New mom "worries"?

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Aly’s Angle on Worry Appointments

Telling yourself not to worry makes you worry more, because you never address the feelings. On the other hand, if you worry all day long, you let worry control your life. There has to be a healthy balance of addressing these feelings without letting them control you.

In sixth grade I struggled with anxiety. I would obsessively worry about homework, which resulted in 1 a.m. bedtimes. I would obsessively worry about thoughts I had in my head, which would create a level of guilt that was consuming.

I didn’t have the filter that would have allowed the thought to come in and then go out of my mind. My mother recognized that my behavior wasn’t normal and proactively took me to therapy where, at a young age, I was able to deal with this lifetime weakness of worry. I was never diagnosed with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) but I did struggle with OCD tendencies. My ability to cope with my worries improved, but it continued in high school and college.

The problem with worry is that I was never living in the moment because I was obsessively thinking about the past and worried about the future. It was consuming.

Fast forward to today. I feel like my tendency to worry has lessened. I’m not sure why, but I give some of the credit to my laid-back husband. He provides a stability and comfort that give me a lot less to worry about. Of course, with all the unknowns of being a new mom, I know that worry will find its way back into my life. This time not only about me, but about our new daughter.

I am making a conscious effort to live a life that isn’t consumed by fear and worry. I want my daughter to know that when you live in fear, you are never present in the moment. It is hard – really hard, sometimes – to work through feelings of anxiety.

I really enjoyed this week’s Be Better challenge Worry Appointments. During your worry appointment, allow yourself to fully worry about whatever is causing you anxiety. Experience the anxiety; don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t worry. I had some complications during my recent labor with my daughter. Although I have no intention of getting pregnant anytime soon, I have worries regarding future pregnancies and labors. This week, I am ready to face them and allow myself to really feel those feelings.

Why I like this challenge? A common trait of people who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder is obsessively worrying and preforming compulsions to reduce the anxiety felt. A well known example of this disorder is obsessive hand-washing because of germs. Washing your hands temporarily reduces anxiety, but next time you think of the germs on your hands (which will happen over and over again), the anxiety increases.

One way to overcome this type of anxiety is exposure therapy. When you feel the urge to wash your hands, don’t do it. Not only that: think about the germs; do not try to rationalize the problem. The germs are there, and you just have to deal with it.

How is this going to make you feel? Probably horrible. Your anxiety is going to skyrocket. But guess what? It is going to go up, then naturally it will come back down. After you experience that wave of anxiety, the next wave will not be as intense because you fully experienced the anxiety. Then the next wave and the next will further lessen your anxiety.