Becoming a father for the first time is full of joy, but it is also full of stress and a slew of new worries. It is completely natural to worry about your baby and even your parenting style, but anxiety can also be debilitating, preventing you from fully being there for your child. It takes some reflection and conscious effort, but it is entirely possible to cope with anxiety as a new dad.
Recognize what you can and cannot control
It is far too easy for anxiety to get out of hand. One minute you’re worrying about whether your baby’s bottle is the correct temperature, and the next minute you are full of dread about climate change and the world in which your baby will grow up. Stay present, start small, and focus on what you personally can change. Warm up the bottle a little bit extra and revel in this wonderful time in your and your baby’s lives.
Know that there is no weakness in having anxiety
It’s important, to be honest with yourself and your family about the anxiety you are feeling. Anxiety is a natural, and an entirely expected facet of fatherhood that ebbs and flows over time. Admitting that it is there is the first step to getting help dealing with it. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxiety, and understanding exactly what you are feeling is the first step to seeking out help, getting support and overcoming these obstacles. The goal should be to be the best parent you can be while still taking care of your own mental, physical and emotional health, and a key aspect to that is being aware of and honest about your own mental state.
Share parenting responsibilities
If you are parenting with your partner, come up with an action plan ahead of time. Talk with each other to consider the many different responsibilities you will share as parents, and attempt to plan how you will deal with each of them. How will you split responsibilities? What is your plan of action should specific circumstances arise? Discussing and having a plan ahead of time eases the burden once you are sleep-deprived and dealing with these stressful situations, so you don’t have to have the added stress of making these decisions and delegations once you are already sleep-deprived and anxious.
If you are a single dad, call in all of the reinforcement that you can. Your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, siblings and even the neighbor next door are all rooting for you as a dad and would be happy to lend a hand when you need it. Even if you only need a babysitter for an hour so you can run some errands and do a load of laundry, don’t be afraid to ask.
Seek the advice of other parents you know
For better or for worse, fellow parents love sharing all of their favorite parenting tips and tricks. While this is sometimes unwarranted – and annoying, especially when you are trying to keep your baby from crying in the checkout line at the grocery store – other parents are also sources of wisdom. Their years of experience will serve you well when you are feeling a bout of anxiety.
Keep your pediatrician on speed dial
One of the leading sources of anxiety new parents face is concern over the health and well-being of their children. Attempting to understand and interpret the many subtle and confusing signs of your newborn’s health can be particularly daunting and stress-inducing, and just knowing that you have easy access to an expert opinion can go a long way towards easing those anxieties. Get to know your pediatrician well even before your child arrives, and don’t hesitate to approach them with any questions or concerns that might be leading to additional anxiety for you.
Prioritize sleep – yes, it is possible!
Anxiety is probably already keeping you up at night, as you are full of worries about whether your baby is happy, healthy and thriving, or if you are living up to your full potential as a dad. You are also probably anxious about how little sleep you are getting and are worried about how that affects your parenting. Unfortunately, lack of sleep contributes greatly to symptoms of anxiety because the central nervous system is not able to function at baseline levels. Herein lies the catch-22; anxiety leads to lack of sleep, and lack of sleep leads to anxiety.
Pyramid Online Counseling provides effective and secure online counseling, specializing in treating symptoms of anxiety. You should never be afraid to ask for help with your anxiety, especially as a new dad. Reach out today at 833-525-3077 to begin treatment for your anxiety.