Tips for First Time Dads to Overcome New Dad Anxiety

baby Apr 20, 2020
Tips for First Time Dads to Overcome New Dad Anxiety

Becoming a father for the first time is incredibly exciting. There are so many things to look forward to: holding your newborn in your arms, hearing them say “dada,” teaching them how to play a sport, and so much more. But together with all that excitement comes anxiety — a lot of it.

It’s completely normal to experience new dad anxiety. After all, this is the first time you’re doing all this. You’re basically navigating uncharted waters. With the right help and guidance, however, you can overcome new dad anxiety and become the best father you can be.

So today, Dad University is here with our top tips to help you do exactly that.

Remember: It’s Totally Normal

The first step to overcoming new dad anxiety is acknowledging that it’s normal. You’re not alone in feeling this way. More importantly, you won’t be the last to feel like you’re a wreck. Practically all expectant dads experience anxiety — it doesn’t make you any less of a dad or any less excited about your soon-to-come or just-arrived baby. All anxiety does is make you human.

So, take a deep breath, remind yourself it’s okay to feel worried and anxious, and hold your head up to face the day.

Put Your Thoughts to Paper

Putting your thoughts to paper (or to your phone note app) can be extremely therapeutic. It can help you understand what exactly is causing your anxiety and can even make it feel more manageable. Try writing down all the things that are keeping your anxiety levels up about becoming a father.

Are you worried about whether you can financially support your new family? Is the thought of how your life will undoubtedly change overwhelming you? Are you scared of not knowing how to care or even hold for your baby properly?

Writing these thoughts down will help you find clarity. When everything is laid out in front of you, it becomes easier to come up with solutions. Remember, acknowledging what’s causing your anxiety is the first step towards overcoming it.

Take Care of Your Health

We get it, you’re worried and preoccupied about taking care of your newborn — that’s totally valid and normal. But remember, you can’t take care of your baby if you’re not taking care of yourself. In fact, taking care of yourself is crucial for managing feelings of anxiety for new dads.

It can be easy to neglect your own health when you’re preoccupied with becoming a new dad. So, make sure to put your mental and physical health on your list of priorities. Keeping a to-do list of simple health and wellness tasks — like making sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly — can make ensuring you get what your body needs much easier.

Remember, eating well also involves moderating your alcohol and caffeine intake, both of which can increase anxiety levels. While an occasional drink or coffee is okay, keep it as minimal as possible for the sake of both your physical and mental health.

Lastly, don’t use your mental health to stay up late binge-watching on Netflix. Yes, it might help you relax and unwind, but not getting enough sleep can worsen feelings of anxiety for new dads.

Have Empathy for Your Partner

It can be easy to get caught up in your own anxieties and forget about the person who is going through this journey with you. Remember, it’s not just you who is going through a life-changing experience — your partner is too.

Chances are, your partner is likely also feeling anxious and overwhelmed. From postpartum recovery to hormone fluctuations and the physical demands of nursing, your partner may be enduring a lot more than you realize.

So, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and be empathetic towards them. Ask them how they’re feeling and offer support, even if it means taking on more responsibilities around the house or with the baby.

Figure Out If It’s Within Your Control

As a new dad, there are many things that can cause anxiety that may be out of your control. For example, your baby’s health or the state of the economy can both be major sources of stress.

It’s important to recognize what is within your control and what isn’t. After listing down everything that’s causing you anxiety, take a long hard look at each one and see whether it’s actually within your control or not.

If it is, then that means you have options or avenues you can explore to address those concerns. You can ask for help, read how-to guides or tips online, and more. But if it’s out of your control, then it’s time to let go and focus on other things you can do instead. Don’t waste your time and your mental health holding onto things you can’t change or control anyway.

Communicate With Your Partner

Lastly, one of the best ways to overcome new dad anxiety is to communicate openly and effectively with your partner. Share your thoughts, feelings, and anxieties with them and listen to their perspective. Remember, you’re in this together and communication is key.

Open communication with your partner can shed light on the emotional turbulence you might be experiencing as a new dad. If you’ve been feeling more prickly than usual or have found yourself in more disagreements, sharing your anxieties can provide some context for these changes — and mend any strain in your relationship. You and your partner are both adults. Having a mature discussion about the concerns that are troubling you should be one of your go-to solutions if you’re having problems.

It can be difficult to talk about our vulnerabilities and fears, but opening up to your partner can bring you closer together and help you both navigate this new journey as parents.

Final Advice for Anxious New Dads

Remember, new dad anxiety is a normal phenomenon and you’re not alone in feeling this way. With a bit of patience, empathy, and open communication, you will not only survive but thrive in your new role. So, take a deep breath, trust yourself, and embrace the adventurous journey of fatherhood that lies ahead.

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