Mindful Motherhood: Conquering Overthinking for Mums of Autistic Children

by | Feb 12, 2024

I am not immune to overthinking.  There, I said it!  Yes, I am a coach but I’m also human.   I am not immortal to the challenges that come up against mums facing the journey that their child is being diagnosed with autism.  I, like so many mums that are reading this blog have lived experience with overthinking and I’m going to tell you right now, nothing good comes of overthinking. You’re destroying your mind, dwindling your energy and your vibration becomes non-existent.  Our beautiful kids can pick up those vibrations quicker than you can so ‘well that’s a bit woo woo for me.’  We are balls of energy and what overthinking does is throw a big blanket of I’m not good enough.  We begin to doubt ourselves, our decisions, our strategies and even our parenting.

– Let me ask you this – answer honestly, has this ever happened to you?

– You can’t make a decision about something big?

– You find it difficult to live in the here and now?

– You second guess yourself at every turn?

– You’re constantly looping?  Looping is where the same thought ruminates in your brain repeatedly.

– You constantly replay conversations you’ve had with people and assuming you know what they were thinking?

– You remind yourself of all the mistakes you made in the past, going all the way back to when you were a teenager.

– A phrase that you find yourself saying on repeat is ‘what if’.

I you answered yes to more than three questions, you’re an overthinker.  Welcome to the party, there are plenty of us to talk to.

Overthinking is like a tangled web of thoughts that traps us in a cycle of worry, anxiety, and indecision. As mums of newly diagnosed autistic children, it’s natural to want to understand every aspect of your child’s condition and anticipate every possible challenge they may face. However, constantly ruminating on “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios only serves to heighten stress and diminish your ability to cope effectively.

Overthinking also looks like worry, fret being concerned, being anxious, agonizing, brooding, panicking, loosing sleep, getting worked up, being stressed out.  Do any of these emotions feel familiar to you?

The toll of overthinking extends beyond mental exhaustion. It can manifest physically through symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and disrupted sleep patterns. Moreover, overthinking can strain relationships, as constant worry consumes our attention and diminishes our capacity for presence and connection with our loved ones.  Yet, you can break the cycle when it rears its ugly head and here’s how:

Strategies for Breaking Free:

– Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and body scans, can help anchor you in the present moment, reducing the tendency to dwell on hypothetical future scenarios. Start with short mindfulness exercises and gradually incorporate them into your daily routine.

– Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you catch yourself spiralling into a cycle of negative thinking, challenge the validity of those thoughts. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support your concerns or if you’re catastrophizing. Replace irrational thoughts with more balanced and realistic perspectives.

– Set Boundaries with Information: While it’s essential to educate yourself about autism and the resources available, set boundaries with the amount of information you consume. Limit your exposure to online forums or articles that trigger anxiety and focus on reputable sources of information that provide practical guidance and support.

– Embrace Imperfection: As mothers, we often place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to be perfect caregivers. Understand that it’s okay to make mistakes and that imperfection is a natural part of the parenting journey. Give yourself permission to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed.

– Focus on What You Can Control: Instead of fixating on circumstances beyond your control, channel your energy into areas where you can make a positive impact. Celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small, and take proactive steps to create a supportive environment that nurtures their growth and development.

Overthinking can rob us of the joy and fulfillment that come with parenthood, especially when navigating the complexities of raising a newly diagnosed autistic child. By practicing mindfulness, challenging negative thoughts, setting boundaries with information, embracing imperfection, and focusing on what we can control, we can break free from the grip of overthinking and approach this journey with resilience and optimism. Remember, you are not alone on this path, and together, we can navigate the challenges and celebrate the triumphs that lie ahead.

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