Are you a homeschool mom suffering from anxiety? I completely understand what you’re going through!
I feel it as I write, that tightness in my chest that won’t give up. I consciously take breaths in through my nose and blow out through my mouth. Although I don’t feel like the air gets where it needs to go I tell myself it does and I’m fine, I’m always fine. For some people this is how they feel each and every day, I was like that years ago but with work and patience, I’ve managed to keep my anxiety level to more of a dull annoyance. The people that know me best know about my struggles, but from the outside, anyone who meets me would never know I’ve dealt with anxiety for almost 10 years. I seem to have it put together, I homeschool my 4 kids all ages 12 and under, I organize a thriving homeschool group in our community, shuffle my kids to and from activities, and even manage to have a date night here or there with my husband. Some days I even forget that I get anxious, the symptom’s seem to have disappeared, until they creep back in like an unwelcome neighbor. If you’re reading this I want you to know that it is possible to homeschool your children while living with anxiety. In fact, its brought me great amounts of joy and relief. Yes, people say I’m crazy, how can having a chaotic house full of 4 kids help my anxiety? They’ll probably say the same to you. I answer with because its where my heart is and how I want my kid’s childhood to be so they can grow into happy, healthy adults. The stress is there of course but to me, it is nothing compared to the stress I had dropping my two oldest off at school every morning and picking up two sad, deflated young kids at the end of the day. If your heart is leaning towards homeschooling as well but you’re worried you will fail your children because of your anxiety- I say give it a try. Schools will always be there to fall back on, and the benefits that your family will gain from home educating are life-changing. I’d love to share some coping mechanisms that have helped me over the years and that are totally doable even in the middle of your school day. *
Distraction– When my anxiety is in full gear I like to use distractions to help me get out of my own head.
A great read-aloud or a board game that fully immerses me usually does the trick. Sometimes even getting messy in the kitchen baking a cake for no reason will take my mind off the fact that my chest is tight and stomach is in knots. Grab your kiddos and tell them math worksheets are off the table today and maybe play a fun math game with them instead. Instead of your grammar workbooks get a magnetic poetry set and see who can make the funniest sentences…I bet by the time an hour has gone by you’ll be feeling much better. It’s ok to let bookwork slide when you need to, your kids will love the change of pace and it’ll lower your stress greatly. Just try not to start feeling guilty about missing a day of curriculum work because I know, I’ve been there. As a matter of fact, I have a whole post about it. Sometimes we just have to choose our mental health first.
Exercise- Whether you love it or hate it, exercise is proven to relieve stress and release endorphins.
I know it can be so hard to get going. After homeschooling kids all day, cooking, cleaning, shuffling to activities who wants to do anything other than sit in a comfy armchair and relax with a cup of tea right? My advice is to find something you love. Maybe going for a hike is your thing, rock climbing, swimming laps at the gym, or kicking some butt at a self-defense type class, whatever it is once you find something you really enjoy doing it won’t feel as terrible to get started. It may take some time to find your thing, but once you do I promise you won’t be counting down the clock until your workout is over and you’ll leave there feeling way less anxious.
EFT Tapping- Another wonderful tool to help me cope has been EFT tapping also known as Emotional Freedom Technique.
It is based on Traditional Chinese medicine and it works by stimulating certain acupressure points in the body to balance energy channels. Once the energy can flow freely in the body you feel an instant sense of calm. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to tap but of course, if you’d like to really delve into the subject I highly recommend The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living by Nick Ortner or Tapping Into Ultimate Success: How to Overcome Any Obstacle and Skyrocket Your Results by Jack Canfield. The bonus is your kids will see you doing it and totally crack up at you, but you’ll be modeling a great technique that they can use also, even throughout childhood.
Essential Oils- I’m also a huge believer in essential oils.
I am obsessed with Young Living’s Stress- Away and Peace and Calming blends. I apply either of these to my wrists and behind my earlobes and take 3 deep calming breaths and it really does help my breathing get back to normal. I use a diffuser like this one especially on rough days to diffuse different blends. Since I have driving anxiety I will usually have a cotton ball soaked in Stress-away shoved into my ac vent on my car. It does double duty by hiding the smell of my son’s sock collection in the back seat.
Supplements- I’ve become pretty adventurous with new supplements.
Whole Foods is my friend.Natural Vitality Natural Calm has been a staple for me for over 5 years now and it really helps me in the moment when nothing else seems to work. I try to use it as a maintenance tool as well. I love the Bach Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief Pastilles also especially for on the go and when I’m having driving anxiety, these really take the edge off and help me make it from point A to point B.
Journaling- We teach our kids how to write, from sentence structure to dialogue to essays, and everything in between but how often are we writing for ourselves?
For me writing is a source or relief, just getting my feelings out of my head and onto paper. Most of the time I end up writing things I didn’t even realize were going on in my head. Even if you don’t have a beautiful leather bound journal and all you can manage is a few choppy thoughts in your phones notes section you’re starting somewhere. If writing isn’t your thing maybe calling or texting someone you can confide in and getting your feelings out instead of letting them ruminate should provide some relief. I know this may require some time to yourself but hey there’s always tablets or netflix to keep the kids entertained so you can have a much needed 10 minutes of solitude. If you find a documentary for them look at that homeschool is taken care of for the day and you took some much needed me time.
Leaving the house- I know it may be hard for some but I do find that pushing myself out of the house even when I’m feeling that dull anxious feeling usually pays off.
Being around my friends especially if we are outside on a hike or at the park chatting about our kids and our homeschooling struggles takes me out of my own head and by the time I get home later, I am almost always feeling much better. I’ve even been honest with other homeschooling moms and flat out told them I was feeling super anxious that day and I’ve been met with nothing but love and solidarity. You aren’t alone, there are so many of us mothers especially homeschooling mothers that live with anxiety daily. I hope you can use some of my ideas to help you work through a tough day. I’d love to hear some of your coping mechanisms for anxiety or depression and how you have pushed through and followed your calling to homeschool your children.
*I am not a doctor so please seek out medical help if you’re struggling with anxiety and coping mechanisms are not helping.
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