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Feeling anxious ? Try staying in the present

Moms are feeling anxious. I have spoken to many moms in the past week and they are worried about their kids returning to school, the mask wearing or not wearing masks, the social distancing ( or not), if their child will get sick or has fallen behind academically. Other stressors are juggling their job and household responsibility. Most of us thought life would return to some sort of normality with the vaccine but with the rise of the delta variant there is a lot of uncertainty. Of course, many of us are carrying other worries, paying bills, relationships with our spouses and families and fretting about climate change. That's a lot!!

We often worry if our anxiety will affect our children. We know that our children are like sponges and pick up most of our emotions and moods. If you are anxious, try and remain calm in front of your child and practice mindfulness and staying in the present. The Child Mind Institute offers several techniques for calming yourself down and being present.

1. Concentrate on your breathing. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest and breathe slowly. Breathe in, feel your belly inflate, pause briefly and exhale. Try 5 breaths. Slowing your body down can help a racing pulse and overwhelming thoughts.

2. Another technique is squeezing your muscles. Start at your toes and squeeze one muscle and count to 5. Let go. Choose a different muscle and repeat.

I was taught how to be grounded. I sit on a chair with my feet flat on the floor and concentrate feeling my feet, wiggling my toes and 'then moving up' my body thinking of each part, my legs, my hips, my back etc. It helps me slow down my breathing and concentrate on the present.

These techniques require practice and it is helpful to do them when you are not anxious so when you are worried you can use them effectively.

I also enjoy being outside, walking on the beach or hiking in the woods. Being part of nature helps me relax. In the early morning, when it is peaceful, I love sitting having a cup of tea and looking at the trees in my yard. I try not to think about the things I cannot control and although it is hard, I avoid the "What if" path. Most of us spend time worrying excessively over things that will not happen.

Do whatever works for you.

What are your triggers?

What makes you anxious? If it is about your child starting or returning to school, can you speak to their teacher? Chat to other moms and learn what helps them? Enquire about the Covid policy at their school? If you are worried about getting your child out the house for school, can you come up with a plan to reduce the stress? A chart on the wall, a timer, choosing clothes the night before? Think about your stressors and try and reduce them.

You do not always have to hide your emotions from your child. At times ( and this is a balance) it is good to speak about your anxiety and show your child how you cope with it.

This teaches your child coping strategies and gives them freedom to express their emotions.

You can say to your child, "I yelled at you to get a move on because I was anxious that you would be late to your soccer match". I am sorry and there is a better way to manage my anxiety. Why don't we come up with a plan to make sure you are not late?"

Don't load your anxieties onto your child but talking about your nervousness before a job interview is fine. Then discuss how you are going to cope with it (taking deep breaths, thinking of something nice, preparing what you will say). You are modeling behavior techniques and showing them that everyone can be nervous, this is normal, and there are effective ways to deal with it.

If you find you are not coping with your anxiety there are wonderful resources, online and in person. Your provider can offer suggestions.

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