Pregnancy brings with it its own set of stresses, both for your body and your mind. But there are some easy, simple (and inexpensive) things you can do to help relieve stress.
Deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to ease stress, and yet one that is most often overlooked. Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in a calm space and focus simply on deep inhales and long exhales. Dim the lights and put on some soft music if that helps you focus, but even a few deep, slow breaths in the middle of a stressful period can do a lot to make you feel better. Try it!
Regular moderate exercise might be just what you need to help calm down. Exercise releases endorphins, which can lower stress. It can also take your mind off of whatever has you concerned and it can help you sleep if stress is keeping you up at night. Provided you have the thumbs up from your health-care provider, try a nice walk, a prenatal yoga class, a swim in a public pool or an easy ride on your stationary bike at home.
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Part of what makes pregnancy stressful is trying to imagine what might be coming. You may hear horror stories about birth or the early days of motherhood from friends and family (and sometimes strangers) that can be overwhelming. Try to tune out the messages that you don’t find helpful, and find some particularly trustworthy friends or some reputable books or websites that you trust and get your facts from them instead. Or, better yet: ask your health-care provider for the straight goods—they will be able to answer the questions that might be keeping you up at night.
Put Your Feet Up
It’s important to have lots of periods of rest during pregnancy, and part of this should literally include putting your feet up. Elevating your legs and feet can reduce swelling, relieve back pain and leg cramps and potentially stave off varicose veins—all of which are stressful symptoms of pregnancy.
Give Yourself a Break
We mean this in the literal and figurative sense. Regularly give yourself time to just sit and decompress after a long day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your to-do list, give yourself permission to have a night off or a day off, and don’t force yourself to check things off your list until you’re feeling a bit more relaxed—you’ll be much more productive at that point anyway! And don’t be hard on yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed! You’re experiencing a lot change, and trying to prepare for something you’ve never experienced before—it’s perfectly natural to experience stress during pregnancy.