I suffer from an extreme anxiety disorder. It’s not the kind of anxiety that makes me depressed or worrisome though. Instead its the kind that makes me annoyed with everyone and everything over the littlest things. My anxiety attacks aren’t hard to breathe moments where you find me rocking back and forth in the fetal position bawling my eyes out from worry. Instead its extreme irritability and anger, racing heart, and picking up about 10 projects more than I know I can handle because I think I’m a work-a-holic.
Sometimes the irritability is so bad I lash out at others. Sometimes even the shirt I’m wearing annoys me enough to send me over the edge! When I was a teenager, I can’t tell you how many hairbrushes I broke out of irritable rage when my hair wasn’t working right.
It’s a truly awful thing to experience – especially the headaches and tiredness that comes with your body constantly in over-drive. I’ve learned to cope with it more and more over the years, and luckily today it’s pretty manageable for the most part (and I’m no longer breaking hairbrushes! Yay for less rage!)
Homeschooling with this kind of anxiety can be impossible, unless you know what your triggers are and how to keep the anxiety in check. Today I’m going to talk to you about some of the things I do to try to keep it all under control.
10 Tips to Help You Eliminate Stress and Anxiety
Have a Weekly Plan
I am a total “figure it out as we go” kind of gal, but lately that approach just wasn’t working for me. I would wake up in the morning to hyper kids, and no idea what I was doing for the day. Then when I finally put together an idea for that days lesson plan, I still had to prepare the actual lesson plan itself. By time I got it all figured out, I was beyond stressed and the day was halfway over! I was not utilizing my time very well at all and I was really seeing how that took a toll on me. So I created a plan and now the only planning I do for the week is on Sundays! I can’t even begin to describe how much peace this one step alone has brought into my life. If you don’t have your week planned out in advance, I highly recommend giving it a try for a month and see how it changes your life!
Minimize Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine turns me into an all-out crazy person. When I was growing up I used to drink soda like it was going out of style. I could easily put back two 64 ounce fountain soda’s from the local gas station a day. To make things worse, my caffeinated drug of choice was Code Red Mountain Dew, which is basically the worst kind. About three years ago I completely gave up soda, and up until the past year I was completely caffeine free during that time. A year ago I started drinking coffee again and I realized just how much my anxiety got out of control once I started. I decided to switch to the half-caff or even decaff on really hard days and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my irritability. For me I had to find the perfect balance: enough caffeine to help me function, but not so much to where I was flying off the handles all day.
Separate the Kids
My kids love to goof off together. I love that they get along so well, but when I’m trying to get them to focus on their school work and be productive, the goofiness just doesn’t fly. I got tired of the kids distracting each other by playing or sometimes even fighting over silly things, so I decided this year to start separating them for part of the day. The family computer is stored in my bedroom, so when one kid is doing their bookwork in the livingroom or kitchen, the other is in the bedroom working on their computer work. When they finish, they switch. That gives me a good 2 or 3 hours of time where they aren’t driving each other, or me, crazy.
Give the Toddler an iPad
Yep. I do this and have no shame with it. We put educational apps on the iPad, give it to my 4 year old, and she tucks herself in her room for hours if I let her without a peep out of her. I try to limit the iPad time as much as possible, but someday’s when the older girls need a lot of my time and attention, it helps me to keep the youngest occupied this way with few interruptions. She’s also very good about following my rules so if I tell her she can only play the educational games (which are saved in their own folder), I know that she will.
Please tell me I’m not the only one out there who absolutely despises the obnoxious music that childrens games have playing in the background? Plus, the sound effects! It’s so annoying, and even more importantly, so distracting! I can try to convince my kids to go into the room to play these games, but sometimes they just want to feel like they’re included with everyone else. When they’re really wanting to be out with everyone else, I tell them they have to use their headphones. This keeps both kid and mom happy. They get their obnoxious game noises, and I get my quiet!
Carry a Notebook and Mind Dump
When I’m having anxiety issues, my mind is going a mile a minute. When my mind is going a mile a minute, I tend to be forgetful and important tasks get forgotten. I’ve started to carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. Anytime I have a thought that I know I will need to remember – I scribble it into my notebook! Then, I can forget about it and clear my mind from as much chaos as possible. I call this “mind dumping”. Then when I get a free minute to breathe and think again, I can read through my notes and be reminded of what tasks I need to do. I even put it next to my bed while I’m sleeping, because you know how it is. As soon as you start to go to sleep your mind decides to start trying to figure out all the problems of the world. With my notebook there, I can write down what I’m thinking about, and forget about it until the next morning.
Have a Bed-Time Routine That Includes Cleaning
I’ve shared all about my bedtime routine before. I can’t even begin to tell you how having this routine has completely changed my life. I make sure that everything is clean before I go to bed. I even enlist the husband and kids to do their part as well. Waking up to a clean house sets my mind at ease so that I can start my morning without that immediate irritation of waking to a messy house!
Wake Up Before Everyone Else
I was never a morning person, ever. In fact, I was so opposite of a morning person that my children nicknamed me “the dragon” in the mornings. I was a straight up monster when I had to wake up. There’s nothing worse than hating the fact that you have to wake up, and once you wake up in a bad mood, your whole day is shot. I started hearing all of these mom’s talking about how much more pleasant they felt and more productive they were when they woke up before their kids, so I decided to try it myself. The difference was like night and day! When I get up in the morning my coffee is already brewed, the house is silent, and I can ease into my mornings without having three kids hanging off of me or talking about Digimon or asking for the iPad before I’ve even had a chance to open my eyes. Once I started and noticed the difference in how I felt everyday, I immediately made it a habit. Now when I don’t wake up before my kids, I can see just how frazzled I feel by lunch time. This was such an eye opening thing for me!
Use Your Slow Cooker Often
Trying to come up with a dinner idea at 4pm around here usually means its going to be either a McDonalds or Mac and Cheese and Hot Dogs for dinner kind of night. Once can only eat so much macaroni (the hubs) so I had to buckle down and start figuring out how to make dinners more manageable after a busy day of school work with the kids. Insert slow cooker, and voila! No more weekly mac and cheese nights! I just throw everything in the crock pot in the morning, turn it on, and then I don’t have to worry about slaving in the kitchen for a home cooked meal when all I want to do is collapse. Slow cookers have saved me in so many ways!
Take Time For Yourself
By the end of the day my nerves are shot and I’m brain fried. I have to take time to just unwind and numb my brain. The best way for me to do this is to turn on the TV, and turn off the computer. If I don’t do this for at least 2 hours after a busy day, I can’t even go to sleep! It’s almost as if my body doesn’t know how to slow itself down. Some people read scriptures everyday or leave the house and go for a drive or something. My “me time” is with my DVR. It’s so important to make time for you
And there you have it! These are the things that help me manage my anxiety and get through my homeschooling days. Do you have any tips or tricks you could share? I’m always trying to figure out the best way to manage my anxiety in a natural way so please comment with any suggestions you might have for me or anyone else who is reading!