Join our FREE live Masterclass: Repairing with Your Child After You Lose Your Cool
Register Here!
Join our FREE live Masterclass: Repairing with Your Child After You Lose Your Cool
Register Here!

February 20, 2024

September 20, 2023

Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears

E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

What You'll Learn

  • Why Mom Anxiety Is on the Rise
  • How Mom Anxiety Impacts Our Risk Assessment
  • How to Take an Empowered Approach to Mom Anxiety
  • The Rise of Social Anxiety for Moms
  • How Mom Anxiety Leads to Overparenting
  • Ways to Start Challenging Mom Anxiety

“Mom anxiety” often extends far beyond the postpartum period. It feels like we’re living in a scary world. We often respond by overparenting or withdrawing from experiences. But that might not be the best approach to help us learn to live with our fears and manage our anxious thoughts. 

Today, I’m joined by psychologist Dr. Lauren Cook, author of Generation Anxiety, to unpack mom anxiety and learn how to keep our fears from holding us and our kids back. 

Millennial Moms and Anxiety

Being a millennial mom can be overwhelming. It often feels like the world is full of danger. From horror stories on the news to social media warnings to the pandemic to climate change to violence against minority groups—we have a lot to worry about. 

So it’s no wonder that mom anxiety has become such a common experience. We’re mothering with increased pressure to be perfect, and navigating a world that feels scary and uncertain.

But how do we work through those fears, understand how to realistically assess risk, and ensure that our anxiety isn’t getting in the way of experiences for us and our children? 

I was so excited to chat with Dr. Lauren about this subject and hear her thoughts on how we can navigate mom anxiety and move forward through our fears. 

Why Mom Anxiety Is on the Rise

Dr. Lauren said that anxiety is the most common mental health concern experience that we see—the rates are higher than ever, and symptoms are also more severe. 

Part of this is because millennials and Gen Z have lived through many big, frightening experiences—including 9/11, the murder of George Floyd, COVID, and school shootings. Dr. Lauren said that 75% of young adults say they feel unsafe every single day. 

We’re also momming in the age of social media. In past generations, when large-scale events would happen, moms might read about them or hear about them, but not in the same way we do now. 

75% of young adults say they feel unsafe every single day.

Now, whenever we log into social media we might see awful stories or hear about scary events—sometimes many times throughout the day. 

To complicate matters even more, the internet is full of conflicting stories and misinformation. We have the added responsibility of fact-checking, comparing sources, and evaluating everything we hear. It can feel overwhelming. 

When we’re confronted with large, scary events, we might feel unable to protect our children and keep them safe. It’s scary to feel like you’re sending your child into danger just by letting them attend school or go out with their friends. 

Dr. Lauren said that many of us feel hopeless and helpless, which leads not just to anxiety but also to depression. 

We often respond by withdrawing from the world—spending more time at home, eliminating outings, or avoiding events. But Dr. Lauren said that instinct is understandable, but if we run away from problems, we never learn how to solve them. 

Instead, we have to find a way to face our fears and solve problems that come our way. 

How Mom Anxiety Impacts Our Risk Assessment

Anxiety has a way of making us unable to properly gauge risk. Our anxieties and fears can become written as narratives that are certain, or more likely than they actually are—especially when it comes to high-stakes fears, such as the safety of our children. 

Dr. Lauren pointed out that statistically speaking we’re actually in a very safe time in many ways. Overall crime rate is down for the most part and there is an increase in safety in many places. 

And yet, so many of us are feeling unsafe day to day. We often fall into thought traps, assuming the worst or catastrophizing. 

Dr. Lauren said that this is happening with fear around death, and also with separation anxiety. Many of her millennial and Gen Z clients are struggling with separation anxiety, fearing that they might not see their loved ones again. 

This can affect their ability to communicate problems because they are afraid they can lose their relationships at any point. 

Dr. Lauren said it’s important to remember logic and ask ourselves to think about the real chances of something happening. There will always be tragic events, but that doesn’t mean that they are statistically likely to happen to us. 

If we let our fears dictate our actions, our world gets smaller and smaller. 

She pointed out that if we let our fears dictate our actions, staying home or avoiding experiences, our world gets smaller and smaller, and we feel isolated, leading to more depression and anxiety. 

We can find a balance of honoring our feelings, acknowledging our mom anxiety, and still going out and living our lives. 

How to Take an Empowered Approach to Mom Anxiety

So how can we face our fears and approach anxiety in a healthy way? Dr. Lauren advocates for a two-pronged approach to anxiety called “empowered acceptance.” 

First, we have to accept the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. Second, we have to be empowered in our approach and find ways to do something about the situation. If we take the approach of being unable to affect change, our anxiety will continue to persist. 

We might not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely helpless.

For example, if we are anxious about climate change and what the world is going to look like for our children down the line, we can take steps like getting solar panels, eating less red meat, or using sustainable products in the home. 

Dr. Lauren said that an empowered approach needs to happen both on an individual scale and a larger, community scale. We can make changes in our individual lives and homes to do what we can. But we also need to come together as communities to solve the issues we face. 

She pointed to the writer’s and actor’s strikes as an example of the empowered acceptance approach. The strikes are partially fueled by concerns over how actors’ digital likenesses can be used in the future. Those involved in the strike are acknowledging their fears and coming together to address them and advocate for themselves. 

When we come together to solve problems, we feel much less isolated, alone, and helpless.

When we come together to solve problems, we feel much less isolated, alone, and helpless. 

The Rise of Social Anxiety for Moms

Dr. Lauren said that while a community approach is important, the process often begins individually. 

Anxiety often stems from uncertainty—and there are many things in the world that we don’t have control over or can’t find answers for. 

In a world that feels uncertain, we have to carve out and find safety for ourselves. When we can feel secure in our own safety, we can go out and make change to help others. 

When we can feel secure in our own safety, we can go out and make change to help others.

Dr. Lauren said that one of the most important things we can do is make sure we have people in our lives. 

For many people, social anxiety has increased since the pandemic. Collectively, we lost a lot of practice with socializing. For many of us, these effects are still lingering. We might feel uncomfortable socializing or meeting new people and avoid social situations as a result. 

Dr. Lauren said to think of socialization as a muscle that has atrophied. We might want to pull back and not engage, but what we really need is to rebuild those social muscles. 

She is also an advocate of taking a holistic look at our healing when it comes to anxiety. That might include therapy, medication, bloodwork, or naturopathic approaches. She said that it’s important to look at the big picture of mental health and determine what works for us. 

Ultimately, Dr. Lauren hopes that we can learn to view our mom anxiety in a different way. She said that we often feel like we need to make our anxiety go away—by controlling or avoiding. Instead, we can view anxiety not as something to avoid or take away, but as something that is part of us. 

There will be many times that we feel anxious during experiences—but that’s ultimately a win because it didn’t stop us from living our lives. 

How Mom Anxiety Leads to Overparenting

Another common way mom anxiety shows up is overparenting. We might find ourselves helicopter parenting or trying to remove all risk from our children’s lives. 

Overparenting is often fueled by intensive mothering ideology (the pressure to be “perfect moms”), fear of shame or judgment, an increase in safety devices that encourage us to be hypervigilant (such as breathing monitors or at-home Doppler devices), or an attempt to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction from which we were raised. 

Helicopter parenting doesn’t come from a bad place. We often feel that our hypervigilance, overprotection, or attention to potential risk shows how much we love our children. But if taken to an extreme, it can be suffocating for our kids. 

Children need to have their own experiences, develop independence, and build their own resilience. If we want them to be brave enough to put themselves out there or try new things, we have to be okay with letting go of some control. 

Children need to have their own experiences, develop independence, and build their own resilience.

That might mean eliminating the overreliance on technology, allowing children to play on their own, avoiding location tracking, or simply letting them make their own mistakes. 

Sometimes our children can internalize our anxiety and start to develop their own anxiety, thinking that it might protect them in some way. But we likely want our kids to be willing to have experiences, overcome challenges, and find their own way in life. 

Ways to Start Challenging Mom Anxiety

It can be helpful to challenge our thought traps when we start feeling anxious. For example, if we find ourselves thinking of what horrible thing might happen, we can pause and come up with three alternative outcomes that are more positive and more likely than what our mom anxiety is causing us to jump to. 

Another valuable tool to exercise is the ability to see things from different perspectives. Dr. Lauren said this can be as simple as stopping to listen to an opposing viewpoint on social media rather than just assuming our beliefs must be inherently right. Having curiosity and admitting that we don’t have all the answers can be a way to start questioning or reframing our thoughts. 

We can also work on embracing the ordinary, mundane moments of life—for us and our children. Sometimes forced positivity isn’t the answer—realism is. For example, we might be worried about sending our children to summer camp because of all the potential negatives.

Sometimes forced positivity isn’t the answer—realism is.

At the same time, for all we know it could be the best experience of their lives. However, it might be neither—it might just be an experience they go through that just turns out to be okay. Not everything has to be an extreme. Not every moment has to be terrible or extraordinary. 

Finally, we can work on exposing ourselves to the things that scare us. Dr. Lauren pointed out that we can think of anxiety as a wave. Every time we face something, our anxiety ultimately goes down—the wave gets smaller and smaller each time. But if we don’t give ourselves the chance to ride through the crest of the wave, it actually gets bigger. 

We have to give ourselves the chance to see that can in fact ride out the anxiety when it comes up. 

If you’re struggling with mom anxiety, our virtual mom therapists can help! Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation today!

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Overparenting, Thought traps, Millennial moms

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Lauren Cook is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, company consultant, author, and speaker. With a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and her Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Lauren appears frequently in the media to provide commentary while also working with companies as well as individual adults, couples, families, and teens to help reduce anxiety and improve personal and professional outcomes. She integrates evidence-based tools from a systems lens and she speaks internationally, both in-person and virtually. Dr. Lauren owns a private practice, Heartship Psychological Services, serving all clients residing in California. You can connect with Dr. Lauren through Tik Tok, Instagram, her Brain Health Book Club, and through her podcast, The Boardroom Brain. Stay tuned for Dr. Lauren’s latest book, GENERATION ANXIETY—set to hit the shelves in September 2023.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
May 21, 2024
May 15, 2024
Encouraging Healthy Screen Time Habits: Rethinking Our Approach in the Digital Age
E:
225
with
Dr. Michael Rich
Founder of Digital Wellness Lab
April 29, 2024
April 24, 2024
Understanding and Implementing Responsive Parenting: How to Break the Yelling/Shame Cycle
E:
222
with
Dr. Cindy Hovington
Founder of Curious Neuron
April 22, 2024
April 17, 2024
How to Maintain Friendships (and Make Friends) as a Mom
E:
221
with
Danielle Bayard Jackson
Author
April 15, 2024
April 10, 2024
How Stressed Moms Can Cope: Understanding and Breaking Out of the Stress Cycle
E:
220
with
Amelia Nagoski
Co-author of Burnout
April 1, 2024
March 6, 2024
Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts About Baby: The Role of Stress, Anxiety, and Anger
E:
215
with
Dr. Caroline Boyd
Clinical Psychologist
March 25, 2024
February 28, 2024
How to Embrace Career Change as a Mom: Finding Your Passion and Overcoming Guilt
E:
214
with
Jess Galica
Career and Leadership Coach, Best-Selling Author
February 26, 2024
January 31, 2024
Postpartum Rage vs. Parental Anger: How Social Expectations Create Overwhelmed Moms
E:
210
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder and CEO of Psyched Mommy, licensed clinical psychologist
April 25, 2024
January 24, 2024
You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)
E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood
February 20, 2024
January 17, 2024
What Causes Mommy Brain? The Role of the Invisible Load on Forgetfulness and Brain Fog
E:
208
with
Dr. Jodi Pawluski
neuroscientist, psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
January 3, 2024
How Parents Can Avoid Information Overload: Maintaining Confidence in Our Decision-Making
E:
206
with
Cara Goodwin
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 29, 2023
Prioritizing the Invisible Load of Motherhood: Valuing Our Own Time and Letting Go of Mental Labor
E:
201
with
Whitney Casares
Founder and CEO of Modern Mommy Doc
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 8, 2023
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Perfectionism? Reframing the Concept of “Perfect” in Motherhood
E:
198
with
Katherine Morgan Schafler
Psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
October 11, 2023
Embracing the 7 Types of Rest: Why Moms Are Exhausted and What Actually Helps
E:
194
with
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Board-Certified internal medicine physician and award-winning author
February 20, 2024
October 4, 2023
Interpreting Newborn Hunger Cues and Sleepy Signs: How to Learn Your Baby’s Needs
E:
193
with
Sharon Mazel
Author of Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby’s First Year
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 13, 2023
Embracing Power as Moms: Reshaping Dynamics In and Out of the Home
E:
190
with
Claire Shipman
NYT Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 23, 2023
Understanding Sensory Self-Care: How Overstimulated Moms Can Regulate and Regain Calm
E:
187
with
Holly Peretz
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
August 16, 2023
Navigating Matrescence: The Roller Coaster of Becoming a Mom
E:
186
with
Dr. Catherine Birndorf
Co-Founder and Medical Director of The Motherhood Center of New York
February 20, 2024
August 2, 2023
Establishing Family Values: How to Identify What Matters and Avoid Comparison
E:
184
with
Mell & Joe Hashey
Founders of Strong Family Co.
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
April 19, 2023
Overcoming Grief as Our Children Age: The Value of Acceptance and How to Be More Present
E:
169
with
Bryana Kappadakunnel
Marriage & Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
March 29, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 2: Facing Pregnancy After a Traumatic Birth
E:
166
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 22, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 1: How Birth Trauma Impacts Our Family Decision Making
E:
165
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
February 8, 2023
Overcoming Mom Guilt: Rewriting the Motherhood Contract and Charting Your Own Path
E:
159
with
Libby Ward
Founder of Diary of an Honest Mom
February 20, 2024
January 11, 2023
Understanding Baby Temperament: How to Tune Into Your Child’s Natural Personality
E:
155
with
Dr. Cara Goodwin
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
November 23, 2022
The Mental Load of Motherhood: How to Address the Imbalance of Household Labour
E:
148
with
Gemma Hartley
Journalist and Author
February 20, 2024
November 16, 2022
Surviving the Baby Witching Hour: How to Cope With Colicky and Fussy Babies
E:
147
with
Dr. Whitney Casares
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 19, 2022
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Navigating the Emotions, Difficulties, and Challenges
E:
143
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 12, 2022
How to Know if You Have Postpartum Anxiety: Red Flags to Watch for in Pregnancy, Birth, and After Baby
E:
142
with
Dr. Sarah Oreck
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
October 5, 2022
Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
E:
141
with
Dr. Nicole Leistikow
Reproductive Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
September 28, 2022
Establishing Age-Appropriate Boundaries With Kids: How to Set Limits That Kids Want to Follow
E:
140
with
Tia Slightham
@parentingcoach on TikTok and Founder of Parenting Solutions
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
September 7, 2022
How To Help a Child Regulate Their Emotions: Why Remembering the Good Matters
E:
137
with
Dr. Becky Kennedy
Founder of Good Inside
April 25, 2024
August 31, 2022
Why Does a Messy House Give Me Anxiety? How to Stress Less About Cleaning and Keep Your House Functioning
E:
136
with
KC Davis
@domesticblisters on TikTok and Founder of Struggle Care
February 20, 2024
August 24, 2022
How to Support a Child Going Through Transitions: Strategies for Separation Anxiety, Back-to-School, and Beyond
E:
135
with
Jess VanderWier
Founder of Our Mama Village
February 20, 2024
August 17, 2022
How to Help a Child With School Anxiety: Easing Worries and Promoting Resilience
E:
134
with
Dr. Becky Kennedy
Founder of Good Inside
February 20, 2024
August 10, 2022
Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? Kindergarten Readiness Is Different Than You Think
E:
133
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
August 3, 2022
Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Why Support Matters and How to Find Resources to Help
E:
132
with
Dr. Wendy Davis
Executive Director of PSI
February 20, 2024
July 27, 2022
Overcoming Working Mom Guilt: Why Moms Should Never Be Ashamed to Be Ambitious
E:
131
with
Lara Bazelon
Law Professor and Author
February 20, 2024
May 25, 2022
Navigating Tantrums and Meltdowns: Understanding Sensory Reactions and Supporting Neurodivergent Children
E:
122
with
Laura Petix
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
April 6, 2022
How to Get Kids to Stop Whining: Strategies for Communicating With Young Children
E:
115
with
Joanna Faber and Julie King
Authors
February 20, 2024
March 23, 2022
How to Get Your Kids to Listen: Tips for Managing Defiance in Young Children
E:
113
with
Joanna Faber and Julie King
Authors
February 20, 2024
February 23, 2022
Navigating After School Restraint Collapse: What Causes the Meltdowns and How You Can Help
E:
109
with
Dr. Kristyn Sommer, Ph.D.
Child Development Researcher
February 20, 2024
February 16, 2022
What is Matrescence? The Transition into Motherhood (And Why Being a New Mom is Hard)
E:
108
with
Dr. Katayune Kaeni
Perinatal Psychologist
February 20, 2024
February 2, 2022
Discover Your Personal Core Values
E:
106
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 26, 2022
When Mommy Rage Strikes: How to Prevent and Control the Anger
E:
105
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
January 5, 2022
Sleep Training Doesn't Have To Be Scary
E:
102
with
Dr. Aubrie DeBear
Founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
February 20, 2024
January 19, 2022
Carrying the Mental Load: How to Redistribute the Burden and Give Moms More Freedom
E:
104
with
Eve Rodsky
New York Times Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
January 12, 2022
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: How to Spot the Signs So You Can Seek Support
E:
103
with
Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
December 29, 2021
Decluttering: The Secret of an Easy to Tidy Home
E:
101
with
Katy Wells
Declutter Expert
February 20, 2024
December 22, 2021
100th Episode: Erica’s Husband Tells All
E:
100
with
Frenel Djossa