on with it. I do some breathing exercises (not often enough) or do some gentle yoga to connect with my body and try and work out what I need at that moment.
For new mums especially, it is almost impossible to carve out a little space for themselves to think about what they need. But the first step towards change is asking for help, recognising you need it and being compassionate to yourself.
Let the mum guilt go. You’re doing just great.