Pregnancy can be stressful. While some pregnant people feel calm throughout all three trimesters, others are not as lucky. If you’re like me, struggling to relax and feeling the physical symptoms of stress, you may be wondering what steps to reduce stress while pregnant you can take.
Stress can make us feel horrible in general. It can cause headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and more. During pregnancy, stress can lead to the same symptoms that may be written off as common pregnancy ailments. But you don’t have to accept this suffering. There are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress and the symptoms that come with it.
Step 1: Find Your Triggers
There are many factors that can lead to moderate and high levels of stress like work, family, finances, environment, grief, food, and big life changes such as pregnancy.
Identifying where your stress is coming from is key to undoing it and reducing stress while pregnant. Sit down, make a list of everything that’s on your mind. Reflect on your environment, relationships, and career. What is making you feel anxious?
Step 2: Practice Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress will not go away on its own. Instead, it will fester and increase the severity of symptoms over time.
So, it’s important to practice stress reduction techniques like mindfulness and self-care. That’s why I created my 5 Day Pregnancy De-Stress Challenge. Every day starting October 18, participants will receive a self-care activity that will let them indulge in relaxation and ease pregnancy discomforts from stress (It’s not too late to sign up! Click here to join or sign up below).
Step 3: Make a Plan
Incorporating stress reduction techniques and self-care will help minimize and cope with symptoms of stress. However, the root of the issue (your stress trigger) may still exist. Perhaps your trigger is a situation that isn’t easily fixed or is long-term. That’s okay. It’s natural to be overwhelmed. But, you can still make a plan either with your partner, family, health coach, care provider, etc to take actionable steps for coping or working toward solving what’s causing your stress.
So, here it is – three steps to reduce stress while pregnant. De-stressing isn’t always easy and doesn’t happen overnight. But learning to put your well-being first, can make a difference.
If your stress leads to feelings of depression or severe anxiety, it’s never too late to consult a maternal mental health professional for help.
Isolation can be a real trigger for depression, especially since so many of us are now practicing social distancing and self quarantine because of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Pregnant and new moms, in particular, can be at-risk of prenatal and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). Just because we’re stuck home, doesn’t mean we have to do it all alone!
While things will return to normal eventually, here are five things you can do today to help prevent isolation depression and anxiety.
1. Virtual Support
Many birth workers and care providers are adapting to the current situation by providing virtual support via web chat. There are apps that provide chat and over-the-phone access to therapists. You can look for a pregnancy or postpartum support group online, like this one from The Nesting Place.
Birth and postpartum doulas are also offering online care. I’m still able to chat with clients, show them newborn care basics, help with lactation, and provide emotional support and encouragement. If you’re interested in getting a postpartum doula virtually, contact me.
You can also talk to friends and family members via Skype, Facetime, Facebook chat, or on the phone to avoid feeling alone.
2. Get Some Fresh Air
If you’re able, sit outside in your backyard or balcony for a while. Get some fresh air and Vitamin D. Just getting outside, without running into other people, can be so refreshing and uplifting. If you live in an apartment and can’t leave, but the weather isn’t too chilly, try opening the windows for a little while. Let in the sunshine. Take in its warmth for a moment. Nature can offer some relief.
Get those endorphins pumping! If you’re pregnant or in postpartum and cleared for gentle exercise, stream some prenatal workouts on YouTube. Prenatal yoga and meditation can be calming. You don’t have to exercise all day, but even twenty minutes can make a big difference in how we feel. If you’re new to yoga, check out this YouTube workout for beginners.
Reading is a total immersive experience that’s good for your brain! Stories can transport you out of your current environment. According to a study by Emory University, reading activates neurons in the brain that create a sensation of not just reading about the action of the book, but experiencing the sensations it is describing. You are figuratively and biologically put in the shoes of another. This is called grounded cognition.
Reading can also help to calm the mind and help it focus if you’re feeling anxious.
5. Find and List Resources
Sometimes just being prepared helps us feel more calm and in control. Do some research on local and other online resources you may want to use during this time like restaurants that are still doing delivery, your care providers’ emergency numbers and assistance programs in your area. You don’t have to use any of these if you don’t need to, but having a list of people to call may help you feel more connected. Many of us are isolated at this moment. It’s important to remember that there are networks of people in every community that are still out there to help you.
Sending you love through this difficult time!