What does it take to stay in shape during pregnancy? There are tons of articles about physical exercise, but not enough about how to keep emotionally healthy. Pregnancy can be as challenging for the mind as for the body; it’s one of the greatest life changes most women will ever experience and there’s often so much that goes with it—new responsibilities, changes in lifestyle and relationships, and often alterations in career, finances, and living arrangements. The stress can be enormous. So here are a few tips to help you stay emotionally healthy.
· Mindfulness matters. Being mindful might sound like something for coastal hipsters, but there’s early research from small studies that suggest that it may help you stay emotionally healthy during pregnancy by reducing stress. Being aware of your body’s changes and the things that you stress about most and savouring the small victories will help ward off depression and anxiety.
· There’s an app for that. Studies are also showing that meditation is an excellent companion to pregnancy, but most people don’t know where to start. Fortunately, there are some great apps out there to get you started. I like Headspace, but pick the one that seems right to you.
· Put Date Night on the calendar. One of the greatest sources of stress during a pregnancy is your changing relationship with your significant other. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to start planning a regular weekly date night during pregnancy and sticking to it. It doesn’t have to be expensive—taking sandwiches to a scenic spot or a long stroll in the park is every bit as good as dinner and a movie.
· Private time is essential. The most important person to make a date with is yourself. Do what you must to carve out some personal time for yourself every day, even if it’s only 20 minutes with an iced tea and a magazine. Having some breathing room now and once the baby arrives will help you relieve stress.
· Ask for what you need. Here’s a great tip for staying emotionally healthy—learn to state exactly what it is that you need. Asking for help may sound obvious, but when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed it can be tough getting to the point. If you were raised to not to ask things of others, it can be doubly hard. This is where practice helps and no better time to practice than during pregnancy to prepare you for the demands of being a new mother.
Bottom line: Even if you have a history of anxiety and depression, there’s a lot you can do to keep healthy and avoid triggers that will increase your level of stress. Starting these now can pay big dividends after the baby is born.