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Simple Techniques for Managing Stress in Pregnancy and Beyond!

January 18, 2012

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You’re no stranger to stress. You juggle work deadlines, home improvement projects, traffic, and tax time. But during your pregnancy, you may find yourself becoming even more overwhelmed than usual. You’re preparing for one of the biggest changes and challenges of your life, and it’s only natural to feel stressed during times of transition. And when you’re expecting, it’s important to take care of yourself and manage your stress level. How do you combat anxiety and tension when keeping calm is more important than ever?

Stress management techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can work wonders, and can be applied not only throughout your pregnancy, but during childbirth as well. Try taking a break for a few minutes each day, and allow your breathing to mimic the relaxed pattern you achieve during sound sleep. Place your hands on your abdomen, and breathe in slowly and deeply for four counts, letting your belly rise as you breath. Hold your breath for two seconds, and then release the breath slowly for six seconds. As you exhale, feel your belly fall and your muscles relaxing. Repeat this exercise several times, and be sure to take a short break if you begin to feel dizzy. This slow, deep breathing triggers your parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a relaxation response.

Another technique, progressive muscle relaxation, is a great way to hit the reset button during a frenetic day. Tense the muscles in your feet for several seconds and then release them. As you relax your muscles, focus on the feeling of warmth that floods those muscles, and allow them to go limp. Next, do the same in your calf muscles and your thigh muscles, and continue on to the muscles in your torso and mid-section, neck, shoulders, and face. If you perform this technique slowly and focus on the warm sensation that flows through your muscles as they relax, you’ll be able to release tension that you didn’t even know you were carrying with you!

In times of stress, it’s easy to shift our priorities and spend time worrying and obsessing rather than taking a moment for ourselves. Remember to take responsibility for your mental health. No one else can relieve your stress for you! When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that your well being is just as important as the small stresses and crises that occur throughout the day. You’ll find yourself feeling healthier and more relaxed throughout your pregnancy, and you’ll have an arsenal of techniques to employ during childbirth…and motherhood!

Photo courtesy of Just You Photography.

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