Being a parent doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Actually, now that we mention it, neither does being a human. And while life may have a board game named after it, the actual thing doesn’t have a how-to guide either. Sure, we want to set the best example for our children. However, don’t hold yourself to impossible standards.
You may feel like a superhero as a parent. Just remember, even Clark Kent could be weakened. While Kryptonite did Superman in, our mental health is the antagonist that brings us down.
So, how do you try to set the best example for your loved ones when you’re not feeling your best self? Start with taking a deep breath. Next, read on as we present five effective ways to manage stress, anxiety, and depression as a parent.
1. Realize You’re Not Alone
As a parent, our biggest fear is screwing up this highly-impressionable (and absolutely adorable) little being. While our intentions are the best, the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves may do more harm than good.
There’s a stigma that surrounds mental health. Luckily, the dialogue surrounding mental illness is starting to transform the conversation. Consequently, as we discuss mental health more, the cloud of a stigma surrounding this wellness sector continues to lift.
Don’t be ashamed. There is nothing abnormal about not “feeling normal.” After all, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in four people suffer from a sort of neurological disorder. Some of the most common mental health disorders include chronic stress, depression, and anxiety.
Who is to say that experiencing symptoms of these conditions aren’t “normal?” By feeling the need to hide your struggles, you are painting common conditions in a negative light in the eyes of your children. They may feel more scared when bouts of anxiety, depression, or stress hit them. In turn, they may hide these feelings from you.
Start an open dialogue. If you are feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed, don’t hide it from your child. Obviously, you don’t want to dwell in it. In the same breath, you don’t want them to see the worst of your symptoms. However, starting the dialogue helps lift the stigma and the pressure of having to hide your true feelings at all times.
By talking about your issues, it may actually help you confront them head-on. It’s in these moments of clarity that we can take a step outside of our bodies and assess what is causing these feelings. From there, we can work toward addressing these concerns.
2. Don’t Forget Who You Are as An Individual
We wear many hats. For most, being a parent is the best hat in the closet. While we do everything we can for our children, we must take care of ourselves first. It’s like the words of RuPaul, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the heck are you going to love someone else?”
Think of those emergency videos that play before an airplane takes off. In the case of emergency, oxygen masks fall from the ceiling. What’s the first thing they tell you to do? Put the mask on yourself. Then you can help your child.
You are doing your child a disservice if you aren’t bringing forth your best self. The best way to accomplish this is what we like to call self-care.
That’s right. Carve out some me-time. Remember who you were before you were a parent. There was a person that had passions, hobbies, and interests. Find time to pursue those.
If it seems impossible, speak to your spouse or a family member. See if they can watch the kids while you spend a half hour on yourself.
Self-care isn’t just important as you are actively parenting. By linking to the person you were before children, it will make the transition to an empty nest much easier. If you thought coping with stress, depression, or anxiety as a parent is hard when the kids are young, imagine how difficult it is if you let being a parent solely define your existence. Get back to your roots by getting back to you.
3. Get Moving Around
Parenthood is like a whirlwind. You’re picking one kid up while dropping the other off. Plus, you have to find time to help with homework, clean the house, cook the food, pay the bills, and spend quality time with your spouse. No wonder you are stressed!
Anytime we encounter stress; it sends off a trigger throughout the body. Immediately, the adrenal glands kick into next gear. Adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol into the system.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps our body navigate through stressful situations. In small doses, cortisol is useful. However, the longer cortisol sticks around, the more problems we have.
When cortisol rules the kingdom, it leaves little room for pivotal neurotransmitters. In particular, cortisol impedes the production of:
- Dopamine (neurotransmitter that promotes joy)
- Serotonin (sedative-like neurotransmitter essential in immune health)
- Melatonin (hormone that causes us to fall asleep)
- GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that brings pain relief)
- Reproductive hormones (testosterone and estrogen)
As stress piles on, cortisol continues to be produced. It gets to the point where your body can’t use it all. When cortisol gets out of control, it may lead to symptoms and conditions such as:
- Mood swings
- Lack of sleep
- Sexual dysfunction
- Body dysmorphia
- Decreased immune function
Stress facilitates the production of more stress. As cortisol continues to seep into the system, excessive levels of this hormone get stored inside of our fat cells. This distribution of fat cells is why studies link high levels of stress to weight gain.
Burning calories will help us break up adipose tissue littering our gut lining. Shedding adipose tissue causes the cortisol stored in your belly to dissipate. Ridding the body of fat tissue depletes cortisol levels and effectively leaves room for beneficial hormones to enter the system.
Secondly, exercise produces endorphins. This is a blanket term used to describe the handy hormones outlined above. By exercising, you will not only feel better physically but emotionally as well!
4. Make Changes to Your Diet
Sometimes being a parent can be so exhausting that we look for shortcuts wherever we can find them. Unfortunately, the first corners we tend to cut are dietary ones.
With all the juggling we do between work, relationships, and children, we tend to gravitate toward a life of convenience. However, the fast food joint on the corner, the frozen TV dinners in the grocery store, and those sugary cereals in the pantry aren’t the answer.
The truth of the matter is the food we eat is adding to the stress. After all, one-third of the human population is considered overweight. As we mentioned earlier, fat tissue likes to hoard cortisol. See the connection here?
Not to mention, these convenient foods are inconvenient for our body. Our system is designed to digest foods comprised of organic compounds. Refined sugars, foods fried in saturated fats, and artificial additives end up clogging up the system.
As a result, our gut becomes an acidic environment. This type of atmosphere lends itself to the production of inflammation. Inflammation is known as the root of almost every disease, including mental health disorders.
Studies confirm that the end of our brain stem has tiny neural tissues connected to the vagus nerve. When acidic vapors in a gut tantalize these tissues, it creates an adverse reaction. Your body’s instinct? Create cortisol!
Get your stress under control by getting your diet under control. Make sure your meals are balanced with whole foods of assorted colors. That way, you are receiving as many micronutrients as possible. Getting an array of beneficial vitamins and minerals in your diet might be the catalysts necessary for your body to produce more beneficial hormones instead of cortisol.
Also, check the source of fats you are ingesting. You want lean protein processed with as little hormones and additives as possible.
Lastly, consume complex carbs. These are indigestible to our system, but they’re fibers that probiotic bacteria like to eat. You want as diverse a pool of probiotic bacteria in your stomach as possible. Studies show that these little bugs are crucial for the production of serotonin.
Complex carbs are also necessary to tip the pH balance of your gut toward the healthier side of the scale. By propping up the probiotics in your stomach, your vagus nerve will interpret the situation going on inside of your microbiome differently. Consequently, you will experience less intense symptoms that are typically associated with stress, depression, and anxiety.
5. Use All-Natural Supplements
This last tip may be the most important. Just like our children, we know ourselves all too well. Sometimes, we need to go the extra mile to set ourselves up for success. A simple step toward that direction is to take supplements.
Supplements aren’t cure-alls. As the name implies, these co-pilots help guide you through life. When you are aware of issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, you can tailor supplements to match those needs.
In cases of depression, you want an all-natural supplement that will help facilitate amino acids, hormones, and neurotransmitters that deplete cortisol levels. A great supplement to address these concerns is Focusene.
Focusene is formulated with organic compounds that our body knows how to break down efficiently. Together, these compounds work in harmony to help alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety. One of the ways Focusene achieves this is with L-Theanine.
This potent amino acid has shown to help the body produce dopamine. With increased dopamine levels, we should experience bliss and effectively thwart off the growth of cortisol.
Additionally, Focusene contains Acetyl-L-Carnitine. This amino acid has shown promise in improving mood and cognitive function. These qualities make Focusene a great tool to not only battle anxiety but strengthen your attention span during work time hours.
For parents combating depression, take a breath. Stressors are always going to rear their head. You need to get ahead of the cortisol production. Achieve this by supplementing with Tranquilene.
Tranquilene is formulated with neurotransmitters that we produce on our own, such as GABA. GABA is the powerful inhibitory hormone in our system and is known for producing endorphins. Also, Tranquilene contains tryptophan, which our body uses as a catalyst to facilitate serotonin. For the body to see this transformation through successfully, it needs a vitamin that many of us are deficient in – vitamin D. That’s why Tranquilene also has vitamin D in its formula.
To help foster balance throughout the system, you’re going to need a good night’s sleep. Shut-eye time is the only time of the day where our bodies can take care of itself. Unfortunately, parents with high levels of stress can’t always get in that valuable REM sleep. All that tossing and turning is much in thanks to cortisol production.
Balance out your hormones with an all-natural supplement such as Sleep Fast. Sleep Fast carries the ever-important hormone, melatonin. Melatonin will help trigger our body’s circadian rhythm and subsequently lower cortisol levels in the process.
So your body can feel relaxed around bedtime, Sleep Fast uses organic herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, and valerian root. Rounding out the supplement, Sleep Fast also contains 5-HTP. This compound is the precursor to serotonin and works in unison with the other active ingredients to melt stress away … and melt your body into the bed.
Don’t Be Anxious, Stressed, or Depressed as a Parent
The weight of the world may feel like it’s on your shoulders, but it’s just a facade. While life has its ups and downs, there’s no reason to dwell in the downtick. Set an example for your child that you can be proud of by reclaiming your mental clarity.
Remember, you are not alone. Reconnect with the person you are deep inside. Make changes to your lifestyle, including diet and exercise. Lastly, incorporate all-natural supplements into your routine. You’ll be feeling like the person you were before you had children in no time.
What are your favorite ways to cope with stress as a parent? Let us know in the comments below!