Dear Inner health studio,
How do I stop myself from thinking that if I don't worry and try to relax that I must not be caring enough for my family?
I feel like I must have to worry, that's my job as a Mother isn't it?
Also, what busy Mom has time to relax anyways? It is more important to take care of my family than it is to worry about myself.
From the Martyr
You probably think I'm going to tell you not to worry so much, and list some ways to keep from worrying. But... I'm not. If you believe that your job as a mom is to worry, then perhaps continuing to worry is the best thing to do. You obviously care about your family and worrying is one of the ways you show that caring.
Now, it sounds like the worrying is causing you more distress than you are comfortable with. What I am going to discuss is how to worry in the most productive way possible.
How much time in a day must a person spend worrying in order to be a good mom?
How much time in a day do you spend worrying? If you add up all the actual worry time, how much would it be? It probably feels like you worry every minute of the day, but no one worries for absolutely every minute of the day. We spend at least some time thinking about other things. If you worry for 10 seconds 100 times per hour, that would be 1000 seconds, or just under 17 minutes worrying in that hour. Estimate how much time total you spend worrying in a typical day. Now let's say you worry for a total of 5 hours in a day. [I'm estimating high here, because typically the total time a person spends worrying, even if that person is very anxious, is probably somewhat less.] Is that 5 hours of worrying spread out over the whole day, or broken into larger chunks? If the worrying is spread out over the whole day, is that really an efficient way to worry? If you're showing your caring as a mom by worrying, then you need to do the very best job of worrying you can do. And worrying inefficiently in spurts throughout the day is not very effective. If you have a job to do, and you spend spurts of a few seconds or minutes at a time working at it, do you get much done? NO. You work for concentrated periods of time and take breaks in between. Right? And since worrying is one of your jobs, as you have identified it, let's approach worrying the same way as you would approach any other job. And do it well!
Think of all the jobs you have as a mom. Worrying, spending time with kids, teaching kids, keeping house, taking care of yourself, and all your other jobs of living. Choose how many hours need to be devoted to the task of worrying. And think EFFICIENCY. You have other things to accomplish too.
If you spend the theoretical number of 5 hours per day worrying, what is the most efficient breakdown of that time? When thoughts come up at times when you are doing your other jobs of living, you can write them down or push them aside - and schedule them in later for your planned worry time.
When it is time to worry, do the best job of worrying you can do! Worry all you want to! Worry all you can! And when the time is up, get on to your next task.
Using this time management strategy will allow you to do a good job of worrying, and allow you to schedule in other things too. You then have control of the worry, rather than being controlled by worry. You don't have to give up this aspect of showing your caring for your family, but you can keep the worrying somewhat under control. That's the best of both worlds! ... And another advantage with having the worrying more under control is that you will probably find some time to relax too!
Just remember - how much time do you need to spend worrying in order to be a good mom? If you find that you are spending more time than this worrying, or are not able to contain the worrying to your worry schedule, you may decide that some changes are in order. There are many, many techniques you can use to decrease worrying, and if you're interested in hearing about these, please write me again. Or you can do some reading on your own, of course, and I recommend "When Panic Attacks" by David Burns.
Comments? Advice? Tips? What are your thoughts on the problem "the Martyr" described? Contact me at advice at innerhealthstudio.com to contribute your ideas.
Next time on ASK INNER HEALTH STUDIO we will talk about sleep difficulties, circadian rhythms, and relaxation.