In Madeline Levine’s informative and wildly popular New York Times article “Raising Successful Children”, she points out that one of our jobs as parents is to control our anxiety. We need to do this to be good roles models and to make good parenting decisions.
This can be easier said than done. In fact I know parents that have increased their anxiety levels because they know that their stress levels are negatively affecting their kids and that stresses them out even more!
Before anyone jumps on the stress and anxiety wheel, read below the 5 simple tips for decreasing your anxiety.
- TAKE THE DEEP BREATH – Tried and true, deep breathing is a stress buster. Deep breathing on a regular basis or before an anxious situation makes one more resilient to the effects of stress. When feeling anxious, deep breathing can reverses the stress response in your brain and body.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF about healthy parenting. Be firm about your own values so that you don’t feel swayed or anxious by what other parents are doing. Madeline Levine’s book “Teach Your Children Well” is a good book for learning about healthy parenting. Another resource is Standford University’s Challenge Success Web Site.
- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON – when you first notice feelings of anxiety, stop for a moment. Take a few deep belly breaths. If your child is expecting an immediate answer or reaction, then say something like “Let me think for a moment before I answer”, “I want to take a few deep breaths before I respond to that.” Or even “Just a moment”.
- FIND COMMUNITY – Finding a positive, supportive community is helpful. You can look online for parenting groups in your area that you would find supportive and enjoyable. You can also join online groups such as The 2 Minute Yoga Solution for Parents, which is a resource for connecting with others online and in person.
- PRACTICE CENTERING – While sitting still with eyes open or closed or while engaging in other activities that don’t require your full attention – such as doing the dishes, waiting in line at a store, taking a walk etc. – practice this affirmation “I am safe, I am sound. All good things come to me they give me peace.” At first it may just feel like an affirmation, but the more you practice and the deeper you develop your concentration, the more you will actually feel peaceful.