Bree Tapper is an experienced psychologist who works with busy parents in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Parents live busy lives, balancing caring for our little ones with other unavoidable tasks such as work, housework, pickups, drop offs, social events and our own intimate relationship. But when does busy become too much? How do you know when what you’re feeling is more than ‘normal’ and could in fact be more than just stress and turn to anxiety?
To begin with, anxiety is an important human function. Without anxiety we would never work up the initiative to do things, we would never be cautious about trying something new (or dangerous), and we would never have survived all the big beasty threats that were there to catch us back when we were cave women. Anxiety has become a buzz word in popular culture, but from a professional standpoint, anxiety becomes problematic when it starts to interfere with your ability to get on with life like you used to.
When I treat someone for anxiety, they often tell me they feel overwhelmed and on edge. They tell me they are constantly worrying, that they have trouble sleeping because their minds are racing at night (some people even wake during the night and experience this too). Often, people tell me they have trouble sleeping or switching off and that they often feel annoyed at everyone. If this sounds like you, there are a few simple things you can examine in your life to see if they might be contributing.
It is important to check in with yourself and see if there is anything you are doing which could be making you feel worse. Some of us forget that our bodies and our mind are connected, and often what we put in our bodies is having the biggest impact on how we feel. How often are you checking your child’s wellbeing? Are they eating vegetables? Are they drinking enough water? When did they last go number two? Have they been outside today? Have I been making sure they aren’t having too much screen time? When was the last time you asked yourself these questions? Could a simple check of how you are taking care of yourself have a big impact of how you feel? How much caffeine, alcohol or other drugs are you having? Some people are surprised at the impact of their daily coffee intake!
When was the last time you took some time for yourself? Having children can really disrupt your sense of self and it’s not uncommon for parents to forgot who they are and not have time for themselves. A lot of people report feeling guilty about taking time for themselves, but it’s so important to make sure that you make time for yourself, as it sets an example to your kids that it’s healthy to have time to yourself doing things you enjoy.
When was the last time you asked for some help? Was it from your parents/in-laws/partner? I often find that people who are experiencing anxiety have anxiety about speaking up and asking for help. They worry about the response others may have when they ask or maybe they lack the skills to speak up and just really don’t know how. Speaking to a psychologist can often raise these same feelings, but rest assured, we are here to help you navigate your way to feeling better, without judgement about how you are currently managing!
If you have read through this an you are feeling overwhelmed, thinking about all the things you need to do to make yourself feel better, you may benefit from having a professional to talk to, to help you work through what’s best for you. Even if you aren’t sure if you are feeling overwhelmed and you are unsure if you need any help, it is worth coming to see a psychologist and they can help you work out a plan. The first step if things aren’t going well for you is to talk to your doctor and they can help with the process. Your doctor may recommend a psychologist they usually refer to but you can also choose the psychologist you want to see and ask your doctor for a referral so you can access Medicare rebates for your treatment.
The link below allows you to search for a psychologist (within Australia) by area, issue or treatment type easily.