Note: This post has been contributed.
Becoming a parent, in many ways, is the shortcut to making you a better person. There's nothing more humbling and downright scary than being responsible for someone else in every aspect of their life. Naturally, this can pave the way for a lot of anxiety. While there's a lot of talk about postpartum depression in mothers, it happens in fathers as well. And when stress and anxiety rear its head, which is on a very regular basis, are there any simple things that we can do to keep a lid on this so we can be better parents?
It's All About The Practice
We have to practice being calm. This can be quite difficult to achieve if we are forever wound up. This means that you need to focus on the quality of mental downtime. When we are stressed and fit to explode this heightened state can deplete us of energy that is better used in other aspects of our lives. But when you don't know where to begin, this can prove to be a difficult road to embark on. The best approach for anybody that's looking to be calmer is to switch off your fight-or-flight. You can do this easily, but it does take a lot of practice. There's a lot of talk about mindfulness and meditation these days. But the best place to begin is to practice our breathing. A lot of us, when we are stressed, tend to shallow breathe. By focusing on our breath and breathing deeper, ensuring that our diaphragm fills up as well as our lungs, and doing this whenever we have a spare 20 seconds throughout the day, we can slowly take control over our state.
Don't Over-Rely On Stimulants
You wake up in the morning and you need that first coffee. You feel that you can't do anything without it. But what we tend to do, if we feel that we've had a particularly bad night, is over-rely on these stimulants. We may have a second or third cup, and depending on our own individual tolerance to caffeine, this might tip you over the edge. It's about finding that veritable sweet spot when it comes to caffeine. It's always best, after your first coffee, to wait at least 20 minutes for it to enter your system. Remember, caffeine stays in our bodies for at least 12 hours, so if you have a cup of coffee at 2 pm, it's still going to be in your system in the middle of the night!
Remember, You're Not Alone
Maybe you don't sleep, or life is just getting on top of you, and you feel like you never have a moment to yourself. You're not alone. And if you are spending a lot of time to yourself, there are some excellent resources out there, even in podcast form, that can help. Abiding Fathers have a podcast for fathers that are looking to fine-tune themselves. And when we feel these peaks and troughs of emotion, the most humbling thing that we can do for ourselves is realize that we're not in it alone. There is no need for us to feel like we've got to push through because this is what will help us. Support, especially for fathers and men who aren't particularly keen on discussing their emotions, is out there in abundance! When you feel stressed, remember, this is a normal sensation.