Anxiety Relief for Dads

July 30, 2019 6 min read

anxiety relief for dads

Newborn father frustration is especially common among new dads. Try as you may to feel completely happy about the arrival of your new bundle of joy, you probably have several uneasy thoughts and emotions running through your mind.

Am I going to be a good daddy? (You’re going to be a kick ass dad!)

Will I ever learn how to change a diaper? (Changing a diaper is easier than you think, but it can get a little messy so buy a lot of wipes)

Can I adequately provide for my child? (Your baby doesn’t need a silver spoon…focus on food, water, shelter, and clothing and you’ll be just fine)

Do I have to stop drinking beer? (Absolutely not!)

You're not alone as a dad experiencing anxious thoughts. Assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine in Chicago, Sheehan David Fisher, PhD, says research reveals that 10% of fathers worldwide experience daddy depression after becoming a new dad. Other research confirms this percentage goes up to 14% for dads in the United States. It's also not uncommon for dads to experience higher levels of anxiety after the birth of a child than at other times throughout their lives.

Whether you're struggling with daddy depression and anxiety after your first, third or fifth child, you're not alone. More importantly, anxiety relief for dads is easily accessible, and we're here to help you find relief that works for you.

You can continue reading below or watch the video where George takes you through the Diving Response below.

What Does Daddy Depression and Anxiety Look Like?

The signs of daddy depression and anxiety are easy to spot. You may go through bouts of feeling sad even when holding your precious baby. A lot of dads with daddy depression lose their sense of pleasure in things that normally make them happy, like golfing, having sex, or even interacting with their other children.

Some of the most common symptoms of daddy depression and anxiety, medically known as paternal postnatal depression, are listed below. If you notice any of these symptoms lasting for longer than two weeks, then please by all means go see your doctor. There's a good chance the doc can inform you of several holistic and natural ways to turn things around in a very short period of time.

  • Feeling anxious
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Feeling of loss of control
  • Disinterest in parenting
  • Self-loathing
  • Withdrawing from family
  • Persistent worries about caring physically and financially for your family
  • Backaches
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Headaches
  • Digestive disorders
  • Sleep problems

Communication Is Key

Communication is paramount to the success of any relationship, and this particularly applies when you’re feeling a bit down and anxious. Not only should you talk to your wife about the way you feel, but it’s also a good idea to speak with a medical professional. Admitting you feel the way you feel is the first step to actually getting better, so don’t ever feel the need to hide your feelings. Sure, everyone knows guys have a “macho complex,” but admitting you don’t feel like your normal self doesn’t make you any less “macho.” In fact, your honesty might be a huge turn on to your wife, and she might try to cheer you up in the bedroom. There isn’t anything much better than a good round of ‘love makin’ to relieve anxiety, right? 

Use Your Body

Did you know you can use your own body -- the very one that is experiencing anxiety -- to reset itself back to a calm, loving and emotional state to be the best version of yourself? To do this, you need to know about the diving response.

The diving response takes place when your body hits cold water. When this happens, all of your body's blood flow is directly focused on your core. Your heart rate is reduced to conserve oxygen because the body is tricked into thinking it's not going to get it. A byproduct of this process is that your body resets its emotional state. So, whatever you're feeling, whether it be anxiety, anger, or sadness, the diving response resets you back to a baseline, to your core functions that keep you alive. Most importantly, because the body doesn't think it's going to get oxygen, it shuts off your mind and focuses solely on survival.

To send your body into the diving response, you need cold water. You can have a bowl of ice water, an ice pack, a bathtub of cold water, or even go to a river or stream of cold water. What you do is place the cold water under your eyes and on your cheekbones. You can easily do this with ice packs or by dipping your face into cold water. The goal is to hold your face in cold water for about 15 to 20 seconds. The freezing cold water takes away your anxiety and helps you get back to an emotional state that you're comfortable with.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Sitting on a couch for two hours every week and talking to a therapist might not sound like your cup of tea, but when it comes to anxiety relief for dads, cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely effective. Often carried out over a period of 10 to 16 weeks, this form of therapy involves speaking with a therapist each week to learn how to change your behaviors so that you change your emotional state. Simply put, you learn how to change the way you act and think to improve the way you feel.

Associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University, James Paulson, PhD, says treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy have 60% to 80% success rates. That's a pretty good chance of getting rid of your anxiety.

Educate Yourself

People get anxious about things when they don’t feel in control. You gain a much better sense of control when you know what to expect, and this is why educating yourself on all aspects of parenthood is a great way to relieve anxiety.

You might think you already know everything about parenting if you have other children, but the truth is, raising a child is usually different from one child to the next. Not only are you raising a completely different person with a completely different personality, but as time passes, the way you parent changes, too. Think about the 60s versus the 80s, and the 90s versus the 21st century. Things change so much from one decade to the next, and as society continues to evolve and becomes more technologically advanced, the way we raise children changes, as well.

One of the best ways to educate yourself about today’s modern parenting is to turn to the internet. You can learn about everything from the best diaper changing mats to how to jump-start the bonding process between dads and newborns. You can even learn how to not raise an asshole! The more knowledge you have about having a child and what to expect, the less likely you are to experience anxiety. 

Get Away From Parenting

It might sound counteractive, but another great way to experience anxiety relief for dads (and to become a better parent) is to get away from parenting for awhile (by awhile we mean for the afternoon or weekend...not months or years!).

If you’re in a relationship with a special someone, you most definitely should carve out some alone time for the two of you. The happier the two of you are as a couple, the happier you’ll be as parents. And the happier your children see you, the more likely they are to grow up and establish meaningful and lasting relationships with their spouses.

Whether it be taking your hottie out on a date to the movies or sweeping her away for a weekend-long romantic retreat, you should try to squeeze in alone time with her once a month. On a daily basis, you should try to set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes to talk about your day. Ask her about her day and tell her about yours. Talking is one of the best ways to relieve anxiety.

In addition to alone time with your significant other, don’t be afraid to step away for some actual alone time with yourself. From yoga to taking a hike in the woods, “solitude, the research finds, has a lessening effect not only on arousing positive emotions but also strong negative emotions, ultimately leaving people calmer, more relaxed, less angry, and less anxious.” 

Final Thoughts

So, what’s it going to be? What type of anxiety relief are you going to take advantage of? There are several types of relief to try, and you can keep trying them until you find one that works well for you.

Ultimately, what you need to realize is that no one ever said being a dad was going to be easy. If you ever feel overwhelmed and like you’re not doing a great job, take a moment to reflect on reality and how you work your ass off to put food on the table and diapers in the diaper bag. You work your ass off to provide, protect and connect with your children. You’re a kick ass dad and you definitely deserve a beer for being one. Oh, by the way, we forgot to mention that having a beer or two every once in a while can actually reduce anxiety. So, bottoms up!


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