International Stress Awareness Day

Since it’s International Stress Awareness Day we thought we’d share some top tips on how to cope with stress during your pregnancy.

Most people suffer from worry or stress at some point during their pregnancy.  Life changing events such as job loss, bereavement or separation, as well as coping with everyday life, can leave you feeling anxious.

When you’re stressed your body goes into “flight or fight” mode, sending out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones.  Short term this will not harm your baby, but if you suffer from prolonged periods of stress you can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight for your baby.

So, it makes sense to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health during pregnancy. Try to relax whenever you can but if you’re overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety it’s sensible to seek medical help.

Here are our top tips on how to relax in pregnancy:

Try Complementary Therapies

Try a pregnancy massage to soothe your stress (make sure it’s after the first three months of pregnancy though). Or reflexology which will target pressure points in your body through reflex points on your feet.

Gently Exercise

Exercising releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, which can lift your spirits and relax you almost immediately. It’s perfectly safe to do many types of exercise. Try swimming, yoga or specific pregnancy exercise routines designed to keep you toned. whilst not putting too much pressure on your body.

Try to build exercise into your daily life. Get up and walk around as often as you can or pop out for fresh air and a walk at lunchtime. A simple walk in the park, or even through the streets close to work, can help with stress.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about knowing directly what is going on inside and outside yourself, moment by moment. It can help you live in the present moment and block out worries (like the endless ‘To Do’ list in your head). Recent studies have shown mindfulness can help ease anxiety, stress, worry or depression in mums-to-bePlus it’s a great way to help you bond and connect with your unborn baby.

The following tips can help you be more mindful in your everyday life:

  • Pay attention to sights, sounds, scents and other sensations around you at a particular time of each day (for example when commuting to work or on your lunch break). Focusing on what you are really experiencing is a great way to help you relax.
  • Take time each day to stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Allow your mind to drift off and concentrate on how your thoughts come and go. Try to name your thoughts and feelings as they arise, and see if you notice any patterns.
  • You could also try mindfulness meditation, focusing on your breathing or the sounds around you. When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back.

The greatest tip of all is to treat yourself.  Meet up with friends, watch a funny movie, read a good book or spoil yourself with a spa or pedicure. Laughter is one of the body’s best ways to relax – so make sure you get plenty of it in the months ahead.