motherhood and the anxiety switch
On Tuesday morning Poet woke up with mosquito bites on her feet. This isn’t particularly unusual during an Australian summer but considering I’d seen a red back spider the day before, I was a little concerned. I rubbed some lavender oil into her feet to stop the itching and I didn’t think about it again till I picked her up from pre-school. I watched her put on her sandals on, saw the pinkish dots and all-of-a-sudden I was wracked with anxiety and ready to take her to the doctor, regardless of the fact that she wasn’t complaining about itching or stinging. “They feel like nothing,” she said.
I chatted to a few friends at the school gate and we all decided that she seemed fine and I was probably just worrying unnecessarily. And then we spoke about motherhood and worry and the fact that as soon as we birthed our firstborns it was like an anxiety switch went on. Even the most carefree and confident among us experiences some sort of motherhood-induced anxiety.
Today, after a somewhat sleepless night, I started thinking about my anxiety triggers; many of which are unavoidable at this stage of motherhood. Exhaustion is pretty powerful at setting off my switch, as is solo-parenting and a sudden influx of work. And when they all combine? Pass the rescue remedy!
Over the years I’ve come to notice the early, physical effects of anxiety and I understand the importance of working through it sooner rather than later. A few things that help:
– early nights : even if my sleep is broken, if I can get a few good hours in before midnight I’m in a much better frame of mind the next morning. I follow a bedtime routine and make sure lights are out before 10pm.
– listmaking : with a constant stream of emails hitting my inbox, various stories that need to be written and photo editing to be done, I can quickly become overwhelmed with work. I find that the lists that go ’round in my head aren’t all that realistic and if I’m not conscious of my words, I can easily utter this one (which only exacerbates my anxiety). But, when I write to-dos on my list (which is attached to the fridge) I can see what needs to be done and subsequently, I don’t have to remind myself to do it later.
– exercise : even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block, getting out of the house, out of my head, and working up a sweat can ease my worry and boost my mood.
What are your anxiety triggers and how do you work through them?