How to deal with Stress and Anxiety in Pregnancy

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With the pressure of social platforms wanting us to be something , our lives demanding the most from us, kids, family , friends , drama and the daily need to feel adequate, I don’t think anyone out there can say they are not stressed. While I can sit here and tell you lies and say I have the secret to “eliminate” stress , I won’t . Because this page is a no bullshit page . I’m here to share my story and impart , not wisdom , but experience . You take from it what you find can be useful to you . 

I lost my father at a young age. I didn’t really grieve or mourn , because I never had a good memory of him . He was abusive. He had his own issues and he wasn’t the kind of person to ask for help or accept help. Therapy at the time was for the crazies. The embarrassment from admitting a family member is going to therapy outweighed the benefit and people just weren’t accepting of it at all. Having been raised in this kind of environment, I was a young teen who was morbidly stressed , severely underweight and a pro at masking how I truly felt . That’s what I was taught to do . Buck up , stand straight , don’t cry and stop being a p*ssy. 

Now I’m 29 years old and I’ve become my own therapist . Yes that’s right. I went to therapy as soon as I moved away from my parents (you should have seen the lady at the front desk of my psychiatrist’s office when she got a 15 year old girl walk in to her office, asking to spend her entire pay check from a minimum wage cashier’s job on her mental health) . I always knew I had to uncondition my brain from what it has learned over the years and recondition it to be healthier , happier , and more manageable. After all our thoughts are our worst enemies. And if you walk around being self deprecating , you’re going to trip yourself up on every path you take . 

Wow, I really got deep there. Let’s get to it . Here are a few things I found helpful that I’ve learned over the years (from both therapy and hundreds of self-help books) 

Get Space

It’s one of those things that sounds simple but actually in the heat of the moment , it’s our natural instinct to react to things happening rather than stop and take a deep breath . Reacting  can be impulsive , quick and uncontrollable. You end up making a situation worse and not using your better judgement.

There really is a benefit to breathing. S-D-B . That’s : Stop . Distance , Breathe . You can at least guarantee that you will react better to any situation once you have taken out the “reactive” part and inserted a more calm and relaxed approach.

Communicate

It was in-drilled in me that when shit hits the fan and I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed, that “letting things blow over” is the correct way to deal with that kind of stress. One thing my therapist told me was : nothing goes away . If you have built up anger or resentment towards a situation , hiding it and not speaking about it in an attempt to let it just “go away” is probably the worst and least efficient thing you can do . Everything comes back and it comes back ten times harder . So the next time something ticks you off , you’ll find yourself overreacting with about 5 times more energy because you’ve held in those 5 things that pissed you off last week.

If you have a trust worthy confidant , family member or friend, or if you are seeing a therapist , TALK. Talk as much as you can about the situation and how it made you feel. However if you’re the kind that finds it hard to open up , then a good solution you can explore is journaling. The great thing about journaling is no one will judge you , no one will speak back to you or take away your freedom in how you feel . If you can master self expression , you can unload buckets of agonising stress out into thin air and slowly find peace and calm .

The one thing that helped m not completely lose it when I was dealing with post traumatic stress from my childhood was my nature. I naturally always found it easy to “unload” . I loved writing but I also loved speaking and externalising . That’s what drove me to go to therapy so will-fully and eagerly without hesitation at 15 years old.

YOU TIME

I learned a lot of things over the years but there’s one thing that was reiterated to me continuously and now even more in my pregnancy.  It’s that people will relentlessly try to make excuses as to why they can’t find time to be alone. I found this mostly in moms and especially new moms. If you tell them to go and enjoy some “me time” , kick their feet up , have a 30 minute break alone with their thoughts and silence the noise around. Journal, write down some goals, take a walk . .. moms will chuckle and brush it off like it’s something near impossible. And then it’s excuses excuses. “I can’t leave the baby alone she will wale”, or “I’ll do it when she gets a little older” or “I don’t have time for that”. So much energy goes into proving that it’s just not possible . But it is. I’ll tell you how and what worked for me : 

In the morning , I have replaced picking up my phone first thing and going on instagram for an hour with going downstairs, making a coffee and sitting by myself on the couch taking loud deep breaths. Sometimes I take my journal with me and write down what I envision for my day . 

Another thing that helps is exercising first thing in the morning. Have your partner help with the baby for just an hour , and take that time to do 30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of stretching and deep breaths and then 20 minutes of self reflection and writing down goals. 

I promise you , you can do it. You have to make a conscious effort at delegating and expressing to your partner how important it is for you to have a small part of the morning to yourself . 

DELEGATE DELEGATE DELEGATE 

This little piece of advice is my favourite. Because its what keeps my relationship with my husband healthy . We’re both quite good at voicing when we need help and god knows we have no problem asking for help. 

If you just stop and think to yourself : what’s my circle of support ? Who’s in it ? And where are they ? Find those people and if they’re close to you , and give them jobs. You have to learn to let go of your controlling side and entrust others in helping you. If you’re the kind of person who thinks that if you didn’t do it then it won’t be done right, then prepare for a lifetime of inefficiency . 

I listened to a podcast the other day and the guest was a billionaire , a guy who started from nothing and built an empire. You might know who I’m talking about . It’s the owner of Amazon. He was asked by the host, “what do you think was the most important thing you did that really helped you get to where you are now?” His answer? DELEGATING. Trusting his employees and training them to spread the workload efficiently. A one man show can only take you so far. You NEED to know your energy is pure gold and you can’t spread yourself thin because you will run yourself dry.

THE SELF HELP PARADIGM

In our day we get a lot of chances for education . We are so lucky that we’re in an era of time where everything is available to us , we just have to want it and grasp it. Simple replacements are the best replacements . When you find yourself listening to the radio (which 90% of the time is a platform that either delivers a load of bad news or a repetitive outlet for cheesy pop songs and unintelligent conversations that don’t benefit your brain in any way) , make the switch ti something more valuable . I honestly can say listening to audiobooks and self help podcasts changed my life.

Its like food for the brain. And there’s nothing like word food . When you listen to a song you can easily drift away and zone out. Whereas with words, you’re likely to be interpreting them , and your brain is taking in the definition and architecture of a sentence which means there is less capacity for you to be stressing about anything else AND you’re immersion in the meaning of the message is developing your abilities so you can , like I did , become your own therapist.

Make it your goal to read this and really understand the importance of these 5 things . Start today by doing one of these 5 things. And then do two tomorrow . And then once you’ve gotten a rhythm , reflect back and compare your mindset to the time before you read this post . Are you feeling better? Do you feel a change ? Yes? No? Why yes or why no?

Analysing your mindset is a gift we were given . Animals can’t do that , no other being on this earth can . But we can . So we need to empower ourselves to realise that we’re different and we are capable of change .

Xoxo