Let’s be honest: parenting is not for the faint of heart.
Specifically as women and mothers, we are intimately aware of the weight we carry within our various nurturing roles. Every mother knows the feeling of fear that develops after the birth of a child, and for many, those overwhelming feelings of anxiety, worry, stress, guilt follow them beginning during pregnancy and during the preparation for the birth — and only intensify with age. Women have worried about their babies since the beginning of time — it’s not a new phenomenon, and it’s definitely not going away anytime soon. (Great news, right? Sigh.)
The thing is, as a new mother, you need to breathe. I know, easier said than done, right? New mothers don’t only have to deal with fluctuating hormones (helloooo, moodswings!), but also the new role they have to navigate. A new mother has to learn all about her baby, including what they need and how they communicate those needs.
What’s more, the internet age has fundamentally changed the way that we parent. In addition to worrying about our littles ones, we face judgement and comparison of every aspect of our parenting, put under the microscope of perfect social media squares and Facebook feeds. Does your child look as cute as your neighbor’s? Did your body bounce back as fast as that mommy blogger you follow? It’s brutal out there for new mothers. (Tip: unfollow accounts that make you feel insecure and inadequate. Follow positive parenting feeds!)
Mothers have no choice when it comes to worrying — it’s a natural part of who we are and what we do. A little bit of worry helps us to care for and protect our children. But if those worries are extreme — like those extended to stillbirth and SIDS, upright cemetery headstones and funeral plans — it’s important to speak to a doctor and get advice and help about treatment for postpartum depression. Remember, mamas: you can’t be the best mother you can be without caring for yourself. Prioritize your well-being. And when worries overwhelm you, don’t forget to breathe.
Here are eight solid reasons you need to majorly RELAX. (And keep your anxiety under control.)
- Worrying? It Wastes Energy
All that time you spend freaking out about your baby and your role as a mother? That’s time you could be embracing that new little life and feeling the joy of motherhood. (And there are many!) When you constantly stress over endless possibilities or worst-case-scenarios, you sacrifice the beneficial positive thoughts you could be having instead. Strive to remember that while all of those middle-of-the-night feedings and long days are exhausting, you can still find the joy in every one of those moments anyway. Our children grow and those moments don’t last, so soak up the good moments and save your all-too-precious energy for the important things.
*Tip: try keeping a journal to make note of and remember the wonderful (or even funny) moments that happen everyday. You’ll cherish those memories.
- Children Pick Up On Stress
DYK? Your new baby is going to pick up on your anxiety and react to it. Yikes. A stressed-out mama often results in a stressed out baby, and that’s detrimental to both of you. You want your baby to be calm and relaxed, and they will mirror you if you are calm and relaxed. If you can’t chase the anxiety away for you, do it for your little one. You both deserve the healthiest you.
- You Can’t Be Honest With Yourself
When you stop paying attention to your well-being, and cease working to curb your anxiety, it’s very difficult to be real with yourself — especially when you’re struggling. The overwhelm of anxiety, fear, and stress causes you to withdrawal and ignore symptoms potentially dangerous to your health. You don’t readily share your struggles and difficulties with others, which can easily make you feel like you’re underwater with no rescue. You’ve got to breathe and remember that this new world of yours needs to be shared. Parenting takes a village, and finding yours is crucial.
*Tip: join a virtual or IRL mom’s group where you can connect with other moms and share struggles. You need a tribe. Everyone is facing their own challenges, and you need a team of cheerleaders and supporters.
- Worrying Makes You Unaware Of The World
When you spend your days panicking and worrying about your baby and everything that could go wrong, you lose connection to the world around you. Your worry consumes everything, and (in addition to being self-absorbing), you aren’t aware of what’s going on around you. It’s not intentional, but it’s energy you could be using on feeling good, soaking up precious moments with your little one, and living an abundant life.
- You Could Make Your Baby Anxious
Did you know that anxious parents often have anxious children? It’s a generational thing, and if you want to make sure that you have a secure and happy child, you need to work on being calm, secure and happy yourself. This should be reason enough to take a breath and embrace your mothering role with calmness and serenity. (Don’t worry if it’s not easy at first. It comes with time and practice.) Your constant worrying can be damaging, and when it all comes down to it, it’s worrying you just don’t need. (Truly, the intense anxiety is not serving any positive purpose. So let it go!)
- You’ll Limit Your Children’s Growth
If you don’t learn to relax now, you’ll never allow your children the freedom to explore, learn, and grow on their own. As your children grow, they need the space to try new things, make mistakes, and do things without you. (And hey! You want that. You need that. Time alone = essential for moms.) Letting go of those reins that you’re white-knuckling is liberating — for both you and your child. If you don’t, you’re harming their needed development.
- You Deserve Peace
Mama, it’s time to give yourself permission to relax. You need peace. You deserve it. Think of your life before kids: you gave yourself time to be you, to develop talents, to find your identity, explore, learn, make memories, and find joy. Having children doesn’t change that essential need for each mother. You deserve to feel peaceful and happy, and the only way that you can do that is if you let go of some of the worrying and live your life. Allow yourself to find peace through self-care and personal development. Prioritize your well-being and give yourself time to nurture your own needs. Children need parents who at peace with themselves, not stressed-out worry-warts who are constantly anxious. You need to consciously create moment to breathe and find peace.
*Whatever it is that brings you joy and peace, create the space in your life to do. And protect it. Take classes, read books, exercise, enjoy a good meal (sitting down!), or even stretch yourself through a daily yoga class online to help you feel renewed.
- Your Physical Health Will Suffer
Worrying has tangible, physical effect on the body, and over time, high levels of anxiety can take a toll. Worry is often exacerbated by lack of sleep, and as a new mother, you can bet on a lack of sleep. If you’re constantly worrying about what you’re doing wrong, you’re going to forget to look after yourself. You need to eat well and exercise, socialize with people, and get out away. Too much stress pushes you towards unhealthy habits, and you need to be as healthy as possible to be the best mother you can!
Motherhood is stressful. (Understatement of the century, right?!) Create the best environment for you and your little one by taking time to RELAX. You deserve it — and so does your baby.