How often do you find yourself saying this line: “I dread the feeling I have few days before and during the time my stepchildren stay with us. I have no idea what to do to stop this stress”.
Many stepmothers experience anxiety about their stepfamilies. Anxiety is normal and natural human reaction but when it lasts too long it can affect our health, relationships, and work.
Stepmothers deal with difficult ex-wives who don’t respect their boundaries and others refuse to create a relationship with them. Also, other stepmoms have husbands that don’t establish any house rules for their children so chaos reigns at home. These stepmoms wish they could have more control.
Stepmothers share a well-defined cluster of personality traits: they are incredible responsible, hard-working, and accomplished. Because they are the newest member of the family, they think it is their responsibility to blend their families.
After trying to create new traditions and form relationship with their stepchildren, many stepmothers hit a brick wall. When their efforts fail, they realise that their expectations and beliefs do not match their realities. It results cognitive dissonance which turns into anxiety and depression.
Therefore, we focus on anxiety and how we feel it first.
Symptoms of anxiety:
· Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
· Sense of danger, panic, or doom
· Increased heart rate
· Chest tightness
· Feeling weak or tired
· Shortness of breath
· Panic attacks
· Dizziness or nausea
· Muscle tension
· Trouble sleeping
· Trouble eating
· Excessive worrying
· Problems concentrating
· Ruminating over and over
· Repetitive thought patterns
· Difficulty dealing with worry
· Urge to avoid anxiety triggers
· Feeling as if you’re “going crazy”
Anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion to experience and not all of our responses to it are healthy. We’ll cover four maladaptive coping mechanisms here. Consciously or unconsciously, some stepmothers try to alleviate anxiety by changing the way they react to their partners. Ask yourself if you could relate to any of the following behaviours.
When some stepmothers feel anxious, they look to their partners for reassurance. They become overly needy and demanding. As a result, their partners may lose patience with them. This often serves to strain their interactions further.
When some stepmothers feel threatened by situations involving their stepfamilies, they try to control their environments by setting long lists of stringent House Rules: What can be done, what can’t be done, who needs to be where and when. Their partners (and their stepchildren) quickly begin to resent their rigidity.
Some stepmothers become so afraid that their partners will reject them due to ongoing stepfamily problems that they become aloof and withhold affection to pre-emptively protect themselves before their partners can reject them. This icy chill then creates emotional distance between the two partners.
Some stepmothers act out their anxiety by criticizing partners who then respond defensively. A hostile back and- forth communication pattern develops which strains their relationships further.
Focus on what you have in common. It is hard to fight someone that agrees with you.
STOP WORKING SO HARD.
As much as stepmothers strive to integrate their family members into a loving unit, they don’t have the power to achieve this goal. Bringing a family together depends upon a lot of other factors. Not everyone in the family cares about accomplishing this. Without their cooperation, it won’t take place. If this is true for you, stop working so hard. Simply accept your stepfamily for what it is.
DON’T FOCUS ON “BLENDING”
“Blending” has become the benchmark of stepfamily success. Those who have attained this status sometimes boast about it, while those of us whose stepfamilies mingle like oil and water can feel like failures. Striving to achieve an impossible goal is wearisome and an unnecessary waste of valuable time. Your stepfamily doesn’t have to blend in order for you to have a loving relationship with your partner. By reframing your expectations and by redefining your role in the family, you can reduce a lot of the anxiety you personally feel.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF.
Many stepmothers make too many sacrifices in service to their families. By focusing their efforts and attention on everyone else, they give up on going to the gym, seeing friends, pursuing hobbies, and making time for themselves. End that cycle! Go for a long walk. Listen to fun music. Read a favourite book. Meditate. The
se activities are healthy ways to reduce your anxiety levels. Additionally, seek support from family and friend
Sometimes we just need to know that others are on our side before we can believe in ourselves and make positive changes.
GET INDIVIDUAL THERAPY
While family and friends can be terrific sources of support, you may be reluctant to “tell all” to even your most intimate friends. Meeting with a professional often provides the extra ingredient necessary to overcome anxiety. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, techniques can help you examine which core beliefs contributed to your anxiety. This will then assist you in making the necessary behavioural changes to feel better long term.
REGAIN YOUR MOJO
When we feel anxious, we lose our self-confidence. To rebuild yours, take positive actions. Two founders of the Positive Psychology movement, Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD, and Christopher Peterson, PhD, believed that you are more likely to flourish if you use positive characteristics which allow you to perform at your personal best. Their research found that people who used one of their strengths in a new way each day for a week straight were happier and less depressed six months later than those subjects who hadn’t done the exercise. When we choose to undertake activities, which build pride instead of shame and guilt, life is much more enjoyable, and our resilience is reinforced.
So, ask yourself:
· What activities do I enjoy?
· Which ones come naturally?
· When do I feel truly authentic?
· What do I often pay attention to?
· What do I not need a reminder to do?
Figure out what you derive satisfaction from and do more of it. If you’re still unsure, ask close family members and friends who know you well for their opinions about your positive characteristics and primary interests. They often have excellent insights about who we are! Then, commit to doing one activity you love every day. This alone is a sure way to gain greater self-confidence and to counteract the negative effects caused by worrying. Your anxiety can be reduced by incorporating each of the above suggestions into your daily routine. I hope they help you, as well.
Today we have learned from RACHELLE KATZ