It’s been a terrible news cycle lately—the devastating hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, the earthquake in Mexico, ominous rumblings from North Korea, wildfires raging in the Pacific Northwest, and now the mass shooting in Las Vegas. It’s normal for a pregnant woman to wonder—how can I bring my baby into a world like this? The roll call of tragedy is enough to provoke anxiety in the most well-grounded individual. For women who have a predisposition for, or who live with, depression and anxiety it can seem catastrophic. However, there’s a lot you can do to protect your emotional health during difficult times and some things you might not have considered.
· Some Stress is Good For You: Studies show that there is a “Goldilocks Zone” where the stress is high enough to inspire you to learn strategies to deal with adversity but not so high as to be unhealthy or immobilizing. Embrace this challenge by realizing that difficult times can help you build your reservoir of coping techniques and use them to help you stay focused and prepared for emergencies.
· Check Your Language. No matter how bad things may be on the news, don’t catastrophize by embellishing them in your mind. The way you talk to yourself—and others—about events will colour your perception. Use concrete descriptions and don’t dwell on the particularly awful aspects.
· Don’t Neglect Self–Care. While it might seem self-indulgent, doing those things that help you relieve stress are especially important during difficult times. There is good evidence that when it comes to stress, aerobic exercise, taking walks in nature, relaxation exercises, yoga and meditation can help you get through this.
· Mr. Rogers Was Right. There’s a reason the video of the host of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood discussing his mother’s advice to “look for the helpers” when a bad thing happens has a half-million views. Looking for the best of humanity and turning to community to give and receive comfort are powerful antidotes to fear and helplessness in the midst of community disasters.
· Volunteer. Doing things for others can return a sense of control and mitigate feelings of helplessness. There are numerous reliable charities set up to help victims of all of the recent disasters and many communities are having drives for supplies.
There’s a powerful instinct when bad things happen to shield ourselves and our children from them, but we grow through adversity. However, if you are finding that recent events are more than you can handle, please speak to your obstetrician or family doctor and get a referral. Only you know when the stress is more than you can handle.
Bottom line: Even in bad times pregnant women can remain emotionally healthy by recognizing that some degree of strong feelings are normal and appropriate and working to mitigate the effects of extreme stress. If feelings become overwhelming, be sure to discuss this with your doctor immediately.
Need some help? Find out Where To Get Help If You’re Pregnant and Depressed