As I sat in the passenger seat of our vehicle, I clutched my seatbelt tightly. I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping for air, yet the air didn’t seem to enter my lungs. The heaviness on my chest was suffocating. I just knew we were going to careen off the mountain road. I couldn’t breathe and the tears began to flow. This was an anxiety attack, and I couldn’t stop it.
In reality, we were perfectly safe. My husband was driving below the speed limit as we made our way to Cherokee National Forest. The two-lane road was narrow, but two vehicles could still easily pass each other. But anxiety doesn’t care about the facts.
Anxiety isn’t always the feeling of impending death, such as with the mountain road. Sometimes I’m terrified but act as though everything is fine. Other times I’m agitated, but I manage. Anxiety can hit me at any time. One minute I’m sitting peacefully at the kitchen table, and the next, it is like my brain is a computer, and suddenly the browser opens tabs of worry on its own.
Anxious Thought Train
What if the children don’t pass their Taekwondo belt testing.
I didn’t make them practice enough.
I’m failing them as a homeschool mom.
We’re not getting out enough.
We need to have more interests.
Where is my car’s title?
What If I need to sell my car and can’t find the title!
Did I remember to put the laundry in the dryer?
I need to spend more one-on-one time with my daughter.
I’ve got to focus more on my son’s high school electives.
Oh, gosh, I need to pay the credit card bill!
And then the tears start to flow.
I can’t breathe.
The heaviness settles on my chest, and I try to block out the string of ongoing thoughts that won’t leave me alone. The constant “what if’s” that enter my mind are exhausting.
Anxiety and the Homeschool Mom
It wasn’t until I started therapy for my depression that I realized that I’ve been battling anxiety since I was a child. Chewing on my lips and picking at my skin until sores appeared were signs that no one saw. A childhood filled with trauma will give you unhealthy coping mechanisms, and anxiety presents itself in many ways.
- I obsess over tiny details.
- Over-apologizing and feeling guilty
- Imposter Syndrome plagues me with everything I do
- Constantly seeking reassurance
- People-pleasing is my norm
- Can’t sleep
- Constant worrying over every single thing
- Having a million scenarios in my head of what could go wrong
- I get irritable and frustrated easily
Strategies to Cope with Anxiety
My anxiety isn’t centered around just homeschooling; my fear can pop up over the tiniest thing. However, there are steps I’m taking to help ease my anxiety:
- Therapy has helped tremendously
- Medication when the thoughts spiral out of control
- Writing in my gratitude journal every day
- Getting plenty of sunlight each day
- Talk about your anxiety with your support system
When I’m in the midst of an anxiety attack, I focus on taking deep, slow breaths. Then, I focus on the 5–4-3-2-1 method.
- 5 things I can see
- 4 things I can hear
- 3 things I can touch
- 2 things I can smell
- 1 thing I can taste
Above all, I try to remember that it WILL pass. I am OK.
Homeschooling with Anxiety
As a homeschooling mom with anxiety, it can be difficult, and I’ve had to learn my triggers and the different coping strategies.
Winding mountain roads is a trigger for me.
Homeschool mom self-care is of vital importance. I’ve talked with my kids about my anxiety. They know that they did nothing to cause it. But sometimes I need to schedule extra breaks throughout the day, so this anxious mom can practice her breathing techniques or sit in a quiet space.
For my most challenging days, I turn to homeschooling helps like:
- Chalk pastels
- Audio books
- Outdoor time
Being a mom is hard, and being a mom with anxiety is even harder. I’m working to overcome my anxiety. It’s OK to take it easy on the hard days and model self-advocacy and self-care for our children. Take care of yourself and do what works best for you and your children.
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Kathleen Bailey says
Great post. I suffer from Bipolar which includes anxiety. My kids have anxiety too. It sucks.
Erin Vincent says
Thank you! Same and so true! Unlike in my childhood, I’m trying to be open and honest with my children about the challenges I face. Hopefully, they won’t have to face them too, but only time will tell.