Stress and Anxiety—Two Uninvited Guests
Stress and Anxiety are like two aggravating, uninvited guests who come into your life to steal your peace and rob you of the joy your present life offers.
As a single mom, I can remember the stress and anxiety I felt when I had to rely on my family to watch my oldest daughter while I went to work. I was proud of myself for working full time and supporting us both, but I was stressed about leaving her for so long.
What if she lost her bond to me?
What if she gets sick and I am not there?
How do I make up this lost time with her later?
I was so focused on what could go wrong, that I didn’t see what was going right.
If we don’t learn how to look at our stressors differently and practice self-care, we may miss those special little moments only single moms have.
You are a champion. Set yourself up for triumph. You don’t need to let stress and anxiety drag you down. Below are some ways I began throwing off anxiety, participating more fully in my own life, and living with intentionality.
4 Healthy Habits to Combat Stress and Anxiety
You pour everything you have into being a mother, so you need to remember to refill your cup as well! This is a guilt-free zone. All of these ideas are necessary and vital to staying spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy so you can be the best mom for your child(ren).
#1: Focus on Self-care
I used to compare myself to other single moms. They always looked put together, not a hair out of place. I watched their energy as they played with their kids after an 8-hour workday. I saw their spotless houses. They didn’t seem to need much sleep. How does that even happen?
I wanted their life, so I thought that meant stretching myself thin to feel like a “good mother.” Unfortunately, my energy level peaked by 11am, my hair was usually tossed up in a messy mom-bun, and I needed frequent naps to sustain my energy. #fail
But I wasn’t failing.
I just needed to stop looking at everyone else and start taking care of myself.
I knew if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I would be a grouchy mom the next day. If I didn’t take that hour of me-time while my daughter played with her toys, I may become resentful of all the attention she needed. I knew if I didn’t rejuvenate with friends, I would feel burnt out.
Focusing on yourself is not selfish. We all need self-care, and what you need might look a little different from other moms. Make sure you are:
- Getting enough sleep (seriously)
- Keeping up a healthy prayer life
- Taking time for just you (without guilt)
- Staying active in some way
- Drinking enough water & eating balanced meals
- Seeking help when you need it (without guilt)
#2: Start Journaling
Some of the anxiety and stress we feel is from keeping things hidden inside. We may feel like we are bothering others if we need counsel, or we may suffer from rose-colored glasses syndrome because we’d rather avoid diving into how we really feel.
Avoidance and denial are stepping stones to stress and anxiety.
When we verbalize our feelings or write them down, anxiety starts to lose its power. Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them. Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts.
#3: Seek a Community
It’s really important to make sure you are not isolating yourself. Finding a community of women who are going through (or have gone through) what you are is so important.
We are meant to do life with friends and community.
Having mom-friends can really become a wonderful support system. When you’re together, don’t feel embarrassed to open up and share struggles and concerns because isolation causes stress and anxiety. If you share your life, you’ll feel more heard and seen—and you’ll help other moms experience less isolation as well.
#4: Practicing an Active Prayer Life
I am a control freak. It comes from years of uncertainty as a child, and from my previous relationships. Sometimes, I also have a hard time asking for help and I am a little headstrong.
I have also battled anxiety my whole life. I spent several years in therapy, reading self-help books, and studying abnormal behavior because I was passionate about getting better and understanding myself. All of those things helped me immensely, but Jesus is the ultimate restorer. We can drink all the green tea, do all the mediation, and read all of the self-help books, but true restoration and relaxation come from knowing who we are in Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.
Prayer is a time to let go of control and ask the Lord for help.
You don’t have to be a supermom during prayer. When you come to God in prayer, you don’t need to pretend to have it all together. You can come as you are—hot mess and all—and let go of the things that are causing your anxiety. Give those things to God and ask him to help you.
I personally enjoy using a daily devotional as part of my prayer life, because they don’t take a lot of time and fill my mind with truth.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30
There’s Beauty in the Journey
Unfortunately, I am not a patient person, especially in times of personal growth. I find myself wishing I could fast forward to a future time when everything is solved, and exactly how I want it.
When I was a single mom, living in a small apartment with my oldest daughter, I remember just feeling so much stress about how much better life would be if I just had a nicer house. If I just could afford that new toy she wanted. If I had a nicer car. If I could skip the next few years and get to the part where I would live my happily ever after.
As a result, I missed out on the quiet mornings, with just me and my daughter. I didn’t appreciate the fact that I didn’t have to share her with anyone else. I became so obsessed with wishing about my more-wonderful-future that I found myself emotionally distant in the present. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Have patience with yourself.
Remember, it’s ok to figure things out as you go. You do not need to have everything decided or figured out right now. Focus on today, and let God take care of your future. You’re not alone. He’s on this journey with you.
So, the next time Fear and Anxiety come knocking on your door–and they will–tell them you’re busy taking care of yourself, writing in your journey, hanging out with girlfriends, or spending time in prayer. You didn’t invite them anyway.
Shepherd’s Village University: A FREE online learning center focused on equipping and strengthening today’s single mother.
Penzu: an online journal that is password protected. It’s easy to use, and you can add photos to your journal entries.
It’s a Single Mom Thing: Join our community of moms on our Facebook page!
Need Prayer?: We have an online prayer request form and we’d love to pray for you. You can also call our prayer hotline if you’d like to pray with someone directly 855-822-PRAY
About the Author:
Christen Peterson loves volunteering her time to nonprofits and has a heart for those in need. She was a single mom to her oldest daughter until she met her husband in Idaho, where they lived for 17 years before moving to Florida. Together, they have been involved in ministry for over 10 years and have three daughters and four dogs.