As a new mom, knowing how to overcome Postpartum Anxiety is challenging. If you’ve never experienced or had to cope with anxiety before having a baby, it can be even more difficult. I spoke about my struggle with Postpartum Anxiety in my post on The Postpartum Period. Worrying about all of the awful things that could happen to my son kept me up at night and prevented me from living my life in the fullest, most fulfilling way.
Think you can relate? You are not alone. Many women suffer through this anxiety, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Having anxiety can greatly impact your quality of life. For me, anxiety kept me from enjoying the small moments and kept me from being present. I was always stuck in my head, worrying.
I will give you some tricks on how to overcome Postpartum Anxiety. But first, I want to discuss the importance of going to therapy for your mental health. Everyone has mental health. And just like your physical health, you have to work on it to keep it healthy.
Therapy is a wonderful way to maintain a healthy state of mind. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fear and misconceptions surrounding therapy. Let me bust some therapy myths before giving you my top tips on how to overcome Postpartum Anxiety.
Therapy Myths Busted
Therapy means you are weak.
Fact: Discussing your fears, emotions, and hidden thoughts in therapy takes strength. That takes courage and bravery!
Therapy is only for “crazy” or unstable people.
Fact: I’m in therapy. Most of my friends are in therapy. Therapy needs to be normalized. You don’t have to be suffering from severe mental health issues to seek therapy. In fact, I’ve gained more in my therapy sessions while not in a season of grief or major change. My mind is much more clear and my heart is more open while my life seems chill.
Therapy doesn’t help me, I’ve tried it.
Fact: Not all therapists are the right fit for you. I’ve had bad first sessions with therapists in the past. Sessions that were so bad they almost kept me from trying with a new therapist. But just like relationships, not everyone is your person. There are so many different styles of therapy. And different approaches or temperaments from therapists. Trust your gut when it doesn’t feel right. Keep searching until you find the right one!
I will just get over it, it’s fine.
Fact: Sure, you’ll probably eventually move forward with your life. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We all need a little help from time to time, in all areas of our lives. Seeing a therapist can help you “get over it”, just with new tools and new perspectives to build healthier coping skills.
Ok, enough about therapy. You get it, I’m a huge therapy advocate. But I’m not your therapist. These tricks to overcome postpartum anxiety can help you, but just know that a therapist will be able to really help you on a deeper, more personalized level.
Tricks for How to Overcome Postpartum Anxiety
Talking about it
Just like with therapy, getting all of those anxious thoughts out of your head will keep them from rattling around in there. Keeping it all inside will quickly occupy your brain space… precious brain space that could be used for many other things as a new mom.
I spoke in my post on Mindfulness in Everyday Life about a square breathing technique that I swear by to calm myself down. For this technique, breathe from the stomach and not the chest. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold again for 4 seconds. Square breathing helps to decrease your anxiety and calm your central nervous system.
Focus on what you can control
There are so many things in life that we cannot control. I’m sorry to say it. As a person with anxiety, I know that thought doesn’t help. But was does help is to focus on the things that I can control. There are plenty of products out there meant to reduce your anxiety.
Here are some of my favorite anxiety-reducing products:
- Indoor/Outdoor Camera Systems
These Blink cameras have night vision, alert you when there is movement, and keeps recordings for you to review. You can view the cameras from outside of your wifi, but don’t worry – you cannot access them without having the password to the account they are connected to and verification from the email address linked to the account. They can even connect to Amazon Alexa!
- Baby Monitor
If cameras are not realistic for you, you can always use the old-fashioned, tried and true, audio-only baby monitors.
- Owlet Sock
If you haven’t heard of Owlet yet, let me introduce you to a better night’s sleep. Owlet socks track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels to alert you if they are too high or too low. This means you can rest easy knowing that your baby is sound asleep.
- Car Mirror
Driving alone with your baby, especially for long distances, can be anxiety-producing. Car mirrors help you to easily glance at your baby to be sure their head is not slumped forward while sleeping. My baby is also a lot more chill in the car when he can see me in the mirror.
Keep an eye out for my next podcast episode on How Motherhood Empowers you, where I talk a lot about how beneficial mom friends can be. Mom friends, who are healthy and respectful, can really help boost your confidence. Hearing their experiences can provide comfort and prove, once again, that you are not alone in these struggles. It’s also much easier to push yourself outside of your comfort zone a little when you have a friend with a baby along for the ride.
Hearing me mention that you might need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone might have just made you panic a bit. Yes, I respect that you don’t feel comfortable in certain situations, and some of those feelings may never change. I hope you never feel comfortable leaving your baby in the car while you go grocery shopping. There is a reason you are not ok with certain situations – to protect your baby.
When I say that you should push yourself outside of your comfort zone, I mean for healthy things. You know, the things you probably already know deep down you will have to learn to do – like grocery shopping alone with your baby.
I’ve found that reflecting back on how much I have overcome as a mother really helps to build my confidence in myself and my judgment. Reflecting on how much my baby has overcome as well reminds me just how resilient my son is.
Journaling is a wonderful way to release those anxious thoughts, stop negative thought patterns, and find a solution! Check out my article with 30+ Journal Prompts for Anxiety to start.
Feeling nervous about starting solids? Or to take your baby swimming? Knowledge is power. Knowledge is comfort. Educate yourself on what to do when your baby chokes or how to stay safe at the pool.
For starters, here are some links to resources for common anxieties:
Take baby steps
Pun intended. Taking small steps to overcome anxieties like going to the grocery store alone with your baby help to get you to the overall goal – confidence. Trying to take on a task in full can feel overwhelming. If possible, break it up into steps.
For instance, you might first walk or drive to the store, but not go in. This will help you feel more confident in driving the route, knowing where you are going and what to expect. Then, the next time you might go in for one or two items only. This could help you feel confident in the layout of the store and handling your baby in it alone. And slowly work your way up to a full grocery run.
I find comfort in a routine. Again, this is something I can control in my life. As I mentioned with the drive to the grocery store, knowing what to expect and feeling prepared helps me feel secure.
Please know that life will always throw curveballs your way. Don’t get so caught up in a routine that you can’t handle when things pop up throughout your day. Having a general routine can help with confidence in your typical day-to-day tasks. Your baby can also benefit from a routine! See my article on my son’s sleep routine for an example.
I have so many of these, it requires its own separate post. These Positive Affirmations for Postpartum Anxiety have been the most helpful for me!
Write out all of your anxieties and fears. I’m afraid you may have misunderstood that statement. When I say write out all of your anxieties and fears, I mean every. single. one. This may take 5 minutes or it may take 20. There is no right or wrong way to do it. And don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or mistakes. Because it’s not meant to be shared or even read after you write it. This is to purge your brain of everything. Get it all out of your head so you can move forward without it.
Exhaust your brain
This might look different for a lot of people. For me, it’s writing. Maybe it’s reading or crafting for you. Anything that requires enough brainpower for your brain to need a break will do!
Maybe it’s just me, but my anxiety makes it nearly impossible to quiet my brain long enough to meditate on my own. I can last 2.64 seconds before a worry pops into my head and pulls my focus into a rabbit hole! Guided meditations have really helped me keep my focus on the present moment. If you search podcasts for guided meditation, you’ll be able to find one that best fits what you need at the moment.
There is no shame in taking medications for anxiety. Medications exist for a reason and if you find that it’s the best solution for you, then I’m in full support.
Now You Have Tips for How to Overcome Postpartum Anxiety
But, knowing how to overcome postpartum anxiety is half of the battle. You have to put these tips into action. Anxiety doesn’t just go away after doing one of these things, it’s a continual practice until you gradually gain comfort and confidence.
Talk with your physician or therapist for more personalized solutions, they have more insight into your physical and mental health!
Also, check out my upcoming article on How to Overcome Postpartum Depression!
Check out these articles:
- 30+ Journal Prompts for Anxiety
- Positive Affirmations for Postpartum Anxiety
- Mindfulness in Everyday Life