Mother’s Day is a day of celebration, but it doubles as a day of reflection for many. Whether you have a mom or a mother figure, thinking about the women who have raised you can be empowering, triggering, the subject of your next therapy appointment, fodder for a gushing, Gilmore Girls-style memoir, or all of the above. Human relationships are complex and the mother-daughter connection is not to be ignored, especially since we inherit and learn behaviors from our parents.
When I asked a group of women to share the #1 anxiety hack they learned from their moms, several revealed that anxiety itself is what was learned — hacks be damned. When it comes to mental health, it’s important to emphasize this duality. Though some may have learned anxiety-coping mechanisms from their mothers, others developed that anxiety from their moms in the first place. There are also situations where moms have learned anxiety hacks from their daughters, as well as women who have learned how not to treat anxiety by watching their mother figures’ behaviors.
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to anxiety and mother-daughter relationships, but moms are definitely a source of wisdom for most women. Below, discover the anxiety hacks nine women learned from their moms.
A bowl of “mush.”
“My anxiety usually hits me at night, when I’m alone. One time when I was little and had trouble sleeping, I snuck into my parents’ room and gently shook my mom’s shoulder. She took me to the kitchen where she crushed up a handful of graham crackers and poured milk over the pieces. We sat on the couch together, eating our bowls of ‘mush’ (as I called it). To this day, if I can’t sleep because I’m feeling anxious, getting out of bed to make a midnight snack and eating it silently on the couch always brings my mind out of my clouds of anxiety.”
Have faith in the Universe and in others.
“Talk therapy… [and] believing that the Universe works in my favor.”
— Vartika Puranik
Set the mood for de-stressing.
“The #1 anxiety hack I learned from my mother is de-stressing with essential oils. We always had eucalyptus oil-scented candles at home, as well as pillow sprays for bedtime. It really helped me unwind when I felt like I had a lot on my plate.”
Put it all on paper.
“Make a list!”
Focus on the good.
“Stay positive, no matter what — ‘everything has a solution.'”
The power of scent and taste.
“Put a drop of peppermint oil under your nose or drink a coke!”
— Eileen W. Cho
Reach out to others.
“1. Make a list. 2. Make an actual plan to spend time with friends.”
— Kristi Benson
Mantras for when times get tough.
“My grandmother used to tell my mom, who now tells me, these two phrases when bad, anxiety-inducing things happened: ‘You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last’ and also, ‘This feeling won’t last forever.’ It seems like such a small thing, but for years, I’ve been saying these phrases to calm myself down from really stressful situations — and it works. The best part is, they were always right.”
Remember you have each other.
“My mom and I both deal with anxiety, big time, and our ‘hack’ is usually just to call each other! Because no matter what else happens, our relationship is a constant, and knowing that makes it easier to deal with everything else.”