Pregnancy, all on its own, can be stressful. We feel it in our bodies as it changes to accommodate a new life. The stress also weighs on us emotionally and affects our mental health, too.
When we add other factors from our life – even the very best things like other children, family and friends, as well as jobs we love or hobbies we enjoy – our full life can create stressors that can be detrimental to our health.
Shortly before my first daughter’s first birthday, we decided to relocate our family to a new city. My partner had started a new job, and my daughter and I stayed behind. I continued in my job, while I searched for a new one and managed the sale of our home.
At the time, it felt like a manageable level of stress. That was until life happened – I learned I was pregnant for the second time (here’s more on my story).
In the days that followed, my stress levels skyrocketed. I needed to stay healthy for me and my daughters and that meant I had to do a better job of managing the stress in my life.
If things are getting hectic at work or in your life, take time to destress. Here are 10 natural remedies that will keep you healthy in mind, body and spirit throughout your pregnancy:
Manage your commitments
At some point you’ll have to share your baby news with your boss. If you aren’t ready to do so, you’ll want to manage your commitments. Pregnancy is often a time when women begin to experience unconscious bias that can impact their long-term career path. So, if there was ever a time to under commit and over deliver it’s now.
Managing your commitment doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything. Instead, you want to be sure you’re saying yes to things that you can realistically deliver by the set due date. What’s more, you want to take on those things that will best leverage and showcase the value you bring to your team.
Write out your task list
From setting up your registry to researching the best car seats and more, there’s a lot to do before baby’s arrival. And that’s on top of everything else you’ve got going on at work. It’s likely you’ve got a list of to dos that are constantly running through your mind. No surprise, then, your sleep is suffering.
The solution? Get your thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper or in a bullet journal or into Evernote, or whatever method will work best for you. Here’s a tip: keep a notebook and pen by your bedside so as new ideas or tasks pop into your head, you can write it down.
Now that you have a list of tasks to get to, your next step will be to get organized so you can get it all done. Take time to schedule out key tasks in your calendar, so you dedicate time to accomplish each one. You’ll also want to add appointments, project deadlines, birthing class sessions, team meetings and more to your calendar, so you can stay on top of it all. Be sure to add the events your partner will need to attend to their calendar, too.
You’ll also want to take time to begin to plan your maternity leave. This way you’ll be prepared to hand-over your work to your colleagues or manager when the time comes, and you can leave work confident you’ve done your best.
Take microbreaks in your day
Want a break from the stress you’re feeling? Then, actually take a break. Science continues to show us that the best way to stay focused, more productive and happier is to take breaks throughout the day.
Yet, with everything on your plate, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take an extended time out of your workday. So, look for brief moments of time when you can stop what you’re doing. As your computer comes to life in the morning, close your eyes and do nothing for a moment or two. Before leaving the bathroom stall, take a five deep breaths before opening the door to wash your hands. Or use your commute time to go completely tech free and zone out into your own thoughts.
Stress and pregnancy are two common disruptors to regular sleep patterns. So, when you’re pregnant and stressed, catching some Z’s is near impossible. Yet, not getting enough sleep will increase stress. Plus, lack of sleep during pregnancy can lead to complications for mom and baby.
All this to say, you gotta get sleep. As early as you can establish a relaxing evening routine that will signal to your brain it’s time for bed. You’ll have to create a routine that works for you. Here are some best practices: set a consistent bedtime, avoid screen time two hours before lights out, turn the lights down low in your home, and take a bath, read a book or find another relaxing activity before you get into bed. You’ll also want to avoid eating heavy or spicy meals and you’ll want to reduce your liquid intake as you near the end of your evening, so you can stay asleep longer.
Exercise is another stress reducer for your body and your mind. It boosts our energy and improves our mood, and often times, can shift our perspective. And during pregnancy, exercise is especially key.
It may not be time to start a new vigorous workout regime, but finding ways to keep your body moving during the day is critical. You can take a few extra steps in your day by visiting the bathroom on the other side of your office floor. Take the flight of stairs instead of the escalator. Or stand up when talking on the phone or checking your social media feeds. Whatever you do, just move. Bonus points if you can move outdoors so you can catch some essential Vitamin D.
Fuel your body with good food
Studies show that stress affects our preference for foods high in fat, sugar or both. It makes sense because these foods allow our brains to forget – at least for a short time – we are stressed. However, fatty and sugary foods have other effects that can increase our stress and deteriorate our health. Those who eat these foods generally sleep less, exercise less and gain more weight, which all can lead to increased stress levels.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathing is the most natural way to relax the body’s response to stress. By just breathing we can decrease our heart rate, reduce blood pressure, equalize breathing and loosen muscle tension. The best part: we breathe all the time without thinking about it.
So, take a moment or two in your day to intentionally and deeply breathe in and out. And, when things are feeling exceptionally stressful, breathe then, too. And, feel the stress melt away.
Ask for help
Too many of us – pregnant or not – think we have to be superwoman. That is, we have to do it all. Guess what? We can’t do it all on our own and that’s especially true when we becoming working mothers. So, get into the habit of identifying where you need help and asking the right people to support you. As you do, be clear what you need help with, but do so understanding that everyone has their own way of doing things.
Taking time out for ourselves every day is critical to reducing our stress and maintaining our physical and mental wellbeing. Yet, taking care of ourselves can mean different things to different people.
It can be meditating, journaling, practicing yoga, or trying acupuncture. All of it have been shown to reduce stress and keep pregnant women healthy in mind, body and spirit. So, find the one – or two or three – that works best for you and get to it.
So there you have it, 10 stress reducers that will keep you sane throughout your pregnancy even when things are hectic at work. Do you have any de-stressing remedies to share with other mamas? Let us know in the comments below.