Overwhelmed single mom? Feeling stressed out? 5 things to do

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Perhaps not surprising, studies find that single moms are twice as likely to be depressed and anxious than partnered moms. One study of nearly 7,000 mothers in Europe found that 30% of single mothers reported symptoms of depression or anxiety compared with just 14% of partnered mothers and 37% of single moms reported high parenting stress compared with 16% of partnered mothers.

Here is what you can do if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out:

1. Practice self-care 

Self-care means putting your own mental, spiritual, physical and social well-being before all else — filling your cup so you can serve others in your family, at work, in your community. Read this excellent post about self-care from therapist Elizabeth Cohen, PhD

2. Take free mental health online courses

Coursera's free trial covers the Science of Well-Being course:

  • The Science of Well-Being, from a Yale professor, has been taken by more than 3 million people, and promises to teach skills that lead to more happiness and productivity.

Coursera also offers:

3. Try a self-help workbook

Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety, by Seth J. Gillihan PhD has helped thousands of people — affordably, on your own time, in private.

4. Outsource

Fact: You cannot do it alone. Never in history have parents been expected to be sole caregivers, breadwinners, educators and housekeepers — but instead relied on communities of multi-generational extended family and neighbors. Trying to do it all alone is crazy-making.

Find housekeeping, child care and elder care on Care.com, which has a free membership where you can search nannies and babysitters.

5. Get professional help

Professional help can range from hiring a coach, seeking counseling, group therapy, psychiatric care, or other trained experts that provide the help you need.

Individual therapy has proven to improve one’s mental health, relationships, quality of life, or other measures of wellbeing.

Working one-on-one with a professional allows you to receive their undivided attention throughout each session and personalized care and focused treatment for the duration of your relationship. You also get to set the pace for your conversations and your overall progress. Plus, you have some flexibility with scheduling appointments, based on just your therapist’s and your calendar. And you may be able to develop a stronger connection with your therapist, given the privacy of individual therapy.

If you are not sure if counseling is right for you, consider the advice of Heidi Vanderwerff, licensed independent clinical social worker, and co-owner of  Kennedy Counseling Collective in Washington, D.C.:

“You should consider counseling if you aren’t functioning normally and all the self-care items that used to work for you, are no longer working,” Vanderwerff says. “If you aren’t sleeping well, feeling hopeless, noticing an increase in anger, and don’t have your usual amount of energy, counseling can provide new ways of viewing the things going on in your life, refresh self-care routines, and heal from any old hurts.”

To find a counselor near you

  • Ask a friend for a recommendation
  • A local listing near you, including Yelp, Google and Psychologytoday.com
  • Call a local counseling center
  • Request a referral from your doctor, or through your health insurance
  • Search for a therapist you can see virtually

Read our list of best online therapy sites, No. 1 of which is BetterHelp, based on my own experience with the app, as well as having the lowest fees, high scrutiny of counselors (only 15% of counselors who apply to BetterHelp are accepted), very low costs, and most transparent process for customer service. Check out BetterHelp now >>Online therapy sites will also match you with a therapist. BetterHelp allows you to browse their therapist directory, or fill out criteria like gender, religion, sexual orientation, race and specialty focus areas, such as depression, trauma, divorce, family relationships, sexual abuse or eating disorders.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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