Anxiety is ever present in stepfamily life. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of nervousness or worry. It is normal, for tensions to arise in a stepfamily as everyone adjusts to a new family structure. It can be particularly difficult for the children, who may have difficulty understanding why they must now share their parents with new people. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and confusion as they try to navigate these unfamiliar waters.
The ever present feeling of uncertainty can also be felt by the adults in a stepfamily. There is a constant balancing act between the need to maintain a strong bond with the biological children and the desire to form a relationship with the stepchildren. This can be a tricky situation as it requires patience, understanding and a willingness to compromise.
There are Many Triggers that Cause Anxiety in the Stepmom/Stepfamily Role
- Often, there are feelings of anxiety about the transitioning from having time alone with your partner to now having your stepchildren at home, or you know the kids will be leaving soon, and you feel the anxiety starting…
- Going to a soccer game, and you know “the ex” will be there. Will she cause conflict? Scream at your husband? Go into an all out temper tantrum? On the way to the game, the anxiety begins…
- You’re out spending a date night with your partner, when the phone rings. Then the texts begin. The anxiety rises…
- It’s a holiday. You have to swap the kids midday to give the other parent their designated time. You have no interest in seeing “the ex” on Christmas day, but it’s now time to go drop them off. Here comes the anxiety…
Additionally, it is common for stepfamilies to experience a range of emotions when it comes to their relationships. Feelings of guilt, resentment, insecurity, and even jealousy can all be present. This can be a difficult situation to navigate and often requires the assistance of a therapist or counselor.
Tools that Work to Manage Anxiety
Anxiety can be a difficult and overwhelming experience, but it’s important to remember that there are tools available to help manage it.
Here are some of the tools that have worked for my clients in managing their anxiety:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be very effective in helping people manage their anxiety symptoms. It involves identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that can lead to anxiety.
2. Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery can help people reduce their physical symptoms of anxiety.
Exercise can help reduce stress hormones and can also improve mood. Regular exercise can help people manage their anxiety in the long-term.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps people be present in the moment and can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you gain insight into the sources of your anxiety and can help you develop strategies for dealing with it.
6. Talking to a professional
Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to a mental health professional about your anxiety. They can help identify the source of your anxiety and provide strategies for managing it.
These are just a few of the tools that can be used to help manage anxiety. Find the one that works best for you. Stepfamily life can be challenging and overwhelming, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. With the right tools, you can take control of your anxiety and start to feel better. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to work together, stepfamilies can create a strong and loving bond.