As a parent, how can you cope with your own anxiety?

As a parent, how can you cope with your own anxiety?

For the sufferer, anxiety can be all-conquering, consuming your thoughts and mind. Trying to parent while struggling with anxiety is hard and overwhelming. How can you cope while a child needs your attention and care?


– Amongst your busy day as a parent, try and find little moments to yourself to unwind. Perhaps before getting the kids up for school, spend 10 minutes practicing some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or a guided meditation (there are many free ones to try on YouTube).

– Sneak in some exercise. Try going for a jog with the kids round the park, a daily walk with the dog, or a 20 minute yoga session in the evening.

– Prioritise sleep. It can be tempting to stay up til 11 to catch your favourite tv show, but to combat anxiety your body needs rest, and lots of it. Try turning in earlier with a good book.

– Get your nutrients. When anxious it can be easy to resort to comfort food or sugar, but providing your body with a healthy diet helps keep anxiety at bay.

– Carve out time to enjoy yourself. Perhaps try a new hobby, meet up with friends for a coffee, or give a new recipe a whirl. Activities like these bring ‘colour’ to your week and help offset the stressful times.

How to model self-care to children

It can be hard to keep a lid on your feelings when you are struggling with anxiety. You may feel bad for showing your feelings in front of your child, but it’s important not to blame yourself. Instead, aim to model healthy coping strategies, which benefit both of you.

If, for example, your child sees you crying, try saying something like ‘Mummy is feeling stressed today. When I’m stressed I find that going to the park helps’, and take your child out with you.

By verbalising your feelings you’re helping your child tune into their own emotions, and showing them how to find solutions to self-soothe.


A helpful strategy for anxiety is to use self-compassion. This means being kind to ourselves and forgiving ourselves. For example, if you’re feeling anxious and bad for something that went wrong today, talk to yourself as you would a good friend- for example, ‘It’s ok, you’re doing your best, nobody is perfect’. You can also model self-compassion to your children, by showing them how to be kind to themselves and not beat themselves up.

Using self-soothing strategies and self-compassion can help calm anxiety greatly, and are useful skills to teach children to manage their own worries.

When you’re struggling to cope

There is no need to suffer with anxiety alone. Contact your GP in the first instance, and be open and honest about how you feel, so that they can decide the best course of action.

They may offer a prescription for an anti-depressant or other drug that can help, and may put you in touch with a local counselling service who can provide support.

Fegans also offer parenting support and advice- more information is available here.