by Elise Bowerman
"Anxiety, or extreme apprehension and worry, is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations...
Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males."
We know with great life changes, like pregnancy, birthing and caring for children can easily increase anxiety in our lives. It's important to understand you are not alone and there are a variety of ways to release the intense feelings.
Anxiety Can Show Up In Multiple Ways
Anxiety is a complex topic. At the forefront we understand anxiety to be a psychological issue. Beyond the mental and emotional mind the physical body can produce anxiety symptoms, "as bad as some diseases.... even when no fear or worried thoughts are present," according to CalmClinic.com.
Common Physical Symptoms
- Increased perspiration (sweating)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Uncontrollable shaking/trembling
- Difficulty swallowing / choking sensations
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or feeling light-headed
- Hot and cold flashes
Chronic (long-term) anxiety symptoms may develop into more complex concerns where an issue is presenting as a physical problem, when really it stems from a mental/emotional state of unrest.
What You Can Do To Release Anxious Feelings
Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Acknowledging where the stress is coming from is vital in dissolving and/or eliminating the anxious feelings. Some do-able options include, and certainly not limited to:
- Deep Breathing - begin to breathe in and out through the nostrils, focusing on a longer exhale. Three to five breaths at a time throughout the day, whenever you think about it.
- Guided Meditation - listen to short guided meditations about five to ten minutes in length once a day or a few times a week.
- Talk, talk, and talk - to a professional psychologist, trusted partner, friend and/or family member about your thoughts, feelings, and worries.
- Write - share your feelings with no explanations on paper. Keep a notebook in the kitchen or by the bed to take five minutes or less to write how you feel in that moment.
- Gratitude Journal - list three things you are grateful for each day. Nothing fancy, just the truth.
More options during pregnancy and postpartum:
- Participate in Prenatal Yoga, Postnatal Yoga or other group classes surrounded by women at the same stage of life as you. There are many benefits with yoga.
- Legs Up the Wall - and rest. Yup, my all-time favorite yoga pose (viparita karani.) It's so calming and nourishing! Hang out here for about 3-10 minutes.
- Avoid this posture if you have glaucoma, serious spinal problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and possibly during menstruation.
- Knowledge = Power. Educate yourself (and your birth-partner, if you are with someone) about the child-birthing process and caring for a newborn.
- Walk around your block, in a park, on a trail for about 20-40 minutes. It has been known to ease constipation, too!
- Self-Care - massage, hair appointment, nail appointment, or whatever else makes you feel nurtured and cared for.
- Permission to "not do" and simply "be." Allowing the mind to rest or space out will give you greater capacity to go throughout the day.
There is no finish line in motherhood. We may often say, "when this happens, then I'll feel better," or something like that. It's simply not true. Something new always unfolds. There will always be something to get through in life.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Some days you may take 10 steps in the direction you want to go in, while other days one or two, and some days are restful with the feet on the couch.
Surround yourself with fun, loving and respectful people. This is your life, your story. That's what makes you special.