Pregnancy can be an emotionally challenging time. It can feel like thinking about the baby is taking up all of your mental space along with body space—leaving precious little room for you. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to keep your cool and look after your emotional well-being. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to put up with how you’re feeling because it’s just hormones. Whatever changes you’re experiencing don’t prevent you from being mentally healthy. What to do? Since everyone loves a good pregnancy hack, how about a few to help you maintain your emotional well-being? Here are seven of our favourites:
· Breathe to the Music. You may not have time for 30 minutes of meditation, but five minutes of purposeful breathing can oxygenate your blood and get you centered. We are in tune with these steps offered by Danielle Hark, as well as her awesome playlist of songs about breathing. The benefit? A recent study showed that medical students who did breathing exercises were able to deal with stress better than those who did not.
· Get Your Jam On. Even just listening to music can make a big difference. For example, a brand new study showed that pregnant women who listened to relaxing music had much lower anxiety and depression than those who did not.
· Summon the “Aha!” Moment: Sometimes all you need to recalibrate your mental attitude is to ask yourself the right questions. When you feel overwhelmed, try asking yourself: How would I prefer to feel right now? What do I need to do to make that happen?
· Meditation in Motion. There’s something about a good walk that helps the brain sort things out. If a park or natural path isn’t available, take the side streets and visualize your future as a parent. By using your imagination about the future, you’re allowing your subconscious to work in the background accessing solutions for the present.
· The Buddy System. There’s nothing like having a wingman or woman to pull you up when you’re flying low. Make a pact with someone close to you to be your go-to when needed, but no pity parties. Give your friend permission to tell you to cut out the ruminating and help you find three things to feel grateful about. There’s lots of research that shows that gratitude is a great mood-buster – even down to the brain cell level!
· Wash Your Troubles Away. There’s something so soothing about water. Herman Melville said, “Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.” Can’t relax enough to meditate? Try it in the bath! For added relaxation, add a couple of candles and a recording of the surf breaking on the shore.
· Write it Out. Five minutes of free writing in your journal can do wonders for helping you express everything you’ve been bottling up. Set the timer and then write without censoring yourself or paying attention to what you’re putting on the page. Scrawling, block letters, giant exclamation points all count. The point is to get it down and release those feelings.
Bottom line: Taking small steps, like one or more of these hacks, can be part of your repertoire for staying mentally healthy. Just make sure to discuss anything out of the ordinary with your doctor before starting.