Top tips for taming anxiety with a toddler in tow

The last few weeks have been pretty bonkers. So much so that this week, now that everything has started to calm down just a little bit, I’ve found myself struggling to focus and teetering on the edge of panic at the slightest thing.

It’s a tendency I recognise from periods in my life when I have been overcome by anxiety. Not the anxiety that is borne of a genuinely nerve-wracking situation, but rather the insidious and potentially overwhelming feeling that the world is about to spiral out of control.

It’s frustrating to say the least – there was so much I wanted to get done this week, and sitting here now at the tail end of it there is so much I haven’t achieved. But most of what I wanted to do required focus, a clear head – and those are the things that have been most elusive.

IMG_0944

The difference though this time round is that I’ve recognised my symptoms for what they are – my sometimes fragile mental health crying out for a little attention after a relentless period where I was embroiled in the unknown territory of election campaigning (it worked by the way!), and my core support network of husband and mum have themselves been tied up in finals revision and preparing for my brother’s wedding respectively. But my anxiety hasn’t got the better of me, and I have made every effort to make sensible choices to enable myself to keep going.

Being accompanied by a toddler pretty much every minute of every day has definitely added a different dimension to that process. And not necessarily in a bad way.

It seems pretty apt, with this week being Mental Health Awareness Week, that I share a little of what’s been on my mind. So without further ado, these are my top tips for taming anxiety with a toddler in tow.

1) Catch up on sleep

I reckon this is possibly the most vital, though also the trickiest, part of the plan. I have tried to get to bed a bit earlier this week, though I’ve never really been very good at the discipline that involves (especially as we’re deep in the midst of season five of The Walking Dead).

For me snatching sleep has mostly happened during the day – taking my iPad up to bed so in the morning the toddler can snuggle up with a movie whilst I get a few extra zzzs, and for the first time in ages trying to nap when he naps.

I realise I’m lucky he still does, else I’m not entirely sure how I would have coped…

2) Eat healthily

I’m ordinarily pretty good at keeping a healthy diet going for all of us, but it had certainly started to slip over the last couple of weeks. I couldn’t face the battles that potentially ensued if I moved too far from toast and pasta, and didn’t have the energy to prepare something different for myself so ended up having my diet dictated by a two year old.

IMG_0987

It’s silly, because I know how much good food makes the difference. This week I’ve been upping the fruit and veg, cutting down on carbs, (mostly) remembering to take my supplements – and feeling all the better for it.

3) Get some exercise

There’s been an awful lot of walking involved in the election campaign, but that was accompanied by a sense of drudgery in the later stages. This week I’ve, albeit tentatively, started reintegrating yoga and hula-hooping into my routine. With that and the Friday trampolining sessions that I’ve just about managed to keep ticking over I’ve started to feel the spring returning to my step.

4) Get outside

I have a real tendency when I’m feeling overwhelmed to go into hibernation mode – even opening the doors to the garden can feel like too much at times. But having a little person around who would ideally spent every waking moment outside definitely comes in handy.

IMG_1118

We’ve had lunch outside a couple of times this week, and spent time just lounging around and looking up at the sky. The sunshine has helped – but actually the fresh air simply works wonders whatever the weather.

5) Tidy up!

Now this is something I’m rubbish at, and I still have a long way to go, but it is amazing how getting rid of the mess and the clutter makes the world seem so much more manageable!

I had a bit of a manic afternoon on Wednesday getting the kitchen ship shape as yesterday morning we were visited by a reporter from our local BBC News to interview me in relation to the local elections. It felt a little bit like torture at the time, but the kitchen is now definitely my happy place, a little oasis of calm amongst the widespread detritus which has come from just not having a second to get things under control (at least not without the toddler wreaking his own brand of havoc).

6) Tick some things off your to-do list

Now I have to admit first of all that the ever-increasing list of things I have to do is still residing mainly in my head. I know this isn’t helpful. My poor diary, that gave me such satisfaction when I first filled it in back in January, hasn’t had a look in for weeks.

I’ll work on that…

But in the meantime I have been having stern words with myself about just getting things done rather than ruminating over how much I need to do them. Writing blog posts, for example. Or emails. Or paying bills. All sorts of little bits and pieces that have literally felt like a weight off my mind once I’ve actually achieved them.

(It still took me until this evening to get round to writing this post. I never said I was perfect.)

7) Be kind to yourself

This is another biggie, and is one that is challenging to put into practise when your head is full of noise. But in order not to be consumed by it, it is vital to work on your internal dialogue.

I say dialogue, because at times like this there are two voices in my head rather than just the one. There’s one that seems determined to pull me down – with comparisons, with regrets, with paranoia. And there’s another, the one that needs to fight to get heard, that is trying its utmost to focus on the positive – to remember that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to slow down, it’s ok not to achieve everything I wanted to, because actually, on balance, I’m doing a pretty awesome job of this whole life business.

8) Make the most of all the cuddles

This is where the toddler truly comes into his own, where having an extra little shadow really does become a blessing rather than just another cause of messiness and having too much to juggle.

I don’t know about yours, but my little person absolutely loves to snuggle up. Not all the time, but certainly more than I normally slow down to give him credit for. And this week I have been making the most of all of that physical contact filled with warmth and love – whether it’s lingering in bed a little longer in the mornings, cosying down together to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the umpteenth time, or seeing off an approaching tantrum by whipping him up into the sling.

IMG_1219

There have been many times when I have been the centre of calm for my child, but it is a wonderful realisation that he can return that favour too.

 

My word of the week this week is anxiety.

The Reading Residence

Also linking up with this week’s prompt of calm. I’m getting there!

mumturnedmom
Mums' Days

16 thoughts on “Top tips for taming anxiety with a toddler in tow

  1. mydofelife

    Must recommend to anyone at the moment the mindfulness book/cdhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/074995308X that I was pointed in the direction of last autumn. Absolutely life-changing – I have dealt with a period of change and upset in family life in a way that I never thought possible as a result of using this, and will continue to do so. Feeling the value of the small things that little people can so often remind us of, as they go through their lives absolutely in the moment, no thoughts of ‘what if’ or memories that over-inform their judgement. Well done on the election!! I wish the independent vote had extended as far as the mayoral post…

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Thanks for the recommendation – I’ve just ordered a copy! I have dipped into some stuff on mindfulness, but really need to invest the time to explore it properly… As for that mayoral vote – what on earth happened!? Just have to hope GO rises above everyone’s expectations…

      Reply
      1. mydofelife

        Won’t hold my breathe on that – the paper suggests that one of his priorities might be changing perfectly acceptable traffic light junctions into roundabouts (near his house!).
        We’re currently planning a programme to bring in mindfulness for staff and students at school, which will take a while to get up and running, but should be really helpful for everyone involved. Lots of documented success in schools, and I saw a good book in the Torbay Bookshop this morning, which I will read at some point http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/190874636X/?tag=googhydr-21&hvadid=64347564855&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18110061450535838071&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_35z4i0hel_e

  2. thereadingresidence

    Brilliant tips and list, Sophie. I know I always feel calmer taking time out for cuddles with my two and a breath of fresh air. Untidiness and clutter always unsettles me and makes me irritable, and the sleep thing – so true, yet so challenging with kids! Thank you for sharing with #WotW and I do hope that next week’s a better one for you x

    Reply
    1. sophieblovett Post author

      I do sometimes wonder whether just a weekend spent catching up on sleep (properly) as I used to do pre-kids would sort me out straight away! But the cuddles are pretty magic… x

      Reply
  3. Lukeosaurus And Me

    These are really great tips! I think living with anxiety is so difficult with a toddler and I find myself wanting to go into hibernation mode too – tricky with a toddler about! There are so many things, like sleep/diet/exercise that we all know we should pay close attention to and try and fit in a good bit of these things into each day, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Sleep is definitely something I need to work on. I get a bit manic when there’s mess too – I let my home get into a state that makes me snap and get grumpy until everything is perfectly clean again. These are some great tips, going to give them a little share on my Facebook page and Twitter. Ray xx #thelist

    Reply
  4. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    Absolutely love this post, such incredibly sensible tips but so easy to forget in the face of stress. I can completely relate to wanting to go into hibernation mode, but toddlers really are the best at taking our mind off things and reminding us what’s important! I’m fighting with the clutter at the moment, but starting to make progress and that immediately helps my state of mind. Great post, thanks so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

    Reply
  5. Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk)

    Sending you hugs first and foremost! I tend to sleep a lot when I am getting sad. Time stops. When my son is at school I will sleep and wake up in time to pick him up. Like theres nothing in life that is worth waking up for. The tips that you gave is easy enough to do and so worth trying. Thanks for sharing. #wotw

    Reply
  6. Astrid

    These are some great tips. Particularly, eating healthily and doing some yoga has been helpful for me too. It is interesting that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and #theprompt is ‘cam”.

    Reply
  7. tracey at Mummyshire

    I think our list pretty much sums it up – getting some balance and perspective into your life, and celebrating little successes, no matter how small they may be, by ticking them off a to-do list just reaffirms that things are moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.
    #ThePrompt

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Amazing words: amazing women | Sophie is…

  9. Rachael

    Oh yes, To all of this! Sleep and getting outside ring so true for me. As for ticking things off the to-do list, yes doing is better than ruminating. However I need to remind myself to celebrate what’s one the ‘done’ list too!

    Reply
  10. hannah mum's days

    Great post love, I can relate to the anxiety thing (although for far less exciting reasons) and sometimes the last thing I want to do are the things that will make me feel better! i can really start to put off things like exercise and going out, when actually when I”m out doing it I love it. Weird head. Sleep is also a huge deal breaker. The sides really start to fall off if I don’t get enough! Thanks for linking up to #TheList xx

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s