Tuesday 30 September 2014

Never good enough? What it's like to be a worrier and tips for coping:

I never feel good enough. I know I'm not the only one. Why? Why is it we feel like this? Does anyone know the answer? Is there anyone out there who is truly happy with themselves and what they achieve? Is this a state only reached after years of counseling?

I know that a certain amount of not being satisfied is good. After all, without that we'd never strive to improve and achieve. 

I seem to live in a permanent state of never feeling good enough.  I go from one worry to the next, always giving myself something new to fret over, always giving myself doubts in my ability. Sometimes I just want to bash my head in. From the moment I wake in the morning to the moment I fall asleep (and in between due to the tag team interruptions from the boys in the night) it's nagging at me:

"What are you going to feed the boys today? Is it healthy? You're planning beans on toast for tea?! My God you're a shit Mum! You should have fitted in time to make a homemade casserole!"

"Is Ethan too short?"

"How will Ethan cope with his school dinner?"

"How are you going to fit Felix's nap in today?"

There really seems to be no limit to my worry.  I've erred on the anxious my whole life.  Even as a child I remember worrying, about school work, about friends, about the safety of myself and my family.  I remember age six sleeping with a packed suitcase under my bed each night which included spare clothes, favorite toys and some books.  I kept it there in case there was a fire; I would be able to grab it before getting out.  I had also planned the safest escape route for the entire family.  For some reason I felt that it was my responsibility to get everyone out!  Fast forward to shortly after Ethan's birth over 5 years ago, one of the stupid worries I had running around my head was how on earth I would deal with packed lunches for him at school.. when I had a newborn to look after, this was just one of the extra silly things I gave myself to worry about on top of everything else!

Becoming a parent does mean extra worry.  Being a stay at home parent, even more so, I suspect.  Without a work place in which you become someone other than Mum or Dad for a few hours, your whole life revolves around your child/ren and house.  Your house almost feels like your office.  After all, it's your base.  It can be very very hard to gain perspective.

I've spoken to a lot of my stay at home Mum friends and I know many of them feel the same.  Though I feel we all worry to different degrees.

It's all going to be ok! Coping with worry.

How can we cope with all of this?  Well, for me, it's a case of constant evaluation.  Because I've suffered with anxiety for most of my life, I have to look out for signs that it's going beyond normal and more into the realm of requiring medication.  However, there are some things that I do to help myself to hopefully avoid this and these are things that help all of us in these situations:

1) See friends and talk:

I really think this is just about the most important step you can take to help yourself step off the worry train.  Just a few minutes (preferably longer if children will allow!) talking with other parents will ease your burden.  Soon you will realize that they too are worrying about just how much their child has eaten.  They will confide in you that no, Jack doesn't actually sleep through the night, he climbs into their bed. You can trade horror stories, worries, concerns. It's corny, but it's true, a problem shared is a problem halved.  Just by vocalising your worries it takes some of power away from them.

2) Exercise:

Walk.  Push the pram.  Put your child in a creche if you can and do a class.  You don't need me to tell you that exercise is good for you.  It releases those lovely endorfins we all benefit from.  I can tell you first hand this works.  I start Monday morning stressed to the hilt.  The whole week is ahead, I'm missing the weekend, missing having my husband with me, worrying about how I'm going to fit everything in.  At 9:30 am I put Felix in the creche at my local leisure centre and I do a class.  Whilst I'm in that class I physically cannot worry about anything.  I'm too busy sweating and trying to keep up.  After the class I find half of the things I've been worrying about have left my head, or their significance is greatly reduced.  Plus, I feel good about myself.  I feel fit and healthy.   I also feel good because Felix has had some time playing and socialising with other children, something I feel benefits him.

3) Set aside some "me" time:

I know.. I know. You feel you haven't got time.  If you can though, even just two hours a week, just setting aside a slot in your week where you do something for you can made heaps of difference.  This could be the exercise class! Hell, kill two bird with one stone why not,  you multitasking mutha!  Perhaps you've always wanted to learn to knit?  Find a local class.  Sign up.  Go out for a drink with a friend.

Coffee & cake therapy
Take a break!

4) Set aside "time off":

This is something I am learning to do.  I'm someone who's guilty of always trying to do too much (see the above about never feeling good enough!).  If we give ourselves too much to do, the chances are we end up doing most things badly, or at least, not to our standards.  It is SO important to switch off, do do NOTHING.  Sit in a chair in the dark.  Listen to the radio.  Sit in the garden and listen to the birds.  Put the phone and laptop away.  This leads me on to no 5:

5) Make a schedule:

This is something for the list makers out there.  Chances are, if you're a worrier, you probably also enjoy a good list!  To help myself focus on what needs to be done during the week, to fit in my exercise, blogging time and "doing nothing" time I made a schedule.  I was suffering with the feeling that I ought to be blogging/emailing/sorting things out any time I had a second where I wasn't with a child.  It was starting to make me feel very stressed and, to be honest, quite unhinged.  I decided to schedule my week, even though I was skeptical, and it's worked!  I now know which evenings I'm going to blog.  I have my exercise classes planned in.  I've organised a monthly meet up with friends so I have something to look forward to and guaranteed time to talk.  I also have very important evenings where there is nothing booked in.  All I do on those evenings now is take it easy.  I chat with the husband.  I watch TV.  I read my book.  I don't get my laptop out.  It's hard, but it's worth it.

Those are my top 5 tips for feeling better about yourself and reducing the worry in your life.  My worried never completely go away, as does my anxiety.  But I know that doing all of the above, I feel better.  Not all of the time, but some of the time.  And that is better!

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