I am 31 weeks pregnant…31 weeks! This second pregnancy is flying by and I am happy to tell you that since my very open and honest post about how I REALLY feel about this pregnancy, things have gone smoothly. My anxiety has been mostly kept at bay, and thanks to a busy mom/blogger life I haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on what could go wrong. Also, there is just a sense of peace and calm that tends to wash over me during the second trimester. It was the same with Luna, and I must say, it’s heavenly. It’s what I imagine life would be like inside the mind of someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety/panic attacks.
Of course, now, I’m in the third trimester, and while I am more calm than I normally would be, the anxiety is trying is hardest to sneak it’s way back into my life. Anxiety is an ego maniac and will do anything to get back into the limelight. Lately, my focus has been on the present, the “now”, and I am constantly reminding myself that the anxiety comes from either reliving the past or worrying about the future. Neither of which are “real”. What’s real, is now, this moment. In this moment, everything is fine. In fact, it’s better than fine. Anxiety doesn’t not belong in the present moment, ever. (Can you tell I’ve been reading The Power of Now and listening to The Lively Show podcast?) #hippielife
Through years of searching my soul for answers, reading books for tips, talking to my therapist for guided help and endless amounts of internet research, I feel as if I am finally learning how to cope and live a life of less anxiety. I have so many of you message me and ask for help when it comes to coping with your anxiety and while there is no magic cure or right answer to that question, I do yearn to help you to the best of my abilities. After all, that’s why I began Positively Panicked in the first place! To be frank, I find it hard to just list every single thing that could possible help with being anxious, so today’s post will focus more on anxiety during pregnancy, but I plan to make this a series, and will continue to share coping strategies and tips for all sorts of situations! Just be sure to leave any questions you may have about your own situation in the comments or email or however you want to reach me.
Prenatal yoga and mediation.
You guys. I’ve always enjoyed yoga, but it’s never been my go-to workout. I typically enjoy a high-energy, super-intense, Shaun T screaming at you, sweat-your-ass-off type of workout. However, while reviewing several “prenatal exercise classes” in Nashville for The Nashville Mom blog, I had the pleasure of taking a prenatal yoga class at Blooma Nashville. This class changed me. It spoke to me in a way that no other yoga or exercise class has ever spoke to me. There is something so magical about sitting in that cozy room that smells so yummy, surrounded by only pregnant women. We talk about our babies, our due dates, our needs, our desires and our pains. The teacher (all of which have been phenomenal) then lead us in routine that feels more like spiritual dance or peaceful mediation than a workout. I never want these classes to end. I leave every single class not only feeling calm and at peace with the world, but totally ready to give birth. The tips the teachers give, the breathing exercises, the warm tea, the calmness of the class, etc…it ALL helps tremendously with my anxiety.
Rest and Relaxation
I struggle with R&R, always have. I feel guilty for resting and have always enjoyed being busy and on-the-move. However, after years of being sick, exhausted and riddled with panic attacks, I learned that actually taking a break, getting real rest (and enough sleep!) are vital to a healthy life. Not only does it keep you physically healthy, but mentally. The difference a good night’s sleep and a day of rest makes on my mood and anxiety is unreal. I am finding it harder and harder to get enough sleep during this pregnancy, so I’ve got to allow time to relax throughout the day. I’m allowing myself a nap when I need it (and it’s possible), and not beating myself about it. After all, growing a human can be exhausting.
Tea and candles
I am a coffee lover. Actually, I feel like ‘lover’ isn’t a strong enough description. Coffee is my vice and my lifeline. Whenever I feel particularly angry, stressed, sad, upset, tired, whatever…I want a magical cup of coffee. However, I try not to reach for more than one cup while pregnant…okay two cups, whatever. I have learned to switch to an herbal tea these days and I am really enjoying the calming effects. Many herbal teas (such as chamomile) actually bring your stress hormone levels back to normal. I tend to enjoy a cup right before bed and right after yoga. Sooooo relaxing and calming.
What goes better with a warm mug of tea than a few lit candles??? I have been slightly obsessed with lighting candles during this pregnancy. The candlelight actually calms both the mind and the body, which explains why they are often lit in yoga classes. It can help you stretch deeper and concentrated better. Combining tea and candles is a fantastic way to unwind at the end of a long day.
Obviously, breathing techniques are highly recommended and useful when having a baby, but learning to take deep breaths and focus on your breathing can drop your anxiety levels and help a panic attack quickly. There are an endless amount of breathing techniques to be found online (hello, Google and Pinterest). There’s even apps that teach and help you focus on breathing. So what can learning how to breathe properly do?? Let’s see it can decrease anxiety and depression, increase happiness, improve sleep, strengthen ability to regulate emotions, improve trauma symptoms, reduce cravings and addictions, regulate cortisol levels (the stress hormone), strengthen immunity and reduce pain. So, yeah, breathing is like, really important.
I think you know by now that exercise makes you happy (Thanks Elle Woods!), but it does a heck of a lot more and is so so so beneficial when it comes to pregnancy and anxiety. Let’s mention a few benefits that are pregnancy specific first….being active helps aches and pains, regulates weight gain, relieves constipation, gives you more energy, you’ll “bounce back” faster, and it helps you relax. Exercise calms your anxiety, in fact just being active at all can greatly diminish anxiety. Lots of studies even show that exercise can have the same benefits as anxiety medication. It’s all natural and effective. It’s beneficial to you, your baby and your mind. Trust me.
Mental healthy is as important as your physical healthy, especially during pregnancy. Take care of yourselves, make healthy choices and talk to your doctor when any problem arises. Having a baby is stressful for so many reasons. Everyone experiences pregnancy and delivery differently and no one should feel ashamed for any anxiety, depressions or mental issues they may be struggling with, so please know you aren’t alone and there’s help available.
If you’ve got any tips of your own to share, please do! I love hearing from you!