As a mum there are many talents we need. Some we have learned throughout life already; some we must master quickly when the baby arrives. But as a worrier there are many more skills that would make life easier for us, if we could only learn them. Here I have compiled fourteen of the most useful.
1. How to Get Enough Sleep. Anxiety and worry can cause insomnia, as anyone whose racing thoughts have kept them up at night can attest. But lack of sleep can also contribute to anxiety. When you are sleep deprived, your ability to handle stress is compromised. When you are well rested, it is much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with anxiety and stopping worry. Improve your sleep at night by changing any daytime habits or bedtime routines that can contribute to sleeplessness.
2. Caffeine Limits. Stop drinking or at least cut back on caffeinated beverages, including soda, coffee, and tea. Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger all kinds of jittery physiological effects that look and feel a lot like anxiety - from pounding heart and trembling hands to agitation and restlessness. Caffeine can also make overthinking worse, cause insomnia, and even trigger panic attacks.
3. The Truth About Alcohol and Nicotine. Having a few drinks may temporarily help you feel less anxious, but alcohol makes anxiety symptoms worse as it wears off. While it may seem like cigarettes are calming, nicotine is a powerful stimulant that leads to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.
4. What is a Balanced Life? Psychologists think that well-being comes from living a life with a balance of activities that give you feelings of pleasure, achievement, and closeness. As Mums we often do a lot of stuff to feel accomplished and to achieve goals but remember that we are social beings – we need connections to thrive and flourish. And we deserve to enjoy life just as much as anyone else does. So doing fun activities is just as important.
5. The Importance of Regular Exercise. Regular exercise can help physical and mental health. It can aid better sleep and improve self-esteem. But most importantly for overthinkers, it can help us to relax and thus reduce worry.
6. Curiosity. Accepting that your way is not the only way and being willing to learn how other people think, do, and feel, can help you to know whether you want to change, and if so, how. You don’t have to remain in the mould that was built for you – you can remould yourself – that’s the great thing about Evolving! You are still you – but just the version you want to be.
7. Compassion. Try to be kind to yourself. Remember when learning any new skill, it takes practice to get it right. You would not expect a child to be able to do something perfectly straightaway, so try to speak to yourself with kindness.
8. Mindfulness. Learning and practicing mindfulness can help us to let go of worries and bring ourselves back to the present moment. For example, focusing on the gentle movement of your breath or the sounds you hear around you, can serve as helpful 'anchors' to come back to the present moment and let go of worries. Here is a guide on how to start a regular meditation practice.
9. Practice Gratitude. At times of uncertainty, developing a gratitude practice can help you to connect with moments of joy, aliveness, and pleasure. At the end of each day, take time to reflect on what you are thankful for today. Try and be specific and notice new things each day, for example ‘I am grateful that it was sunny at lunchtime so I could sit in the garden’. You could start a gratitude journal or keep notes in a gratitude jar.
10. What Eisenhower Principle is. To help with prioritizing and delegating this technique was used by President Eisenhower. List your tasks. Decide if they are either:
Important and Urgent – Do these first
Important but not Urgent* – Do these next
Urgent but not Important – Delegate these
Not Important or Urgent* – Leave these
*Plan some time to train someone to do these tasks too so you are able to delegate these if needed too.
11. Friend Dieting. You know how some foods you eat are just empty calories, they have no nutritional value. They have lots of sugar, fats, or carbs that make you feel more tired and bad about yourself. Do you have some relationships like that? When you spend time with that person, it’s good while you’re there, but afterwards you feel drained and maybe a bit low or negative? Unfortunately, some people are like that. It can be good to think about a friend diet if this is the case. Just like you may decide to go vegetarian and give up meat, some people you may not want to see at all. Others may become your chocolate friends that you only engage with once a week.
12. How to Create a Safe Haven. Create a place, real or imagined, where you can escape to every so often to feel safe and comforted. Your home, or a room in your home, is great but if this isn’t possible an image of somewhere that elicits a sense of protection and peace, where you can be alone.
13. Setting Boundaries. Physical and metaphoric boundaries are important to our emotional health and our ability to get everything done. We often overestimate what we can achieve, so it’s vitally important that if we have set a time and place for a task then it needs to be adhered to otherwise nothing else will be completed to schedule. Thus, we must get strict with ourselves when setting the plan and boundaries – get realistic about your expectations.
14, Assertiveness Skills. Learn what you need, then learn how to ask for what you need – then practice asking for what you need. If you think it’s not worth it (about anything or situation), what you are really saying is that you are not worth it, and I know that is not true!
By learning these skills life can become less worrisome, calmer, and more joyful. Motherhood can be more rewarding without the constant nagging of a what if thought or a sense of not enough time and too much to do.
If you want to learn more skills like these then come join Good Enough Mum a group of mums supporting each other to ditch the guilt, frustration, and worry of motherhood and evolve to believe that they are Good Enough.