Combating Worry: A Guide for Parents

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” -  Leo F. Buscaglia

Many parents describe feeling overwhelmed with a sense of worry. Left unchecked this can lead to sleep disturbance, depression, lack of focus, health and relationship problems and seriously affect your bonding with your child.

Worry is an emotional state marked by getting caught up in negative thinking, leading to a harmful increase in arousal of the brain and body. There are many things that parents worry about. You may worry about your child’s future, health, friendships, and education. And then add in some worries like: “am I a good parent?”, “is there enough money?” or “will I ever have a tidy house, ever again?” … the list is endless.

Combatting parental worry

  1. Stay Healthy. A healthy brain worries less. Eat well, drink water, exercise regularly, sleep well and have some fun! Try meditation or gratitude journalling to calm a worried mind. See your doctor if your worrying is interfering with your daily life.
  2. Create certainty. Life as a parent is filled with uncertainty. When you notice that you are worrying about something, STOP. Ask yourself “is there anything that I can do about this now?” If the answer is “yes”, then take action. If the answer is “no” then worrying about it is creating unnecessary suffering. Distract your mind: play some music, watch a show or call your best friend for a chat.
  3. Work on your self-esteem and confidence. Being a parent can at times be a thankless task. The solution to this is to devise projects that will make you feel good about yourself. Set yourself small, achievable goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.
  4. Connect with others. You may be an expert at reading Dr. Seuss, but you also need to be able to talk to grown-ups. Consider joining a parent group or seize every opportunity to spend time with good friends. A problem shared is a problem halved.
  5. Avoid boredom. Boredom leaves way too much time for worry. Plan regular activities that are fun, interesting or exciting for YOU. Not only will this avoid boredom but also avoid you becoming boring: it’s always good to have an interesting story to share.
  6. Contribute beyond yourself. There is no better cure for worry than helping out others in greater need than you. Reach out to a friend who is depressed or volunteer for a community project. Not only do you help yourself but you help others too, it really is win-win!

Nighttime worry

A common time for worry to rear its head is at night. It might stop you going to sleep or wake you up in the early hours. If this happens to you follow the advice above during the day and when you are worrying at night distract your mind: listen to an audiobook or meditation or try and recall your favorite movie or book in vivid detail.

Important note

if you have significant or prolonged symptoms of stress or mood changes, it is essential that inform your doctor.