As your belly grows, you may discover that your stress levels are also increasing. Now is the time to move stress on with these simple natural stress relief strategies for pregnancy.
You may be juggling working, planning the birth, renovating the nursery, attending what seems like one thousand medical appointments, maintaining personal relationships, caring for other children and beginning to panic about where this baby is supposed to come out of! Alongside of this is your ultimate job – growing a human being.
According to Psychologytoday.com, stress can present in a number of ways; physical, emotional and behavioural. You may experience headaches, back/neck pain, sleep problems or an upset stomach. While Ariadna Cymet Lanski, a clinical psychologist with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, explains at FitPregnancy.com that mixed-feelings, mood swings and anxiety are a common part of pregnancy, if you begin to feel overwhelmed by emotion and increasingly worried or anxious, it may be time to check in with your health professional.
Effects of Stress
A 2009 study1 conducted by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health revealed a link between the stress levels of a pregnant woman and the developing baby. Elevated levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) may result in a shorter pregnancy and potentially affect the baby’s development. But don’t let this stress you! We reveal 6 simple things you can do;
Advice from others reminding you to, ‘Put your feet up’ and ‘Get some rest now as you won’t be able to once the baby arrives’ are about as useful as telling a frog it shouldn’t jump.
Seeking a stress-free environment and ‘being’ a stress-free home for your baby is not always so simple. Your usual stress relief strategies such as drinking or socialising until dawn may no longer suit. Rather than overhauling your whole approach and declaring that you must finish work right now, try integrating these simple stress-relief strategies at various points throughout your day.
1. Early Morning: Get Your Yoga On
The best time of day to practice yoga is early mornings. While you are valuing every second of sleep you can get, try to including a short ten-minute sequence into your morning routine.
Yoga not only benefits you physically by strengthening and stretching the body and relieving the discomfort associated with pregnancy, it also benefits you spiritually by giving you a space where you can connect with your unborn baby through breath. Connecting with your breath is also an important part of managing labour.
2. Take 5 On-Route: Self-guided Meditation
Whether you are travelling to work or out and about, make time to slow down. In the haste of your preparations it is important that you recognise the joy of the journey. Reawaken your senses by committing to five minutes of self-guided mediation a day. This simple 5 Senses Meditation from Russ Harris of Actmadesimple.com can be done any time you notice yourself getting caught up in your thoughts.
1. Pause for a moment.
2. Look around and notice five things that you can see.
3. Listen carefully and notice five things that you can hear.
4. Notice five things that you can feel in contact with your body (for example, your watch against your wrist, your trousers against your legs, the air on your face, your feet upon the floor, your back against the chair).
5. Finally, do all of the above simultaneously.
3. At Your Destination: Create Calm
There has never been a more important reason to create a calm work, home and personal space for yourself and your baby.
Surround yourself with positive people. Look at beautiful things such as the ocean, mountains or a sunset. Choose to involve yourself with activities that make you happy such as gardening (provided you can safely get down there!), walking (whatever pace you can manage) and socialising with friends (drinking the best quality non-alcoholic wine you can find!).
4. Afternoon: Float Your Fears Away
Pregnant or not, keeping active is one of the best forms of stress-relief. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day is recommended and provides a wealth of benefits. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise not only decreases tension, it is known to fight fatigue, elevate your mood, improve sleep, and lift your self-esteem. Bonus!
Swimming is a relaxing and organic way to introduce yourself to your baby. Your baby is also immersed in water and other delights, so it is a natural way to connect with your baby before he or she is born.
5. Evening: Positive Choices
While cooking a three course meal may not be on the menu after a long day at work, it is important that you make time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals. Robyn Youkilis’ book, Go With Your Gut, will have you doing just that and trusting your own food choices in no time.
It is important to nourish yourself and your digestive system. Making positive choices at meal times will not only improve your own energy levels but will ensure your baby is receiving essential nutrients for optimal health.
6. Late Night Escapades: Know Your Limits
‘Hitting the sack’ early will give you the best chance of quality sleep. While this doesn’t guarantee continuous sleep, it definitely improves your chances. In the middle of the night amidst restlessness, breathing difficulties, back aches and rib pokes you may find your mind thinking about all of the things you have to prepare before your baby arrives. Stop. Know your limits. There are only so many things that you can control. Learn to accept this and surrender to those things that are beyond your control.
To flip your thoughts and channel positivity, try reading through this list of 50 things you CAN control. By the time you finish reading the list, hopefully you will be asleep again!
Making time to care for yourself is essential at this time. Unfortunately, the to-do list goes on but thankfully, your stress doesn’t have to. When stress saunters into your space, simply scroll through these suggestions, which will have you feeling centred and stress-free in no time.