Having and raising children can be an anxiety-provoking experience, particularly for new parents. In most cases, the worries and anxious thoughts of parenthood are fleeting and completely normal. However, when a parent begins to feel overwhelmed, different coping strategies are needed. How will you know if you are experiencing anxiety? Anxiety affects the whole person and involves physiological (e.g., rapid heartbeat), behavioural (e.g., avoidance) and psychological (e.g., sense of apprehension) symptoms. Because anxiety manifests in so many ways, a variety of techniques exist for managing these symptoms, including:
· Progressive muscle relaxation
· Abdominal breathing exercises
· Meditation / mindfulness practice
· Changes in self-talk
· Changes in diet (e.g., eliminate caffeine)
If you find that your anxiety is so significant that it is impairing your ability to function, it may be that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. In such cases, you should connect with your GP and explore whether you might benefit from counselling or medication. Regardless how severe your anxiety, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that, sometimes, sharing your worries with a significant other or counsellor can be a key first step in managing them.
Wendy Woloshyn is a Registered Clinical Counsellor in private practice in Vancouver. The primary focus of her practice is anxiety, grief and loss, and life transitions, including those faced by new or expecting mothers.