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8 Strategies to Deal with Anxiety During Pregnancy

 

With all the changes going on in your body and in your world, experiencing anxiety during pregnancy is a common complaint. To better understand how to cope with anxiety, it helps to know the difference between anxiety and stress. Stress is a more long-term situation that causes feelings of frustration, anger or nervousness. Anxiety is characterized by fear, and is more likely a short-term situation. If you have experienced a panic attack, then you understand the crucial difference between stress and fear. Since the two feelings are different, it helps to have remedies that are specifically targeted for coping with anxiety.

Following are 8 tactics for dealing with anxiety:

1. Talk It Out

Sometimes it helps to actually voice your fears aloud, to your spouse, a friend or a family member. Or, you may prefer to confide in a journal. Talking out your fears helps you to gain perspective on the situation. It helps you assess how much of your fear is real, and how much is just your imagination.

2. Listen to Music

Music has a wonderful calming effect on your spirit and can really boost your mood. Keep your favorite playlist handy at work or at home, and turn it on whenever you begin to feel panicky.

3. Go for a Walk

Sometimes the best cure for anxiety is to remove yourself from your current situation, and go for a short walk. The change in atmosphere and the physical activity can work together to calm you down.

4. Laugh

Laughter is a good remedy for acute anxiety, as it helps you immediately gain perspective on your situation. Keep a file of jokes and funny pictures on your computer, have a few comedies ready to pop into your DVD player, or call a friend who makes you laugh.

5. Breathe

The "flight or fight" response you experience during anxiety causes you to breathe rapidly and shallowly, which can lead to hyperventilation. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and slowly. This calms your body's biological response to fear and allows you to gain control of your emotions.

6. Take a Nap

If you are having trouble sleeping, a common complaint during pregnancy, you may be more prone to anxiety simply because you are tired. If you can possibly gain more rest during the day, by all means, take a nap.

7. Practice Prayer or Meditation

The act of prayer or meditation can slow your body's biological response to fear and helps you to react more calmly to the situation. People who regularly pray or meditate often report fewer instances of anxiety simply, because they feel more connected to their spiritual selves.

8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, is a controlled exercise in which you tense and relax the muscle groups in your body. Because PMR forces you to focus on a physical activity and release conscious thought, it is good for managing acute panic attacks.  PMR triggers a physiological relaxation response in your body, which helps calm the physical symptoms of anxiety.

It is quite normal to experience some kind of anxiety during pregnancy. As you deal with your fears, it helps to know a few strategies for dealing with anxiety in advance, so you can cope with your feelings more easily.

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Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.

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