Anxiety disorders can impact everyone, including kids, teens, and adults of all backgrounds. Parents are most definitely not immune, but many parents struggle to reach out for help or talk about their anxiety. So, how do you manage anxiety as a parent?
First, let’s talk about anxiety disorders and what they are. Statistically speaking, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions, with 18.1% of adults in the United States alone affected in any given year. Anxiety disorders include but aren’t limited to:
- Generalized anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive worry related to various topics that lasts for six months or more and causes clinically significant distress or affects your ability to function or engage in activities.
- Social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive anxiety surrounding social situations and events.
- Panic disorder, which is characterized by recurring panic attacks and the fear of future panic attacks.
- Specific phobia, which is characterized by a specific phobia that causes clinically significant distress or disrupts your ability to function or engage in activities.
- Agoraphobia, which is characterized by marked fear or anxiety surrounding situations or places that may be difficult to escape or that may cause embarrassment. These may include but aren’t limited to public transportation, public or open spaces, enclosed spaces like a classroom or movie theater, standing in line, being outside of the home alone, or crowds.
These are not the only existing or diagnosable anxiety disorders, but they are among some of the most common. It is not shameful to have an anxiety disorder or any other mental health condition of any kind.
Managing Anxiety As A Parent
Anxiety management for parents is much like it would be for anyone else, but with the unique concerns and obligations of a parent in mind. Here are some things you can do as a parent if you’re working toward managing your anxiety:
- Lighten your load.
First, don’t be afraid to ask for help from people in your life. Whether that’s assistance with household chores or a shoulder to lean on, reach out to your support system. Additionally, remember that it’s okay to say “no.” Lighten your load as much as you can, especially if you find yourself overwhelmed or overworking, as this can contribute to or worsen anxiety. You don’t have to be a superhero, and sometimes, you need to take time to care for yourself. Learn your own threshold, and know that there’s no reason to be ashamed of it.
- Know your coping skills.
It’s essential for anyone facing anxiety or life stressors to have a tool kit of coping skills. Different coping skills work for different people, so don’t be afraid to try new things until you find what works. When you are experiencing a moment of high anxiety or overwhelm, skills like breathing exercises can be incredibly advantageous. You can teach them to your kids as well. Meditation, physical activity, journaling, art, and other means of self-soothing or release are also common coping skills that help people living with anxiety.
- Use positive self-talk.
Anxiety has a tendency to blow things out of proportion and lead to negative thoughts or negative self-talk. Without judgment, start to notice when maladaptive thoughts show up. When you acknowledge that a negative thought is there, challenge or reframe it.
- Seek peer support.
Finding support options unique to those with anxiety, such as support groups, can be highly advantageous. You may even be able to find one specific to parents who are struggling. Anxiety can feel lonely, but you certainly aren’t alone.
- See a professional.
Anxiety is not easy to live with by any means, but the good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable conditions. Despite this, many people don’t reach out for help, whether that’s due to shame and stigma, a lack of resources, or something else. Therapy is known to help those with anxiety disorders reduce symptoms, and if you’re struggling, it’s important to seek the care of a professional who works with anxiety disorders.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re coping with concerns related to anxiety, parenting, or something else that’s on your mind, a therapist can help. There are a number of different ways to find a therapist. You can contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, ask your doctor for a referral, or sign up for a reputable online therapy website like BetterHelp with licensed providers. Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance, and it allows you to see a therapist or counselor from the privacy of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection, making it the perfect option for hard-working parents. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to find the support you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get started today.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.
With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.