I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life. So when I became pregnant and hormones started to rage through me, so did anxiety. Anxiety became one of the biggest struggles during the first few weeks of my pregnancy and continued through it all.
I had some techniques under my belt for dealing with my anxiety in normal circumstances, but learning to cope with these symptoms to this new extent took some time and some really intentional effort.
Have you struggled with anxiety during your pregnancy? I want to encourage you with some of these tips on dealing with anxiety during pregnancy.
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I’ve learned the importance of finding healing mentally during pregnancy to help with the development of a healthy baby. I almost wanted to “set a good example” for my growing baby by being proactive and dealing with my anxiety in a healthy way.
I also learned that after birth, hormones rage all the crazier and so I wanted to be equipped for that time so that I could enjoy it and live in the moment as much as possible.
Acknowledge and Allow Yourself to Feel Emotions
One of the biggest barriers to coping with anxiety and in truly finding healing is in not allowing yourself to acknowledge and feel your emotions.
I did this for so long and I remained stuck in my anxiety. I had learned that having deep emotions wasn’t okay and so when those emotions surfaced, I tried to shove them down.
But this blocked my ability to truly cope and find healing. And in shoving down the emotions boiling underneath the surface, it caused anxiety to bubble up instead.
Through counseling and therapy I was able to not only allow myself to acknowledge my emotions, but I learned to recognize what emotions were flowing beneath the surface. I learned techniques to recognizing the emotions and I became comfortable embracing them.
If I was sad about something, that was okay! If I was angry, that was fine too! In acknowledging this, I could find ways to cope and find healing.
If you are unsure about how to uncover your emotions or anxiety triggers, I recommend trying counseling or therapy.
I want to encourage you to take the time to start to acknowledge your emotions and to learn to feel them. When you do this, you can begin to cope with your anxiety and you will also notice that it lessens.
Physical Coping Mechanisms
I want to share just a few of the physical coping mechanisms that helped me to deal with my anxiety during pregnancy. Not all of these techniques helped all the time, but in general they all worked together to help manage and decrease my anxiety during pregnancy.
Lavender essential oil and frankincense essential oil have been extremely beneficial in helping me to cope with anxiety as a whole and especially during pregnancy. While I did avoid all essential oils during the first trimester and am very cautious about their use during pregnancy, they can still have powerful benefits, especially in bringing relief to your anxiety. I recommend talking about oils with your doctor or doing research to be sure you are diluting properly during pregnancy. But these two oils have been my favorites!
Take a moment to breathe deeply. Find a YouTube video, an audio track or just take a few moments in silence to breathe in and out, slowing your heart and body. If your mind is racing, instead pick something relaxing to think about. A happy memory, a favorite place or something else that brings you peace. Every time your mind drifts, bring it back to this.
Take even just 10-15 minutes every day to get active. Exercise is a powerful way to cope with anxiety. I feel it helps me regulate my hormones and it releases all kinds of feel-good hormones. We have a stationary bike that I try to ride a few times a week for just 15 minutes. You can also go for a walk, do a video workout or strength exercises.
I definitely recommend looking up pregnancy exercises and be sure to ask your doctor before starting any intensive programs. My best recommendation during pregnancy is to start slow and listen to your body.
I forget how important it is to get outside. If you are busy at work or, like me, work from home, it can be easy to spend the entire day inside. But getting outside, especially if you can sit in the sun for even just ten minutes, this will do wonders for your mood and your mental health!
Emotional Coping Mechanisms
As I mentioned before, it’s really important to consider the emotions and triggers behind your anxiety. Once you learn to do this, you can use these coping mechanisms to help to decrease your anxiety during pregnancy.
I really struggle to journal and I don’t know why. Every time I actually take the time to do it, I love it! Sometimes I just journal what is going on in my life and sometimes I will dig into some thoughts or fears or anxieties that I am having. Journaling can help you uncover some of what is triggering your anxiety. It can also help lead you to the things that will help you cope.
If you don’t already have one, grab a journal and go ahead and start writing. You can answer prompts like:
- What went on in your day?
- What emotions are you feeling right now?
- Why might you be feeling these emotions? Did anything trigger it?
- What are the highs and lows of your week?
- How do you see God working in your life right now?
Talk It Out
Talking out your emotions and thoughts can often help you process and find out what is beneath the surface. Some of us do this better while journaling or meditating. But if you’re anything like me, verbal processing is one of the most helpful things when I’m struggling. If this is you, I would encourage you to find a trusted friend or counselor and talk it out!
I love this one. If you are struggling with anxiety, instead of trying hard to “stop thinking about it” or “stop feeling it”, replace it! Figure out what helps you feel better and redirect your thoughts to that.
For me, I replace it with Scripture often. Or I will replace it with thinking about something happy or a fun memory. You can also replace it with doing something. Call someone, read something or find something to redirect those thoughts.
Spiritual Coping Mechanisms
God has been the biggest factor in finding healing in anxiety during pregnancy. Without the hope that I have found in Him, I would not have made it through the anxiety-ridden days. A lot of these coping mechanisms can be centered around God, but I’ll share two quick ways to do that here.
Start a journal and record specific prayers. I watched the movie War Room and this really taught me how important prayer is and how to pray. Now I have a journal that is split into sections. I like to record specific and fervent prayers that are written out for me to easily access and pray when needed.
I will also write down my prayer requests and praises. This is a powerful way to see God actively at work in your life. And this helps to remind me of His faithfulness, even when I’m anxious.
And finally, I have a section where I write down at least 5 things that I am grateful for each day. This redirects my focus to the good things in my life and has been monumental in coping with anxiety.
Find Scripture that is encouraging to you, specifically for your situation and what triggers your anxiety. Write down, memorize and reflect on these Scriptures. These are the Scriptures that I use with the Replacement Technique. Oftentimes when my mind starts spiraling out of control with anxiety, I will stop my thoughts and repeat a Scripture in my mind. Sometimes I will repeat it aloud.
This often calms my mind and redirects my thoughts.
There are many more powerful coping mechanisms but these are just a few of the most helpful ones that I have found.