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Before having a child, I had never been much of a worrier and had never really dealt with anxiety. I even sort of thought I was too tough to feel anxiety. Turns out, anxiety doesn’t care how tough you are. Anxiety doesn’t care how anything you are. It sneaks up on you until all of a sudden you’re in a full on panic attack with no idea how it happened. And no idea what to do. All ya’ll who live through this on a daily basis, YOU are the tough ones, not me. Cuz that shit is real. Let’s get some relief for that anxiety real quick.
The first time I had a panic attack, I didn’t even know what was happening. There was no reason for it. We were just driving somewhere when all of a sudden, my stomach got all butterfly-ee and it felt like SOMETHING was wrong. But I didn’t know what.
How can you fix something when you don’t know what’s wrong?? It definitely threw me for a loop. Once I figured out what was happening though, I slowly figured out a few things that helped me manage it. Here are 5 things that helped relieve my anxiety.
1. Deep Breaths
There are a few different ways you can do this, so find what works for you. I found that just breathing with deep, slow breaths didn’t always work to reduce my anxiety. So, whenever I felt those butterflies starting to work their way up, I would breath out. Hard. I imagined pushing the anxiety down to the bottom of my stomach and out. I really am just pushing my diaphragm down, but the visualization combined with the feeling of pushing really works for me. If it doesn’t work the first time, I repeat this until it goes away. Or employ some of the other ways mentioned below to relieve your anxiety.
This can be whatever works as a distraction. I often get anxious while driving. Sometimes for no reason, but usually if the driving is stressful. We recently purchased a large truck and parking that thing can certainly cause some anxiety. So if deep breathing doesn’t work then I use music. The radio is usually playing anyways so I’ll hum along with the music. If I’m extra stressed, I sing really loud. Like, obnoxiously loud. It makes me feel kinda silly so then I’m laughing at myself instead of paying attention to the stress in the situation (if I’m driving, I’m definitely still paying attention to my driving). Find something that distracts you well and use it to help reduce your anxiety.
3. Talk Yourself Down
Take a second and think about why you’re feeling like you are. If there is a reason for your anxiety, work your way through it mentally. Or out loud if you’re alone. I’m always talking to myself these days. 🙂 I suggested something similar to this when you’re feeling guilty on my mom guilt post.
I’ll stick to my driving example. If I make a mistake while driving, I not only feel like a complete idiot, but my heart rate usually spikes, I get a little sweaty and a lot shaky. When this happens, I’ll stop freaking out for a sec and tell myself: “Yes, you made a mistake, but everyone is okay. I’m not a bad driver, I just goofed up. It’s okay.” And move on. I let. It. Go.
Figure out why you’re feeling what you are, whether it’s guilt, embarrassment, shame, anger, or any other negative emotion. Let yourself feeeeel it. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel it. And then let. It. Go.
Anytime you find yourself revisiting the incident and the emotion. Feel it. Tell yourself it’s okay to feel it. And let. It. Go. Don’t hang on to the negative emotions, because you’ll get yourself in a negative emotional loop that can be tough to get out of.
Try using the statements below to get yourself started.
I’m feeling anxious because…(whatever reason you have)
It’s okay to feel anxious (you don’t even have to add anything here if you don’t want to)
I don’t need to feel anxious because…(tell yourself how awesome you are)
I’m feeling anxious because…I made a mistake driving, and the person I cut off (or whatever) thinks I’m the worst person in the world, and I am the worst person because I’m such an idiot. I can’t believe I just did that. Did I just do that? And he honked at me. Oh my goodness, that was so awful. (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)
It’s okay to feel anxious because I did mess up.
I don’t need to feel anxious because…it is done and over. This one incident does not define me as a driver or even as a person. I am beautiful, smart, a great driver and totally amazing.
4. Remove Yourself from the Situation
This isn’t always possible, unfortunately. But if you can, leave the situation or place that’s making you stressed or anxious. For example, when I get stressed driving, I can’t just leave the truck. BUUUT, I can pull over and get out. Walk a little or shake my body out. Or if you’re talking to someone and they’re stressing you out. It’s OKAY to tell them that you can’t handle the emotions at that moment and to come back to it later. Going to a different room, taking a few deep breaths, maybe even humming a bit (haha), and then coming back may be all it takes. Sometimes it may take a bit more, but get yourself calm and get back to it.
5. Find Your Confidence
I am now backing the truck into parking spots like a pro. Or I avoid tiny ass parking lots. Sometimes I give myself a little pep talk: “You’re a badass woman who can back this truck into any spot.” Or whatever it is I’m doing. But it took me a few months to get to that level of confidence.
You are the best person in the world for taking care of your little one(s). And you CAN handle whatever comes at you. You have so far, haven’t you? Give yourself some credit! 🙂
I use driving as an example throughout this post since I’m in the car fairly often these days, but adapt these steps to your specific situation and what works for you in order to get some relief from anxiety!
I found myself getting anxious going grocery shopping, going to a new workout class, after getting baby’s shots or for no reason at all. There are a lot of hormones in your system that are helping you with things, but also wreaking havoc with other things like your emotions. You did just grow and birth a human being. And now you have to keep him or her alive. Give yourself a break. You’re doing juuuust fine.
You may continue to feel anxiety, but the more often you keep your mind from dwelling in that anxious state, the less likely you’ll be to return there. You gotta train your brain to not be anxious.
Now if you find that anxiety is consuming your life and making it tough to do things, go get some help. Run, don’t walk. Make the damn appointment. Your mental health is so incredibly important for you AND for your baby and your loved ones. If you feel ashamed or embarrassed of how you’re feeling, don’t be! You’re allowed to feel!! You’re allowed to get help!! You are still an amazing human being. You deserve to live without anxiety.
Now go out there and get ’em!