8 Tactics and Tools to Tackle Intrusive Thoughts as a New Mom

Overcoming Intrusive Thoughts as a new mom

Do you remember when the simple act of making dinner was just that… simple? Before our little bundles of joy came along and we’d whip up a meal without a second thought, or the vivid imagination of a thrilling, Oscar-worthy drama playing out in our heads.

“Wait, where’s the baby?” The veggies are on the chopping board, but our minds, they’re on an adventure. The living room turns into a landscape of imagined danger zones. But a quick peek confirms our fears are misplaced. The baby’s fine, engrossed with a brightly colored book on the floor. Ah, parenthood!

Unwanted Guests: Intrusive Thoughts and the Postpartum Journey

Yes, these unwanted guests, the intrusive thoughts, seem to knock more often since we brought our little ones home. They’re like uninvited party crashers turning our otherwise peaceful minds into a whirlwind of anxiety.

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

Six months in, I found myself in a battle against very dark thoughts. It was time to call in the cavalry. I began seeing a therapist who specializes in postpartum moms. This was like finding a flashlight in a dark room. Some days are tougher than others, but with the right tools and support, we can tame this beast and even learn a thing or two about ourselves in the process.

Tools to Tackle the Intrusive Thoughts

1. Hands Down Arms

Imagine you’re kneading out all the stress trapped in your muscles, starting from your neck and shoulders, and working your way down your arms, all while taking deep breaths. This quick relief is like a stress-busting superhero on tough days.

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts

2. Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts

Yes, they do! And it’s okay. “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts”, This book” became a trusty ally on my journey, helping me navigate the winding road of postpartum thoughts.

Dance Part

3. Dance Parties

Ever tried to dance your anxieties away? On those stormy days, nothing works better than putting on an upbeat track and shaking it off with my little one. This energy outlet is a brilliant mood-lifter for both of us. Check out one of our favorites, Smoothie Mix by Hey Bear Sensory.

4. Blowing Bubbles

A simple exercise of sitting on the floor with my daughter, blowing bubbles and aiming for the biggest one, serves as a covert operation for some deep breathing exercises. Huge bubbles floating around are an absolute delight for both of us! One of our favorites is Fubbles!

5. Journaling

A paper can be your best listener. Writing down the thoughts that keep popping up, uncensored, undiluted, has a therapeutic effect. It provides relief and manages to rob those intrusive thoughts of their power.

6. Expressive Arts

A coloring book here, a doodle there – sometimes, this is all it takes to channel that anxious energy into something creative and satisfying. It’s like an evening jog for the mind, helping you wind down after a long day.

7. Bilateral Stimulation

Anxiety creeping in? Try tapping your knee or pressing your index finger to your thumb. These simple movements help divert the energy away, preventing anxiety from building up and providing a quick diversion from intrusive thoughts. Learn more about Bilateral Stimulation from National Library of Medicine.

8. Taking Time for Yourself

Last but certainly not least, indulge in a little me-time. For me, it’s getting lost in the art of cooking or kneading dough. This solo time allows me to zone in on something I enjoy, providing comfort and satisfaction in a productive way.

Sour dough baking

The Unintended Companion: Social Anxiety

In the grand journey of motherhood, you might find yourself with an unexpected companion: social anxiety. Those once easy, breezy conversations now replay in your mind like a film stuck on loop, scrutinizing every pause, every reply, every laugh. The dreaded beast of rumination and intrusive thoughts starts to kick in, painting a once harmless interaction into a mural of faux pas and awkward silences.

You’re not alone, trust me. In the hush-hush corridors of new motherhood, this is a more common experience than you’d think. Postpartum life can make social interactions seem as daunting as climbing a mountain. What if I say something wrong? What if they judge me? The “what ifs” start to pile up, constructing a wall of dread and self-doubt.

So, how do we step out from behind this wall?

Building Confidence, Brick by Brick

Breaking this wall might seem impossible, but remember, you’re stronger than you think. You’re a mom, after all! Employing the tactics and tools we’ve discussed – hands down arms, dance parties, journaling, and more – can help pull down these barriers, one brick at a time.

Journaling, for instance, could be your safe space to spill out those pent-up worries about social interactions. You’ll find, over time, that the power those thoughts once had starts to wane.

When social anxiety knocks, remember to take a moment for yourself. A ‘dance party’ or a session of ‘bilateral stimulation’ can help divert that anxious energy, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to face the world.

Remember, every awkward conversation, every little mistake, is a stepping stone on your journey. With each step, your confidence will grow. And before you know it, you’ll be waving goodbye to social anxiety.

My Experience with Social Anxiety

Before my little one entered my world, I was a pretty reserved person, but I didn’t dwell too much on the ‘awkward moments’ – they would come and go like fleeting clouds. But after my daughter’s birth, the landscape of my mind began to change. By the time she turned six months old, I realized my once occasional visitors, the ‘awkward moments’, had turned into unwelcome tenants.

I began to dread leaving the house. Not because I feared the outside world, but because I feared the judgment it might hold. Every interaction, every conversation was like stepping onto a stage under a harsh spotlight.

After every social interaction, my mind turned into a detective, picking apart every detail, every word, every gesture. And when it found something – a wrong word here, a missed cue there – the intrusive thoughts jumped in, magnifying the smallest of missteps into monumental errors.

An inner critic took form, ruthlessly tearing me down, justifying why I should feel this intense discomfort. A simple conversation with a neighbor could suddenly become a replay of an epic disaster movie in my head.

But dear reader, know this – acknowledging this inner turmoil was the first step towards regaining my strength. Armed with the right tools and an undying spirit, I learned to dance with my anxiety, rather than against it.

Embrace the Journey

Remember, dear mom, we are all in this together. Even the seemingly perfect mom next door has her share of struggles. The chaos, the beauty, the tears, the laughter, they are all part of this incredible journey we call parenthood.

So, here’s to all the amazing moms out there. Let’s embrace the chaos and the beauty of this journey together. Follow Practical Little Life on Instagram for more laughs, tears, and celebrations of our shared experiences. Because, at the end of the day, it’s these shared moments that make us stronger and this journey, truly beautiful.