Getting pregnant changes your life in a variety of ways. There are so many things to consider - from your diet, to the nursery, to maternity leave from work - that it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed at times. In fact, many soon-to-be mums find themselves experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety on occasion.
In this week’s article, we’re going to look at some effective techniques for reducing those stress levels. From regular exercise to relaxation techniques, these simple activities can help you keep those anxiety levels down and make your pregnancy as stress-free as possible.
1) Sharing your Feelings and Concerns
If you’re concerned or worried about something - no matter how large or small - it’s important to share your anxieties and concerns with others. Preparing to have a new baby is an emotional experience and keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Feeling a little overwhelmed - or worried - at times is completely natural.
Share your feelings with your partner, your friends and/or your family. Some mums-to-be find the support provided by prenatal fitness classes - or other classes or meet-up groups made up of women in similar situations - to be extremely beneficial. Spending time with other women going through similar experiences can really help.
One of the most effective natural stress-relievers out there, of course, is exercise. Because exercise increases the production of your brain’s endorphins, and helps boost self-confidence, self-esteem, and improve your overall well-being, it’s a wonderful way to help beat pregnancy-related anxiety and stress. For that reason, you should aim to incorporate a regular exercise routine into your life while pregnant.
Not all forms of exercise are safe to perform during your pregnancy, however. In general, the best kinds of exercise to perform during your pregnancy are low-intensity and don’t involve any strong physical contact. For cardio, activities like swimming, walking, indoor stationary cycling, step machines and low-impact aerobics and pilates are great. Activities to avoid include: contact sports, snowboarding and skiing, horseback riding, and bicycling outdoors. For a more comprehensive look at the kinds of activities to avoid, take a look at our previous article on the topic: http://umamma.ie/blog/staying-safe/
3) Eat Right!
Another important factor when considering how to beat stress is: diet. Ensuring you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is the best way to reduce those stress levels. Not only that, but you need to pay attention to how certain kinds of food and drinks are affecting your moods.
When it comes to stress levels, for example, caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee can have a major impact. If you notice your stress levels are unusually high - or you’re feeling anxious - try cut back on caffeine. Experiment with less caffeine in the mornings and see if this has a positive effect. By monitoring your caffeine intake and your overall mood, you’ll be able to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
The same applies to junk foods, foods high in fat and sugar, and highly processed foods. Are you indulging in fast food a little too often? Do you notice a spike in your stress levels when in the days following? A little experimentation with your diet can help you determine what to include and what to avoid.
4) Relaxation techniques
There are a number of simple, easy-to-perform relaxation techniques that can help you reduce those stress levels. Try out some of these and see what works.
Meditating for even a couple of minutes a day can reduce stress and anxiety significantly. Although there are different approaches to meditation, the most simple approach is as follows: sit down in a comfortable position, in a quiet and calm environment; close your eyes and try to clear your mind; focus on your breathing, and try feel yourself exhaling your stress and anxiety.
Get into a comfortable position in a quiet room or space. Next, visualise a relaxing environment or safe space and imagine you’re there. Take deep, slow breaths, inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth. You should notice yourself getting more relaxed as time goes on.
5) Complementary Therapies
There are a few treatments and therapies out there that can really reduce those stress levels. If you find you’re having trouble easing that anxiety, book yourself in for one of these and see how you feel:
All of these therapies have been shown to relax and rejuvenate, and reduce stress and anxiety. Here at U Mamma, we offer a wide variety of treatments and therapies - to suit every need. Take a look here to find out what we offer: http://umamma.ie/treatments