Modern motherhood is a breeding ground for anxiety. From the comparison trap to societal pressures to work life balance to maintaining your marriage along the way—motherhood is sink or swim. For that reason, it’s not a surprise that so many moms experience anxiety.
In this episode, you’ll learn how to solve mom anxiety (spoiler: it’s not what you think), so you can show up as the mom you want to be (with more joy, connection, and fulfillment).
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about helping moms live their best lives. My hope with this podcast is you’re more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog lover, Chicagoan and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.
How y’all doing? Welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to be here today. I’m here with Henry. I am wearing Henry. So, if you hear any baby noises as I record this, that is what’s going on. I was just thinking about how I’m the childcare for our two little boys and how much I love that and how I want to keep it that way when they’re this little. It is just not lost on me how precious this time is and I don’t think that it’s the right way.
I just think it’s the best way for me and my family. So I’m here with you with Henry because Steve is out with Robert and I thought, I wanna get this podcast done and we’re gonna just do it together. So I hope that you are getting to spend some quality time with your family and even if it’s a hard season or challenging season, just getting a minute, at least once a day, to just appreciate and soak up all of the goodness that is motherhood. I’m looking at Henry right now and his eyes are just like wide-eyed and his mouth is open and his head is back ’cause he’s like a little tired and I’m wearing him and he’s on my chest and um, it’s just a perfect experience and I am so grateful for it and it just makes me smile with joy for this entire season of life that I’m in right now.
I know that it won’t be here forever and just soaking it all up and that is not at all what we’re gonna talk about today. I wanna talk with you about mom anxiety, which is also a part of motherhood and I have some tools and resources that can absolutely help you if you are struggling with anxiety. Before we dive into that, I wanna make sure you are registered and joining me for a new workshop I’m hosting, I’ve never done a marriage workshop before and I’ve been really passionate about marriage lately. So I am hosting a new workshop. It is happening on November 13th, so in just under two weeks you can get all of the details over at nataliebacon.com/secrets and you have to register and then you can come live and join me live and I will coach you and teach you and help you with whatever’s going on in your marriage. If you can’t make it live, there will be a replay. So make sure you grab your seat and I will see you there.
Alright, let’s dive into mom. Anxiety. A huge problem in motherhood is the pervasive anxiety that so many moms experience. And I really wanna set the record straight about anxiety because there are so many misconceptions. The first is that anxiety is bad. We’re gonna talk about why this is a myth. Number two is that it’s strictly a medical issue, just not true. And number three is that it’s best resolved with therapy and or medication also not true. Now I don’t pretend to have the one and only solution for a lot of people medication or going to therapy is the solution. So it’s not that these things don’t work, it’s just that I find that what’s been kind of popularized is that that is the only way.
Either you don’t have anxiety or if you have it you should go to a therapist or you should get on medication. And I think that is kind of black or white thinking and it’s not reality. I think that it completely disregards the cause of anxiety and how anxiety can be decreased and managed and you can feel freedom from anxiety by using coaching. It is life changing. Why is it so life changing? Because it helps you get at the cause of anxiety, which is your thoughts. We’ll talk more about that. But I do wanna say that there is a distinction between regular anxiety that all healthy humans feel and generalized anxiety disorder, which is something that is diagnosable. It’s a mental health condition and that is different. I am not talking to the person who has generalized anxiety disorder, although if you do have it and you want additional tools for you that this can be helpful in addition to seeking professional and or medical health.
Hi baby. You hear Mr. Henry there I don’t know if you can hear him, but he’s making these cute little coos. Um, this podcast is specifically for the woman, the mom who feels typical normal day in and day out anxiety as part of having a healthy human brain. Now you may be wondering why if anxiety is such a buzzword right now and we all talk about how to get rid of anxiety or how to treat anxiety, why is it so normal? Well, I’m going to tell you why. It is actually because of your brain and all of our brains. The human brain is designed for survival that’s quite obviously useful. It ensures that our species survives. Think about how it does that in terms of responding to threats. It’s useful if your brain perceives a potential threat that it triggers fight, flight, freeze or fawn.
It’s really useful for your nervous system to get activated by a perceived threat or stressor. This is where anxiety comes into play. When your brain perceives some uncertainty, some unknown about the future, it prepares your body for an activated response. Said differently you feel anxious whenever your brain perceives a threat or a stressor, something uncertain. Typically it’s about the future. This is normal. Can we just pause here for a second? Like, I don’t know anyone in my daily life who would describe anxiety in this way as just being a normal part of the human experience. And yet that’s exactly what it is. Like you don’t have to listen to the rest of this podcast at all to really have your life changed just by what I’ve said so far, normalize anxiety. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t do things to reduce it, to know how to relate to it better, to process it, to breathe through it.
We can do all of those tactics and I’m all for that. But if you’re doing it from the mindset that anxiety is bad and terrible and something that needs to be removed entirely, it is going to create a lot of resistance because it’s arguing with reality. The reality is that we have healthy human brains and that healthy human brain is designed for survival and that means it’s designed to look out for danger. And when it perceives a danger, it has alarm bells going off and that means that you will feel anxious. Everything is working properly. That is to say anxiety is a normal human experience.
Okay, what this means is that anxiety is actually a feeling caused by thoughts in your brain. So if your brain is what’s causing the anxiety, if we just separate out what’s really going on here, anxiety is the feeling. And what’s happening is your brain is the thought. So your brain has a thought like, oh my goodness, this is dangerous. And then it creates the feeling of anxiety, thoughts create feelings. Your brain perceiving this threat creates a thought like, I don’t know what we’re gonna do about this or I’m really worried about this. And then the feeling in your body is anxious. I love coaching myself and coaching my clients to get too clean thinking where we separate all of the thoughts, feelings, and actions because there is so much to be said about being able to empower yourself and change your thoughts when you do it in this sort of simple, methodical way of separating out thoughts, feelings, and actions. So the thought is whatever you’re thinking about the perceived danger or threat and then the feeling is anxiety. It’s just good to know.
The biggest problem that I see with this type of anxiety, that normal, typical daily anxiety that we all experience as humans is lack of awareness. So without understanding what I’m teaching you here and without understanding kind of how to use thought work and coaching to process that anxiety, what it can look like is overprotectiveness. It can look like lack of sleep. It can look like having a lot of guilt or overwhelm or constant worrying, particularly with kids that is then projected onto them. So maybe you start really worrying about your kids’ health or if they’re having feeding challenges or maybe it’s busying and time management or it’s finances or your lack of support, whatever it is that’s going on in your circumstances right now. Maybe it’s your kids’ grades or their friends or screen time or extracurricular activities or school performance. It the brain will attach to whatever circumstance it perceives as uncertain in the future. And if you’re unaware that that’s what’s happening, it’s so much worse than if you were aware.
If you’re aware that that’s what’s happening, it feels familiar. You’re like, oh, this is anxiety, this is what happens when my brain starts to freak out about uncertainties and the unknown. It’s not that big of a deal. You can process the feeling just like after a hard workout and you could have feel your heart racing and it feels uncomfortable. But after a hard workout you’re not really confused and mad that you’re feeling kind of tired and a little bit uncomfortable. You’re like, oh, this is the part where I feel tired and a little bit uncomfortable ’cause I just did a really hard workout. That is what it’s like when you understand how to use these tools to help you navigate anxiety. So what makes anxiety a lot worse is not understanding the root cause of it, not understanding the way that you can process it and work through it.
And then without having those tools in your tool belt, it often ends up leading to even worse symptoms like lack of sleep or perfectionism or even health issues. Um, it can really manifest in ways making kind of your overall health and wellbeing worse. Maybe you like some sweetss, like I like some chocolate. Maybe you’re gonna overeat or over shop or overspend or you know, have an extra glass of wine to take the edge off. It’s all because there’s this lack of awareness of how to process the anxiety and it makes it so, so, so much worse. So I have a question for you my friend. Have you ever paused and really gone into your body to feel anxiety? You may be wondering what I mean by this. And that is a fair question because your brain won’t want to do this on default. It will want to stay in your head and ruminate.
The brain thinks it’s really useful. I call it indulgent thinking. If you’re in Grow You, you know this. I’m like, I think that’s an indulgent thought. I don’t think that’s actually how anxiety feels. And what I mean is that the brain is kind of sneaky. It will pretend that it’s going into the body to feel the feeling, but in actuality it’s just saying in your mind and focusing on additional thoughts. So anxiety is something that you can go into your body and feel and breathe through and notice how it genuinely feels inside each and every part of your body, in your jaw, in your chest, in your stomach, in your shoulders, in your face. Where do you feel anxiety? How does it feel? The thoughts that will likely come to mind at first will be the thoughts about the thing. So if you feel really anxious about your child’s school performance and a big test that they have upcoming and kind of a lot of things going on with them, your brain is going to want to come up with more thoughts related to that.
If you could just talk to the teacher, if you could just figure out what’s going on with them, if they would just open up and your brain will kind of thought loop about things outside of your control, that is the indulgent thinking where it’s focused on things you can’t control, trying to solve for problems that maybe aren’t even problems yet. Instead, feeling anxiety doesn’t do any of that. Feeling anxiety is a way of processing emotion. It sounds kind of woo or weird because it’s not something we’re taught, but it’s actually very simple. It’s just like a breathing exercise where you focus your brain to the characteristics of the feeling in your body. And the more you do this, I promise, the better you get at it. And then you can do this for any emotion. So practically speaking, instead of grabbing a glass of wine after work because you feel so stressed, you lay on the couch and you process the stress.
Now you do not have to have time to lay on a couch and process the feeling. You can absolutely process the feeling while you’re at work or while you’re making dinner for your kids. It is more of an intention and a process than it is something you have to do all by yourself and make time for. ’cause if you’re like me, you got little ones all around. So there’s not always that space to easily make and something like anxiety where you can’t just turn it off because you have a healthy human brain. I can’t say that enough. Your healthy human brain is designed to perceive threats and danger. And when it does that it triggers thoughts that create anxiety. So normalizing that is just such a huge part of feeling free from anxiety. It’s not that we get rid of it, it’s that we normalize it and learn how to process it.
So as I sort of stated in the beginning, if you have generalized anxiety disorder or any other condition that is best treatable from a medical professional, I am pro, whatever works. What I see and what has been my experience is that so often there is a recommendation for medication or therapy or nothing. It’s like that all or nothing. And instead, I really wanna make sure that you know, one of the best solutions for mom anxiety, for managing anxiety is coaching. Why? Because it helps you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that can contribute to anxiety. I’m a trained causal coach, which means I am trained in identifying the mindset, the thoughts that are creating your feelings. And I know I can help you identify your thoughts that are creating the anxiety so that you’re aware of them so that you can process the anxiety and so that you can change them to the extent that you want to.
I’m also trained as an emotions coach and can help you get grounded and process emotions including anxiety. So if you are already feeling the anxiety, I help you go through a process to feel through it. Now I am certified and I am a huge proponent of my program Grow You, which obviously I’m biased. So I just wanna say that if I’m not your coach, that’s okay. Get another coach. If you like this podcast, there’s a good chance that I would be a great coach for you Come to Grow, You try it out, you have nothing to lose. But even though I’m not your coach, get a good coach. The more that I coach myself, the more that I coach my clients, the more that I do this work, the more I see my life change in the most amazing ways. I truly cannot imagine ever living without a coach.
It is my number one priority because it impacts my mental and emotional wellbeing. It impacts whether I get physical activity, whether I’m eating healthy, whether I’m sleeping enough, whether I’m drinking or not drinking. Y’all know I haven’t drank in, I think it’s four years now. Crazy. Without coaching, I never would’ve come to that decision and never felt empowered to remake that decision if I want to. And so it’s so much more than anxiety. But I do want you to know that if you have anxiety that is the kind of quote unquote normal anxiety that you want help with, either come to Grow You or come to a program where there is a causal coach who can help you work through that anxiety. It’s like the analogy of driving in a car. You want the anxiety in the backseat, not in the driver’s seat. So you still have a primitive brain.
I cannot take that away for you and you wouldn’t want me to. When there’s a real threat, you want to feel anxious. It’s just that in our modern world, in mom life, 99% of the time it’s not a real threat to our survival. It’s our kids struggling in school or with friends or, um, one of the neighbor moms said something that made us really worried because our brain perceived it as a threat. These are not actual dangers or threats to our survival in the way that our brain thinks that they are. And so being able to redirect your brain with your prefrontal cortex and use mindset coaching to coach yourself and to get coached is life changing. It will help you kind of change those negative thought patterns. It will help you process anxiety and it will help you decide how you want to move forward with respect to any decision that is being made for the thing that your brain is worried about.
So for example, if you’re feeling really anxious about whether to pull your child from the school that they’re in and you’re kind of worried about what’s to come and you’re not really sure, doing this work can help you process the feeling and get really clear about what decisions need to be made and how to make that best decision for you regardless of any uncertainties in the future that you can’t yet know. Because remember, anxiety loves to um, grow when there is some uncertainty in the future, something that’s unpredictable. And can we just say and pause for a minute that there are so many uncertainties in mom life because our kids are growing and constantly changing. I remember with Robert in the first year just how much I realized this and I hadn’t before. Like every single time you figure something out, there’s just the next thing and the next thing.
And I’m like, oh, this is just the name of the game. It’s gonna be like this forever. And my clients, those of you listening who are empty nesters, you know this and you know that it doesn’t end even when your kids are adults. Am I right? I’ve coached a lot of you with older kids and it doesn’t end and that’s okay. I think that’s one of the gifts of being a mom and of motherhood, is that there is so much opportunity to grow and evolve because it doesn’t relent. Our kids continue to grow and make decisions and lead their own lives, which of course to mama bear, that’s sometimes going to trigger anxiety and that’s normal. It doesn’t mean your kids are doing anything wrong. It doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. It just might mean that you have a healthy human brain.
So don’t beat yourself up. Normalize anxiety, call it what it is. This is fear plus uncertainty about the future. Ask yourself what the specific thought is that’s creating the anxiety. Normalize that anxiety process, the feeling by going inward and allowing it and breathing through it and describing it and then out of the moment work on your thoughts so that anxiety is in the backseat, is not in the driver’s seat. I have completely changed my relationship with anxiety and it is life changing. It hasn’t removed the anxiety. Remember, I can’t remove my primitive brain, but I can have it in the backseat. And that’s exactly what has happened. So my prefrontal brain is in charge. I’m like, I see you there. Anxiety, it’s fine. You can be there. And then I make decisions from a clear mind. I talk to myself more than I listen to myself.
Have you heard that quote before? So good. Talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself. Use that prefrontal brain to talk back to your anxiety. Don’t dismiss it, allow it and then be in charge. It’s sort of like the toddler and the parent. You’re not gonna dismiss your toddler, you’re not gonna disrespect it. You’re not gonna tell it to go away, but you’re also not gonna let the toddler drive the car, right? In the same way you’re going to respect and allow the anxiety to be there in your body, but you’re gonna be in charge because that’s what’s best for your current and future self. So my friend, if you are experiencing anxiety, you are not alone and nothing has gone wrong, come join me so you can experience coaching and see how it can change those negative thought patterns. Your life will never be the same. Alright my friend. I will talk with you next week. Take care.
Thank you for being here and listening Now head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more about Grow You, my membership for moms, where we take all of this work to the next level.