Make time for yourself
In pregnancy and after the arrival of your baby, even a short relaxation time each day will make a big difference to your stress levels and feelings of tiredness that can seem overwhelming. This time spent relaxing can also increase your ability to cope and aid in a better overall health and mental wellbeing. If you are still to give birth, these techniques can be used within labour to aid in pain relief.
What makes me stressed?
We've all heard the expression 'fight or flight'. This is how the body has evolved to respond to any threatening situation. In times of stress the body uses a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol turns on processes we need for survival and switches off processes that are not needed for survival. This is great in an emergency, but if you are stressed all of the time, prolonged elevated cortisol levels have been linked to depression, mood swings, memory changes, poor healing, weight gain and immune problems.
On the flip side, when you're relaxed and feeling good, your body produces 'happy hormones' such as opioids and serotonin.
How do I de-stress?
For a start, try to stop worrying. Yoga, relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques have also been proven to reduce the level of circulating stress hormones and increase your level of happy hormones.
Try going for a walk, listening to relaxing music, or just clearing your mind for twenty minutes every day.
Try to set aside 'worry time'. Rather than worrying about things constantly (and keeping your cortisol levels elevated), make a specific time every week when you think about your worries.
Try this relaxation technique when lying down or sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and focus on your deep breathing. Focus on the cool air as you breathe in through your nose and the warm air and you breathe out through your mouth. Focus on one body part at a time starting from your head all the way to your toes imagining all your muscles releasing and feeling heavy.
Try to take time to practice the Buddhist practice of mindfulness throughout your day. Even a minute here and there to become mindful of your breath, the comings and goings of your body sensations, tensions and your surroundings can help to de-clutter your brain and provide energy and calmness.