While some women experience a decrease in anxiety while pregnant (or no symptoms at all), others find that they’re more anxious than ever. Signs of prenatal anxiety can include restlessness, irritability, sleeping problems, excessive worrying, and not feeling in control.
Having a baby is a big life change, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed out. But anxiety isn’t going to help you have a smooth pregnancy. It’s important to do what you can to help manage your anxiety symptoms, so you can focus on enjoying the pregnancy, not worrying about it. Try the following strategies to minimize prenatal anxiety.
10 Quit The Caffeine
Consuming products with caffeine is a sure-fire way to raise your anxiety. Research has found that caffeine can stimulate a ‘fight or flight’ response and can trigger anxiety symptoms or even a panic attack. Remember, you should be limiting your caffeine intake in pregnancy anyway. March of Dimes advises expecting women to not drink more than 200 milligrams per day.
9 Stop Eating Junk Food
As they say, you are what you eat. Junk foods – like pizza, hamburgers, and fries – don’t just have little nutritional value, but they’re also tough for the body to digest. This can lead to a host of gastrointestinal symptoms that can trigger or exacerbate anxiety.
Cut out junk food as much as possible during your pregnancy not only to meet your baby’s nutritional needs but to improve your mental health.
Various research has linked social media usage to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Seeing everyone else look so put-together online can make you anxious and stir up feelings of self-doubt. If social media is putting you down, consider taking a break.
7 Don’t Read Scary Stories
When you’re expecting, it’s tempting to look up other women’s stories of childbirth and parenting a newborn. But remember, it’s mainly the sensational stories that go viral. Reading firsthand accounts online does not always give you an accurate picture. If it’s starting to stress you out, then avoid it altogether.
6 Limit Your Screen Time
Pausing social media may not be enough to reduce your prenatal anxiety. It can be helpful to limit screen time. Research has found that screen time increases the risk of anxiety and depression. This may be because blue light from electronic devices interferes with the body’s natural clock, which disrupts melatonin production. This has been linked to a higher risk of health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Additionally, screen time can raise the levels of cortisol in the body, which increases one’s stress response and anxiety symptoms.
5 Avoid Toxic People
Don’t just avoid toxicity online. You also need to cut it out in person. If you’re feeling mainly drained after spending time with others, evaluate why you think this way. There may be a person (or two) heightening your prenatal anxiety – especially if they’re telling you all that can go wrong in labor and once the baby arrives.
Consider taking a break from any toxic people in your life, so you can give your full attention to pregnancy.
4 Stop Being Sedentary
You may feel like doing nothing but sitting around in pregnancy, especially as your due date approaches, but being sedentary can worsen anxiety symptoms.
Getting regular exercise can actually improve your anxiety. When we move our body, it encourages feel-good endorphins to be released by the brain that immediately boosts one’s mood. Exercise also gives you a distraction, which can help calm your anxiety down in a particularly stressful moment.
3 Don’t Overwork Yourself
Pregnancy can be a busy time. There’s a lot that needs to happen when preparing for a baby. If you are taking maternity leave, you may feel additionally stressed out by your workload and need to prepare for your time off.
However, if you’re not giving yourself downtime, it’ll contribute to your anxiety. It’s important to take a little time each day (even just 5 minutes) for self-care. Do calming activities like meditation or breathing exercises. Evaluate what’s a priority and what you can get help with to alleviate everything on your plate.
2 Quit Staying Up Late
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can significantly worsen your anxiety. Research has found a lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, high blood pressure, and other health consequences. Plus, as per Family Doctor, pregnant women need a few more hours of sleep each day, so don’t skip out on your beauty rest.
1 Don’t Bottle Your Feelings Up
Finally, don’t keep things bottled up inside. This can make you increasingly overwhelmed and will only worsen your anxiety and stress levels. Having a strong support system can help alleviate your worries. Confide in a trusted family member or friend, or if you could use more support, consider seeking out professional help.
Sources: Everyday Health, March of Dimes, Intrepid Mental Health, Help Guide, Chopra, Mayo Clinic, Medium, Family Doctor,