Anxiety is such a bitch. 
There’s really no other way to describe it, right? It affects those of us who suffer differently, will dominate your thoughts and can even over power the medication designed to tackle it.

And, if you add on being a mother of small children who is tending to the needs of her family before herself, you could find yourself completely wrapped up in that paralyzing, drowning feeling anxiety sufferers know all too well.

I’ve talked openly about my anxiety here before and recently I share on my Instagram stories that I was having a rough patch on the anxiety front.

Even though I’m happily medicated, my anxiety can still creep in, whether its hormonal changes, changes to our family routine, social stress or the overwhelming feeling of being the go-to parent while my husband travels for work, I’ll never know but when the anxiety wave hits, I have to work very hard to rise above it.

I put together a little list of things that helped me get that noise inside my head in check during this most recent struggle and, while many of my strategies aren’t revolutionary, the way I implement them may help those of you mamas who are struggling with anxiety with littles underfoot.
(I am not a doctor or medical professional and this is just my personal experience)

5 Little Ways To Fight Anxiety As A Mom

(these tips can obviously work for anyone, I just struggle most when I’m in the throws of dealing with the demands and pressures of all things motherhood)
1. Acknowledge Your Wins

When my anxiety is really bad, all I hear in my head is how I’ve failed to accomplish anything throughout the day – that the next day will be just as stressful because I didn’t get it together and my family will suffer because of it. Sound familiar? So here’s what I do to combat that:
I say, out loud, all of the things that I’ve accomplished during the day – even things that are “mandatory” or extremely small, which, as a WFHM, might be every task I take on. I start with waking up and work up to the present moment. 
My list might sound like this:

I made breakfast, packed both lunches, checked the backpacks for teacher notes, got both kids dressed, told Gray a joke (he’s very into jokes right now), loaded everyone up, did positive affirmations in the car, told the kids how much I loved them, answered emails after drop off, started a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, flipped the load of laundry, submitted a draft…” and on and on.

Listing out all of the daily tasks that don’t even hit the radar as “wins” forces me to acknowledge all that I’ve accomplished, even if anxiety is telling me otherwise. Sometimes I even text the highlight reel to my husband and he’s been around long enough to know that I need him to tell me that I’m kicking butt.

Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the list of accomplishments as I name them one by one and it keeps that “today was a failure” train of thought at bay.

2. Move

Of course, exercise is important for anyone’s mental and physical well being, but I can promise that an anxiety surge will not be the time that I will join a new gym (or even go back to an old one). I’m already feeling very critical of myself so, while I want and need to move my body, it’s important that

I do so in a positive and almost silly way, and, seeing that I’m very much an introvert, that I do it from home. My fave way to do that is to stream Fitness Marshall dance videos on YouTube. I take 20 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour – whatever time I have – and dance around our family room to his workouts.

Do I hit all of the moves? Absolutely not. Is it fun and a way to clear my head? Yes ma’am.

Because I can do it at home (I actually stream the videos on our family room TV), I choose to do my workouts during what is traditionally my “worst” time of day. That window between 3pm and 4:30pm always gets me so I turn on the videos, crank up the volume and do them with the kids underfoot.

They surprise me and will do them with me sometimes, often they’ll sit and watch the videos while I jump around and sometimes they could care less and head outside to play.

But what they don’t do is beg me for another snack or climb all over me because they can see that I’m not available. They know they can join in or go play but clearly mama is busy. 

I’ve noticed that after my daily dance session the vibe in our house changes. It’s lighter, more fun and the kids respond to it. It’s important to me that they see me take care of myself even when it’s hard and that they see me be silly, something they probably can’t and won’t see when the anxiety is bad.
As another bonus, I stay away from my phone for the entire time that I’m busting a move, which is amazing for my anxiety (no social scrolling for the win) and when I wake up the next morning with just a tiny bit of muscle soreness, I’m reminded of what I accomplished the day before for my health and feel positive that I’m working towards a tighter bum to boot.

Plus, it’s free! 

3. H2O

Another seemingly obvious way to take care of oneself is to drink water, and with anxiety especially, drinking water instead of anything caffeinated or sugary is a great way to bring drown the stress levels. While that’s perfectly reasonable and wonderful, when my anxiety is bad, I’m not exactly crushing things in the reasonable and wonderful department.

So, I work water into my day in the easiest, laziest way possible: I order it with my coffee. Yep, I order a giant water from the Starbucks drive through while I’m snagging my morning cup. It’s easy, free and works. 

After I drink my coffee, I switch to water instead of soda and make it a mission to re-fill my cup 5 times during the day.

 Overall, my goal is to drop the number of sodas/teas/rando beverages I drink and filling up on water is a secondary bonus. Avoiding caffeine really does keep my anxiety in check and I tend to realize after I’ve cut back just how much caffeine I had been allowing myself to consume. 

If you have a ritual that you do every single day, like make a cup of coffee or even brush your teeth in the morning, set out your water cup in that space so that you’re reminded to fill it when you start your day.

Make it as easy on yourself as possible and once you get that first cup going, you’ll be more inspired to keep it full all day long. 

4. Timer

My anxiety leaves me feeling overwhelmed with all that I have going on and somehow also paralyzed at the most and uninspired at the least to accomplish any of it. My friend Meredith told me about the Be Focused app and while I started using it to manage my work time, I also implemented it to dig myself out of that overwhelmed feeling.

The app is free and allows you to set up specific tasks set to a twenty minute timer. After you’ve accomplished a task or two, Be Focused gives you a timed break before you dive into the next task. 

Here’s why that works for me: sometimes I feel overwhelmed by things that ultimately won’t take me very much time to tackle. Maybe it’s filling out the school fundraiser form that’s been sitting on my counter for weeks or folding that pile of laundry.

Each day, I set up a few of those tasks that have been hanging over my head and give myself the length of the timer to tackle them. If I don’t finish it, so be it, I got the ball rolling. I’m always surprised to find that almost every single task is accomplished before the 20 minutes is up and I blow through my list way more quickly than I imagined.

Checking those long avoided items off of my list allows me to tell my brain to chill out and take a seat, because I am clearly in control of this crazy life we lead. 

You can read more about my anxiety journey here and here
photos by Demi Mabry Photography