Stress is a part of life, meaning there’s no sure-fire way to eliminate it completely. The idea is to make it manageable; to relegate tension and worry to being a part of our lives and not an overwhelming factor of our existence. This is especially true during pregnancy, when changes to the body, fluctuating hormones and extreme anticipation can really increase anxiety levels.
Read on to learn about a few simple ways to cope with stress when you’re expecting.
Start Exercising Early On
By starting an exercise routine early in your pregnancy you’ll be laying a great foundation for reducing stress. Exercise releases powerful endorphins and improves blood circulation. Even the act of taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on your physical wellbeing can be very therapeutic.
Of course exercise also has the added benefit of helping avoid excess weight gain, and we’re not talking about starting a rigorous routine. Try enrolling in a gentle exercise class like yoga or aqua aerobics. Classes offer the opportunity to meet other moms-to-be.
You can also schedule time on your calendar (and stick to it!) for swimming, walking or gentle hiking. Sometimes a morning stroll or evening loop around the block is enough to really clear your head.
Focus on Diet
If you haven’t already, now is the time to focus on what you’re using to fuel your body. This includes not only choosing healthy foods and snacks for pregnancy, but dedicating time each day for meal preparation and sitting down to enjoy it. There’s nothing more stressful than having to eat and run- change this habit during pregnancy and you’ll see your stress levels go down.
You may not be able to cut back on work or take time off just yet, but you can start reducing your additional obligations. This is your time to focus on yourself, to really indulge and pamper yourself. You can’t do that if you’re constantly running from point A to point B.
You don’t have to be the president of your book club, or be in charge of the churches annual fundraiser. Allow yourself to cut back, even if you’ll only be using the extra time to sit on the couch. Or hey, you can use this time to make it to the gym for your yoga class!
Sleep is healing, rejuvenating and detoxifying. During pregnancy, especially the first trimester, your body is going to want more of it. Give in to this urge, don’t fight it. Schedule in time for extra naps, go to bed early, or change your work schedule to come in an hour later. Stress builds so much more quickly in individuals who haven’t had enough rest. Taking the time to recharge your batteries can also help with mood swings.
Some companies are stricter than others in terms of when and where the work is completed. If at all possible, it’s great to be able to reduce your hours during pregnancy. If that’s not possible, look into a reduced work load or flexible arrangement.
When it comes time for maternity leave, by all means do take those additional 30 days before baby is born. This gives you time to really relax, get things together and stress much less before the big day.
Author bio: Sonia Moran is a lactation consultant and mother of two active boys. She enjoys hiking, cycling, swimming and yoga. She is also a freelance writer and contributes to parenting sites such as www.amoralia.com.