It’s been 21 weeks since we brought our little one home.

I still remember that first night, how her shrieks wouldn’t stop and her tiny face turning blue. I was exhausted and crying, gliding her swaddled body across my chest, thinking that I was already a terrible mother for not being able to comfort her. In desperation, I woke up my husband at 4 in the morning, handing her over and demanding that I need sleep (I was working off of 3 hours from the night previous). That first night I felt like a failure.

There are days where I still feel like one. Days that I let my worries get the best of me and feel as if I’m robbing myself of moments that could potentially be great. I find myself imagining the worst, having excessive or unrealistic worries about her, and of other topics that directly relate to her (finances, productivity, my relationship with my husband)

I think I let my anxiety consume me because I am now responsible for a tiny human, and sometimes it can be nothing but stressful.

Here are some of the worries that I have:

♦ Worrying about her formula intake, if it’s too little or too much because it varies at her feedings. I know she’s eating enough because her weigh-ins are more than normal, and my doctor keeps calling her perfect.

♦ Worrying about her lack of napping throughout the day, we’re lucky if we get 20-minute intervals, but she still sleeps like the dead and gives us 8-10 hours at night.

♦ Worrying about her bowel movements because sometimes she can skip a day but lets out enormous farts like her mother. (no shame!)

♦ Worrying that she’s not getting enough fresh air even though I try my hardest to take her on walks when I feel able

♦ Worrying at each cry that I’m not giving her what she needs even though I have a handle on her variations

♦ Worrying that I’m not teaching her or entertaining her enough each day even though she shows many advanced skills for her age

♦ Worrying that she’ll somehow stop breathing during the night and waking myself up to check our video monitor. I know that this is highly unlikely, but this runs in the back of my mind a lot.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

When I take a step back and assess my worries, I know that this is normal. Whether or not each mom feels the same way as I do will vary, and I’m not here to compare my anxiety to others, so don’t do the same for yourself either.

The best thing that you can do when you’re in these moments like myself is to talk it out, but if you can’t at the moment there are ways to clear your mind and redirect those vibes

  1. MOVE!

Whatever type of physical activity you can do, do it. Whether it’s walking, dancing, working out or just walking up and down your stairs doing chores, do it. This is a win-win situation; you’re redirecting your thoughts PLUS working out in the process.

  1. Fuel your body right

It’s effortless to forget about yourself when all your time and effort is directed towards a tiny human. Here are three easy things that you can do right now

A) Nap. If you can, squeeze in some shut-eye over doing another chore. Sleep deprivation only makes you more nervous and anxious in the long run

B) Food Intake. Take an hour on Sunday to prepare some healthy snacks or meals for your week, if you can (example: cut up some fruits/veggies to save yourself time) or honestly, buy perfect portioned yogurts, cottage cheese, apple sauce, etc. Taking out the bad carbs will leave you with fewer mood swings and cravings for junk food.

C) Caffeine Intake. If you drink more than two cups of coffee or soda a day, try to cut it down to a reasonable number. I’ve limited my caffeine intake to once a day, and have noticed a considerable difference

  1. F*ck Chores

Don’t let chores or preparing each meal every day become a burden. If you’re too stressed to do it, there is nothing wrong with getting take out/using paper plates or leaving the dishes for another time or day. We can’t always be ‘perfect.’

One of the hardest things that I’ve ever done was loving myself again after many narcissist relationships. It wasn’t an easy feat either; I had no memo, no guidelines, no one to ask where to start. There was one thing that I did know, that I couldn’t move forward in life without starting somewhere.

My first step was getting a new apartment, all by myself. I never lived on my own before, and I was petrified. I was fresh out of a failed relationship which I should have left years ago, and every night I succumbed to crying nightly, feeling sorry for myself. I knew if I continued on this path that I would go back to the same old Andrea, and to completely heal myself from this I had to start fresh and become the person that I so longed to be.

I spent many nights trying to figure out what I wanted, and it was gut-wrenching & hard but precisely what I needed. I came face to face with my failures over again and the heartaches that crept in deep within. I was starting to be honest with myself for the first time in years, and there were truths that I had buried that finally came forth. I had no idea that healing myself meant going through every emotion that I tried to hide because I wasn’t comfortable with it. Once I started to accept everything that happened to me – every decision that I ever made – I began to live my life finally.

I know how hard it is to work on yourself, I’ve been there, and I’m still learning.

What I would love to give to you is at least some guidelines on how to start down this path so you can try your hardest to be the person you WANT to be.

  1. Stop worrying so much what others think or say about you. Remember, this is YOUR life – you are not living for others. Also, fuck Gossip: a negative mind will never give you a positive life.
  2. No matter how hard you try – you can’t be right all the time. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can move forward.
  3. There is no such thing as “Perfect,” especially when it comes to our bodies. Accept your flaws and try to learn how to love your body – Do not accept the marketing lies as your standard.
  4. Whatever happened in the past is where it will stay, you cannot change it and wasting your time thinking/stressing over it will not help in the slightest. Also don’t stress over the “What-ifs,” just because it could have been different doesn’t mean it would have been better.
  5. Don’t regret what has happened. Learn to accept that what you did was YOUR decision and take accountability for it.
  6. Set boundaries with those who surround you, you’ll quickly find those toxic people that you need to remove from your life and PLEASE do so.
  7. Don’t be afraid to fail, this is all apart of your learning process, and everyone goes through this at some point or another. Pick yourself up and “just keep swimming!”.
  8. There will always be people who will have “more” than what you do. A better job, house, etc. Don’t let this be intimidating to you – appreciate and take care of what you DO have. Don’t care about material possessions so much; it doesn’t guarantee happiness – building a memorable life does.
  9. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to satisfy everyone out there so stop putting all of your energy into those who don’t understand you.
  10. OWN it. Embrace your weird & flaws, show the world that you’re not afraid to be yourself. You will find your tribe and support system when you start to glow

Have you ever been so stressed that your body has just given up on you?

There are times when I try to push through discomfort and stress, but sometimes that ends up making me sicker in the end. Trying to pinpoint why I’ve been overly stressed is a little hard, but I think I’m angry at myself for not recovering fully from my last car accident. Due to this, I’ve been battling the flu/cold for a little over a week now, and I’m just thankful that I didn’t end up missing more work than I needed to (sometimes, I’m not that lucky!)

I forget that taking care of yourself means that you also need to look after your physical health, too.
When I went back into Physiotherapy, I was initially told that my lower back pains weren’t as bad as I thought. I was a little concerned as the pain was consistent and didn’t seem related to my pregnancy in the slightest. When I went to their Massage Therapist for a consultation weeks later, I found out that my ribs were out of place and since I was pregnant, we would have to split the treatments in two. He worked on my left-hand side first and not only did my lower back pain almost dissipate, but I was able to take deep breaths again.

I couldn’t believe it. A month of worrying and overthinking that my back pains would never subside, I was on the right track. My anxiety did not help my physical health – I need to remember how highly intertwined both our physical and mental health is.
I was feeling inadequate over not being able to do basic activities, and this caused my stress levels to skyrocket, not to mention interrupt my sleep patterns. I wish I had a button that I could switch off during these times.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadians who report mental health symptoms can experience three times as many chronic physical conditions compared to the general population

signs-of-stress-on-the-body

People tend to brush stress aside, but we need to look at it more seriously. Think of it like a see-saw; if we don’t have a handle on our physical health, our mental health will suffer and vice versa.
We aren’t always aware of what we’re going through or even open up to others about our struggles. It takes a lot of strength to be open and honest that you need help or support (and arguably the most difficult step) but the sooner help can be provided, the more likely you will experience benefits of treatment (whether it be physiotherapy or therapy!)

Check out my friend's blog "Work Out, Feel Good" 

I’ve lived with anxiety for the majority of my life, yet, I still get surprised when it hits me unexpectedly in my daily routine.

A lot of time it feels as if my anxiety is in control of everything until it just isn’t. I wish I could explain that sentence a little better, but those who are blessed with this ‘curse’ can understand. If we aren’t mindful of how it manifests it’s easier for it to consume our whole being and live in the spotlight.

I’m lucky enough to know what my red-flags are and I try to catch these things early on as I can – when I was talking to a friend the other day about this, I realized that these red-flags, although accustomed to some, can be quite challenging.

I’ve compiled a short list of 5 red flags that anxiety might be controlling your life:

  1. Avoidance

Avoiding too many things that you know you shouldn’t is the number one indication that anxiety is front and center. It’s one of the many coping mechanisms that I use to welcome; “freezing” causes us to run from a situation that could potentially cause something worse for that individual.  You start to avoid that coffee shop that you and your ex frequented, you avoid calling back a family member in fear of judgement over a situation, or you avoid checking your e-mail, so you don’t have to subject yourself to whatever is happening at work. Once you realize that you’re avoiding a lot of things you can tell that your anxiety is taking control over what you can and cannot do. I’m still navigating this one, but I always tend to push myself no matter how uncomfortable it may seem.

2. Worrying

Worrying comes hand in hand with anxiety, but it’s important to know that worrying needs to be within a controlled limit. Anxiety has a mind of its own and once your worrying run wilds, it will become out of control. The proper thing to do here is focus – know when the worrying shifts from something normal to something out of reach, the best thing to do is block your thoughts. Easier said than done, but here’s an example: You start to doubt yourself if you’re capable of something or whether you deserve love – stop. These thoughts are not you, they are your anxiety, and they’re trying to control the way you worry. Daily affirmations have been key sometimes for me in this situation – know that everyone is capable; everyone deserves love.

3. Stuck in the Future

The worst part about our anxious thoughts is that it takes us out of our present situation and sets up shop in our future what-ifs. When you cannot enjoy and be present in what’s happening at the moment, consider this a red flag. This is exhausting and will continue, making us more anxious about focusing what WILL happen instead of what is currently happening. It’s hard to get back into the present moment, but I have found that breathing exercises, along with yoga or mindful meditation can bring you back at peace and start living in the present again

4. You stop chasing your wants

This marries with the previous flag of being stuck in the future when your mind throws you a bunch of “what ifs” and you get so consumed by them that you stop chasing what you want in life. Let’s use this example: You want to quit your job and become a full-time freelance writer…
What if you can’t make enough to pay your rent? What if this means you can never take a vacation again? What if something health-wise were to happen, you now have no benefits! What if you can’t handle all of this and become a shell of a person that you once were?
Do you see where I’m going with this?
You’re self-sabotaging and preventing yourself from the life that you want deep down inside of you. I’m not saying to go and quit your job tomorrow, but you need to start recognizing these intrusive thoughts as a part of your anxiety.

5. You’re no longer you

This is probably the most important one because your anxiety is starting to make you feel like “less” than you are. Once your self-esteem takes a hit, you start to doubt everything and accept that you’re not capable of handling anything that comes your way. You start to feel inadequate with those surrounding you, making their everyday struggles seem so easy to yours. Its normal for self-doubt to come out once in a blue moon, but when it starts to appear and happen more frequently, this is a major sign that anxiety has not only taken over your life but your perception of it as well.

When we start to feel that anxiety defines us as a person – that’s when you know it’s too dominant in your life.

Do you have any other flags that you would like to add to this list? Feel free to comment below!