I distinctly remember the day I was going to be leaving the hospital with my son. I remember looking down at him, scared to death and saying a prayer, asking God to please help me to not cause any harm to him. The reality was, I knew nothing about being a mother, and I knew nothing about taking care of a tiny human. But God knew this, yet He gave me a healthy, bouncing baby boy.
Thus was the beginning of a life of mom anxiety.
Anxiety—What Is It and Who Has it?
Each day I meet people and interact with people who are very open about their anxiety, yet there are others who suffer in silence.
How prevalent is anxiety?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million adults in the United States. That’s approximately 18% of the population! Anxiety is basically a feeling of inner turmoil that can manifest itself as worry, fear, nervousness and in more severe cases can completely debilitate someone from performing normal duties. Anxiety is complex and can be caused by multiple factors, such as genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. But this list omits one very important factor that causes anxiety, and that is being a mom.
Anxiety is also infiltrating our kids’ lives at epic proportions. Anxiety can affect anyone at any time but as moms, we must start by recognizing and addressing our own anxiety.
Causes of Anxiety for Moms
We live in a world where we know everything about everyone almost immediately. Social media provides us with minute-by-minute updates of what people, eat, wear, where they go, etc., because we post everything. For some, it’s become a habit. This habit results in pressure and high expectations; seeing people do all of the wonderful things makes you feel pressure to do everything they are doing and do it better! Pinterest alone (without intending to) has increased moms’ anxiety levels exponentially. Here’s an example of a Pinterest picture and what actually resulted:
For the mom whose expectations were to create the lamb cake above, she will feel quite anxious because hers ended up looking like a scary pig! This is one of the main causes of anxiety for moms and that is self-imposed pressure. We think in order to be a good mom that we have to be perfect. Our homes must be perfect, our kids must be perfect, we need to look perfect and the list goes on. Nearly all of this is self-imposed. All our kids want is our attention and our love. Another cause of anxiety for moms is we pack our schedules so full that we leave no time for ourselves to recoup. We will never be able to rid ourselves of things that must be done, but what we can do is learn how to fight anxiety.
How to Fight Anxiety
Feelings of worry or anxiousness are something that everyone feels from time-to-time, but the key is to know how to fight when you are overwhelmed with those feelings.
- Pray and meditate on scripture about anxiety. Start with these verses to pray over your anxious child. They can help you too!
- Take time for yourself – self-care is one of the most important things you can do. Think of when you are on an airplane and the flight attendants are demonstrating what to do in case of a loss in cabin pressure . . . they tell you if you have kids, put your mask on first. So it is when you are a busy mom—take care of yourself first! Lack of self-care usually ends poorly. Never feel guilty for taking care of yourself—it isn’t selfish, because what you are doing is giving your kids the best version of you, so self-care is actually selfless. It’s all in how you look at it!
- If possible, find someone to help you overcome a bump – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, embrace it and face it head-on. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and realize that you cannot do it all. Asking for help during a difficult time could be the push you need to get over that bump. The feeling that you have to be superwoman will end up poorly . . . someone will be unhappy or exhausted.
- Embrace camaraderie – join a group, club, or even take a class. Involving yourself in an activity with others will give you an outlet from your everyday life.
When to Seek Help
Many moms struggle with anxiety because of pressure and unrealistic expectations. But for some, anxiety runs deep and may require more than merely tuning out social media and avoiding Pinterest. According to Psychology Today, there are six signs of when you should seek help for anxiety and they are:
- Physical Symptoms
- Cognitive Symptoms
- Procrastination and Avoidance
- Overthinking and Constant Worrying
- Feeling Agitated and Restless
- Panic Attacks
Anxiety can be debilitating if it isn’t dealt with. As a mom who has a million and one things to do and think about, recognizing the difference between anxiety that is manageable and anxiety that needs intervention is important. Ensuring that you are healthy benefits your entire family.
Anxiety Isn’t a Sin, But It Can Glorify God
Over the last few years, anxiety has gotten a lot of attention in the media. People now have a better understanding of it, but more importantly, people are more open to discussing their anxiety without fear of being labeled. Moms have always had a lot on their plate, but many times their feelings of anxiousness were swept under the rug and they were made to feel inadequate or flawed. Today it’s different, thankfully. By recognizing your anxiety and using some of the methods mentioned above to fight it, you can become a testimony. The Bible says in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” By relying the Spirit of God in your life and actively giving your anxiety to God, you can glorify Him. It isn’t His will that we struggle with anxiety, that was never His intention, yet many times we feel like we have to handle everything ourselves. Using the methods talked about earlier, giving your anxiety to God, and allowing Him to show you what you need to do is the best solution. When we keep our anxiety, we are in essence saying, “No God, You can’t handle this, I need to take care of it.” Now that is not God’s intention at all. Actively praying, outlining all of your anxiety, and speaking scripture daily will help you on your way to overcoming the anxiety in your life.