As a new parent you may feel assailed by worries that a few months before might not have occurred to you. Cool as a cucumber pre-children, you are reduced to a jangle of nerves and fears at the thought of leaving the house (traffic! accidents!) or seeing friends (infectious diseases!).
The likelihood is that these worries flit into your consciousness on a fairly regular basis when you first have a child. It is a natural reaction to a massive life event, and helps you to integrate the new responsibilities that you have, with your usual life and routine. Mention them to any other new parent and you will soon find yourself bonding - with laughter - over the irrational anxieties that make up new parenthood.
However, if you're convinced that these are likely events, and the anxiety stops you from living your life the way that you would like, it may be time to seek help. However fearful you may be of voicing what you have been experiencing, rest assured that asking for help is a sign of strength - looking after yourself is vital for your family.
This week sees Mental Health Awareness Week, with an invitation to become Anxiety Aware.
Here are 5 tips from the experts on managing the thoughts or physical symptoms, which might help you to live with anxiety.
1. Start the conversation. Discuss how you feel with someone you trust - GP, partner or close friend. Sometimes just having the conversation can help you feel less alone and give you the support that you need to get back on track. On line forums such as Headcase, started by writer and journalist Liz Fraser to share people's experience of "head wobbles", can help you to make sense of what you are experiencing.
2. Look after yourself. Eating well and getting regular exercise can help with your physical and mental wellbeing. Avoiding caffeine and sugar will cut out "rushes" and then "lows" afterwards, and can help contribute to a good night's sleep. Exercising regularly can give you a sense of wellbeing as physical activity releases helpful, positive brain chemicals. Getting into shape can be a helpful boost to your self esteem as well.
3. Meditation, mindfulness and yoga. The organisations that back Mental Health Awareness Week, counsel giving your mind space to be calm and still. Using meditation or mindfulness (being alive in the moment) and yoga (a blend of physical movement and meditation) gives you an outlet to find a quiet space to relax and approach your daily life with renewed energy or strength.
4. Know your limits. If you are experiencing chronic or acute anxiety episodes, think carefully about how far you extend yourself as a parent. If friends or family are leaning on you too much, leaving you no time for yourself or your own children, consider how you can gently let go of some of those burdens. If you keep a record of what triggers your anxiety and you can identify the worst triggers, then you can avoid those situations until you are better equipped to deal with them.
5. Get help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be immensely helpful - giving you the tools to rationalize and control a lot of what it happening to you. CBT can be delivered in many different ways, in person with an individual therapist or online via new resources such as Thinkwell, run by PsychologyOnline.