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Name, tame and reframe parent anxiety

I have found in my life and in the lives of my clients, anxiety shows up in different ways. Sometimes, it sneaks up on us and we suddenly realise we feel anxious, other times it stalks us like our shadow never far away ready to shroud our days in cloud, or perhaps it is a silent witness, ever present, so familiar we have become immune and numbed out to its presence or the best of the lot – we become aware briefly, of being free of anxiety and then become anxious about not feeling anxious!!

At times like this, it is easy to become consumed and exhausted by this vicious cycle, ready to throw in the towel convinced there is no other way to live your life.

I have experienced anxiety in all these forms and still do from time-to-time, despite my children now both being adults (my husband and I got them both there safely and successfully so there is no reason why you shouldn’t too!)

What has changed now is that more often than not anxiety no longer controls me nor robs me of my quality of life which is what I experienced in the past; rather I have learned how to relate to it differently and you can too! If you are a parent, experiencing anxiety, stay with me as we explore the nature of anxiety and how you too can tame and reframe your anxiety!

Whose anxiety is it?

This is a situation I can relate to and I wonder if you can too?

How often have you felt stressed, overwhelmed and anxious only to find everything you had to deal with as a parent becomes that much more difficult. Helping with homework, bathing, bedtime, even listening, which you would normally be able to take in your stride, suddenly felt too much. To top it all, your child is acting-up and pushing your buttons …. could there be a link?

Often with a bit of gentle probing we discover there is a link and that anxiety enjoys company – when we feel anxious, so too can our children and this can show up in a number of different ways.

Why is it that over the weekends or during holidays, we seem to have more patience and not sweat the small stuff so much, we feel more relaxed and our anxiety levels subside? Could it have something to do with how you are feeling? Children tend to pick up and feed off our emotions more than we are aware.

The external demands on our energy, focus and time all have the potential to deplete us emotionally making us less patient, tolerant, loving and present with those in our care and whom we love the most.

What to do?

When we know what we are dealing with, we gain clarity and perspective.

We can take a step back, remind ourselves that anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes – that it can’t harm us, despite our minds trying to convince us otherwise.

What follows is an acronym for TAME for you to use the next time you feel those anxious feelings.

T – Take time

Take time and become curious and think; investigate the source of your anxious feelings.

Identify and name the area of life they fall into e.g.:

  • work
  • family – partner, parenting, chores, schooling
  • finances
  • friends
  • health
  • politics
  • safety
  • environmental
  • non-specific (this one can be a little harder to deal with)

A – Accept the feeling

Accept the feeling – remind yourself that anxiety can’t hurt you and like all other feelings, it comes and it will pass. Only by accepting the feeling, can we start understanding and working with whatever comes up for us. Take a deep breath!

M – Make a plan

Call in your resources! Brainstorm ways you can deal with the situations causing your anxiety. Within these situations, what can you control and what is out of your control? Focus your energy in finding your solutions in the realm of that which is in your control.

E – Execute your plan

What small step can you take today, and the day thereafter consistently that will help you reduce your feelings of anxiety? The more you are able to do this, the easier it will be to respond to your responsibilities, whether at home or work, feeling calmer and more resourceful. It becomes a win-win for everyone.

When you are able to meet your child’s anxiety from a place of calm, you are able to contain, connect, regulate and redirect their strong emotion.

Reframe

The presence of nagging anxiety is a flag.

  • What is this flag raising for you?
  • What may need to change in your life?
  • What lesson can the presence of anxiety be here to teach you?

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