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Anxiety & Me: How Self-Care Saved My Sanity

1
“I can’t do this.”  This thought ran through my head over and over again for years, but particularly the months after the birth of my three amazing babies.  Interspersed with feelings of unparalleled love and deep devotion, came waves of frustration, of being overwhelmed, unable to cope.  I had more “Arthur Fowler” moments than I care to mention, and I’d developed an almost obsessive need to tend for my growing family.  But I had forgotten one person that also needed looking after. Me.

Not only had I lost sight of who I was, I also

SelfishMother.com
2
tortured myself with never-ending to-do lists and impossible expectations. No wonder I felt like a failure, I had raised the bar so high it had become unreachable.

I am thankful to say that through the fog I had a moment of clarity and reached out for help, and this has been in the form of regular CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions.  This has been a game changer for me. Finally I could truly understand that in order for me to look after my family, first I had to take care of myself.  Whoever said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,”

SelfishMother.com
3
was in fact bang on.

Now I have to state here I have no training to treat anyone suffering from mental health issues.  Please, please contact your GP or an appropriate advice line such as the Samaritans if you need help.  But for those who are perhaps feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, I wanted to share these tips that have really helped me, and I hope they help you too.

Sod the housework – this sounds ridiculous, but at the beginning of my treatment I could not stop banging on about the state of the house. Often I would spend every spare

SelfishMother.com
4
minute in my day, of which there weren’t many, tidying and cleaning, only to find the house in a worse state post teatime than it had been in the morning. Soul destroying.  Now, if my baby gives me a half decent nap time I watch Grey’s Anatomy and inhale a sarnie on the sofa. Instead I do the tidying at the end of the day – if I can be bothered.  Yes my house isn’t a show home but I’m a darn sight happier for it.

Give permission to enjoy yourself – Ah mum guilt, we’ve all felt it. But loving your kids does not mean having to spend

SelfishMother.com
5
every minute with them.  You’re entitled to a girls’ brunch, a date night or simply an extra half hour in the bath to read your book.  In fact, it’s vital.  Book yourself that trip to the cinema or cheeky massage and give yourself permission to enjoy it.  You really do deserve it.

You’re not surviving, you’re thriving – I’ve often walked into a therapy session and declared I’m in survival mode, particularly after a crap night with the baby.  First off, survival mode is just fine.  Of course you want to sit on the sofa and eat

SelfishMother.com
6
biscuits, with the kids glued to the TV, when you’ve had bugger all sleep.  But chances are, you’re not just surviving, you’re thriving.  Are you kids loved and safe?  Are they happy, warm and well fed?  Examine the evidence and you’ll find you’re doing a stellar job.

Postpone your worries – When my anxiety is particularly bad, I can lose days worrying.  Obsessing about hypothetical ‘what if’ scenarios that most likely will never happen.  I have learnt (although it is never easy) to postpone my worry by writing it in a notebook,

SelfishMother.com
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distracting myself with something different, then dedicating a quiet time, when the kids are in bed, to concentrate on my worry later.  If it’s a genuine problem, I will try and tackle it in a practical fashion.  If it’s a ‘what if’, the distraction has often worked and I have moved on.  Although nothing is a fail-safe method, this has saved me from reaching fever pitch a few times.

Don’t search Google – Name a mum who hasn’t googled their baby’s symptoms late at night, bleary eyed, desperate to find a solution or answer. Only to

SelfishMother.com
8
be scarred witless by what they find.  For someone who is also prone to a bit of health anxiety, Dr Google is the devil’s work. Be kind to yourself and trust your own judgment and intuition.  A mother’s gut is rarely wrong.
*****
Gemma is the founder of Calm Mamas Club – an events company for tired and time short mums in need of self-care.  For news and updates on planned events, please follow @CalmMamasClub on Instagram and Facebook.   Tickets can be bought via www.calmmamasclub.co.uk
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- 3 Jan 19

“I can’t do this.”  This thought ran through my head over and over again for years, but particularly the months after the birth of my three amazing babies.  Interspersed with feelings of unparalleled love and deep devotion, came waves of frustration, of being overwhelmed, unable to cope.  I had more “Arthur Fowler” moments than I care to mention, and I’d developed an almost obsessive need to tend for my growing family.  But I had forgotten one person that also needed looking after. Me.

Not only had I lost sight of who I was, I also tortured myself with never-ending to-do lists and impossible expectations. No wonder I felt like a failure, I had raised the bar so high it had become unreachable.

I am thankful to say that through the fog I had a moment of clarity and reached out for help, and this has been in the form of regular CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions.  This has been a game changer for me. Finally I could truly understand that in order for me to look after my family, first I had to take care of myself.  Whoever said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” was in fact bang on.

Now I have to state here I have no training to treat anyone suffering from mental health issues.  Please, please contact your GP or an appropriate advice line such as the Samaritans if you need help.  But for those who are perhaps feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, I wanted to share these tips that have really helped me, and I hope they help you too.

Sod the housework – this sounds ridiculous, but at the beginning of my treatment I could not stop banging on about the state of the house. Often I would spend every spare minute in my day, of which there weren’t many, tidying and cleaning, only to find the house in a worse state post teatime than it had been in the morning. Soul destroying.  Now, if my baby gives me a half decent nap time I watch Grey’s Anatomy and inhale a sarnie on the sofa. Instead I do the tidying at the end of the day – if I can be bothered.  Yes my house isn’t a show home but I’m a darn sight happier for it.

Give permission to enjoy yourself – Ah mum guilt, we’ve all felt it. But loving your kids does not mean having to spend every minute with them.  You’re entitled to a girls’ brunch, a date night or simply an extra half hour in the bath to read your book.  In fact, it’s vital.  Book yourself that trip to the cinema or cheeky massage and give yourself permission to enjoy it.  You really do deserve it.

You’re not surviving, you’re thriving – I’ve often walked into a therapy session and declared I’m in survival mode, particularly after a crap night with the baby.  First off, survival mode is just fine.  Of course you want to sit on the sofa and eat biscuits, with the kids glued to the TV, when you’ve had bugger all sleep.  But chances are, you’re not just surviving, you’re thriving.  Are you kids loved and safe?  Are they happy, warm and well fed?  Examine the evidence and you’ll find you’re doing a stellar job.

Postpone your worries – When my anxiety is particularly bad, I can lose days worrying.  Obsessing about hypothetical ‘what if’ scenarios that most likely will never happen.  I have learnt (although it is never easy) to postpone my worry by writing it in a notebook, distracting myself with something different, then dedicating a quiet time, when the kids are in bed, to concentrate on my worry later.  If it’s a genuine problem, I will try and tackle it in a practical fashion.  If it’s a ‘what if’, the distraction has often worked and I have moved on.  Although nothing is a fail-safe method, this has saved me from reaching fever pitch a few times.

Don’t search Google – Name a mum who hasn’t googled their baby’s symptoms late at night, bleary eyed, desperate to find a solution or answer. Only to be scarred witless by what they find.  For someone who is also prone to a bit of health anxiety, Dr Google is the devil’s work. Be kind to yourself and trust your own judgment and intuition.  A mother’s gut is rarely wrong.

*****

Gemma is the founder of Calm Mamas Club – an events company for tired and time short mums in need of self-care.  For news and updates on planned events, please follow @CalmMamasClub on Instagram and Facebook.   Tickets can be bought via www.calmmamasclub.co.uk

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Mama of 3, Part-time PR, Wife of an Ice Cream Pedlar Founder of Calm Mamas Club - Events Where Mum Comes First

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