I’ve been riding waves of anxiety the last two months. They are unwelcome, but certainly not unfamiliar. I recognize them first by the frequency with which I check social media (distraction), then by the scenarios playing in my head on loop (control), and, at last, undeniably by the feeling in my chest (panic). There is reason for anxiety – caring for two kids is not easy, and there is both an art to it and a steep learning curve. The firsts have been daunting – the first week with Dave back at work full time, the first days without family here to help, the first solo bedtime.

About a month ago, I texted my friend Kate about my anxiety. She responded with a question: what helps you when you are anxious?

I pondered her question all day. It seems like a simple question, and yet I had not gotten to it yet myself. I needed her prompting to start thinking about what I could do to step out of the spiral. As she said later, often the best pieces of advice are questions.

I made a list in my journal that day of all the things that help me when I’m anxious, and I’ve tried them over the last several weeks.

  • Putting my phone away for a while
  • Turning on email notifications so I stop checking it constantly
  • Praying when my anxiety rises: My soul finds rest in God alone. My hope comes from you. You are my rock and my salvation. You are my fortress; I will never be shaken.
  • I noticed that my mind was looping scenarios while I nursed Asher before bed, mostly about how on earth I’d get both kids to bed by myself. So instead of sitting there thinking, I now pray briefly and then read Harry Potter. It helps. I may be a mom to two tinies, but at least I’m not fighting a dragon right now.
  • I found a new way to pray, thanks to a book I got from my parents for Easter: Praying in Color. I pray, slowly and deliberately, that God will sustain me.
  • I remember that I can do hard things. I feel much more competent when I feel confident.
  • I think about why I am anxious. Yes, in part, it is this transition to two kiddos. But I also have had a lot of momentum on this book project of mine, and I have to remind myself that excitement and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. That helps.
  • I drink a lot of tea. That’s what I do when I don’t know what else to do.

Am I still anxious? Yes, sometimes. But these practices, slowly, are helping. It takes a lot of trial and error, but trying new practices is a whole lot better than paralysis.

What are you feeling these days? What helps you when you are feeling that way?