Pregnancy can be both a wonderfully exciting and stressful time. If you are finding it more the latter, therapist Sophie Harris shares six way you can calm pregnancy anxiety.
For many people, pregnancy is an exciting time of decorating nurseries, reading parenting books, and daydreaming about what life will be like with a new addition to your family. Although this can be a wonderful experience, it is simultaneously one that can become very stressful.
Not only does the to-do list seem endless, but mothers are also experiencing hormonal and physical shifts that may cause their anxiety levels to spike.
In order to manage this anxiety, it is important that expecting mothers do all that they can to help them calm down, find ease, and centre themselves. The following six way to calm pregnancy anxiety can help expecting anxious mothers do just that.
One of the most beneficial practices that anyone with anxiety, pregnant or not, can do is incorporate mindfulness into their daily life.
Mindfulness is an overarching umbrella of different techniques that may be useful, but essentially all of these practices focus on bringing oneself to the present moment.
Ways to tune into the present moment include noticing your bodily sensations, tuning into your breath, and dropping into meditation.
Many people bring affirmations into their mindfulness practices which can be extremely beneficial as well. Affirmations are statements that focus on the “I” and bring about calm by repeating thoughts such as, “I am healthy. I am calm. I am safe.” There are many affirmations that can be found online to help with anxiety, or you can feel free to make up your own affirmations that resonate the most with you.
Mindful movement can also be a beneficial way to bring more calm to your nervous system.
Rhythmic movement such as dancing, walking, or yoga practice can help your body work through the anxiety that is being stored within it.
Be Diligent with the Bare Necessities
When you are in a stressful situation, one of the quickest things to go is your ability to give your body the self care that it requires. This isn’t just face masks and the bubble baths. This is ensuring that you get enough sleep every night, are eating nourishing meals, and are regularly moving your body. Even if traditional forms of exercise are difficult at this time, something simple like a walk can do wonders for your mind.
With all of the stressors and items on your to-do list, sleep may be one of the last things on your mind, but making sure that your body is taken care of gives it the proper functioning it needs in order to support your mental health as well. Not to mention, the more you take care of your body, the more you are also taking care of that baby.
Designate Time to Worry
When you are experiencing anxiety, it is extremely frustrating because it feels like the anxious thoughts are on a never ending loop.
One of the reasons you are having difficulty sleeping at night is because your brain is having a constant dialogue about what items there are left to buy before the baby comes, what will happen if you go into labour early, or what if something doesn't go to plan.
However, a useful trick is designating a specific time during your day that is meant solely to worry about those things. It can be 10 minutes or 20, but it will be very helpful when those anxious thoughts come up, to gently remind yourself that you can set it aside to worry about later.
Observe Your Anxiety
One of the most useful things that you can do with your anxiety is to get to know it better.
Do your best to, without judgment, observe what anxiety symptoms you feel in your body. Do you start to get sweaty? Does your pulse quicken? See if you can notice if there are certain habits that may trigger this anxiety. Does it have to do with watching the news every morning? Sleeping with your phone close to your bed? Searching things on the internet? The more curious you can become about your anxiety and the better you get to understand it, the more manageable and controllable it will seem. Also be sure to notice if any practices can help alleviate your anxiety. Does going for a walk help? Calling a friend? Taking a nap?
Remember these things and return back to them, because they will be your friends along this pregnancy journey.
Rely on Your Social Circle
Anxiety can be an overwhelming and sometimes shameful feeling, especially when you are pregnant and don’t want to worry the people around you who care about you.
But these people who care about you are also good people to lean on and vent to about what you are experiencing. Do not be afraid to ask for support from them.
If your support system is limited, be sure to search for some online support systems. There are many online support groups for expectant mums that can provide that listening ear that can be so beneficial. The more we bottle up our feelings of anxiety, the more difficult it can be to heal from them.
Do be honest with yourself, and seek professional help if it is necessary. While all of the above tools can alleviate anxiety, none of them are likely to address your anxiety as skilfully as a medical professional would.
Therapists can provide valuable talk therapy and coping skills that can get to the root of your anxiety and support you throughout the entire pregnancy process. You can access support either via a therapist, or through your local NHS services.
All in all, pregnancy is a wonderful and stressful time. If you are feeling heightened levels of anxiety you are not alone, and there are many ways you can feel better. Some days may feel overwhelming, and on those days just do your best to breathe through it and give yourself grace. However, on days where you feel ready to address this anxiety, you can always return back to this article and remind yourself of different strategies you can use to help you feel better. You can do this! Stay strong and be gentle with yourself.
Sophie Harris is a pregnancy and postnatal therapist and coach and with 15 year experience in mental health services, she now focuses her work on supporting new and expectant mums. She aims to normalise motherhood's tough times, help mums feel better, and celebrate being a mother. She believes that supporting and valuing the role of a mother should be made a priority to help build a happier and healthier society.
For more information on the services offered by Sophie visit Looking After Mum.
Sophie also runs an online course to help mums manage worry and anxiety during pregnancy. This course will help you to feel calm, content, and able to deal with anxiety as it arises; through the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy skills.
For more information visit the website here and Use the code NATALACTIVE to receive 25% off.
For more information on the services offered on the NHS, visit https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/nhs-talking-therapies/