Are You A Chronic Worrier?
Many women are chronic worriers. They never feel like everything is “just fine”. They are either perfectionists or procrastinators but they spend much of their time concerned that everything is a mess and believe that they are directly responsible.
Chronic worriers will focus on the “what-if’s” of life and lay awake all night envisioning worst case scenarios come to life in their minds and dreams. They walk around with a constant feeling of dread that keeps their heart rates and their entire body on high alert.
What Causes Chronic Worry?
Much of that anxiety and angst is not a chronic worrier’s fault; they were knit together in their mothers’ wombs with a developing brain bathed daily in their mother’s stress hormones. As a result, these women developed a decreased ability to cope with life’s normal stressors because of the epigenetic effects of their mothers’ anxiety and stress responses on their brain.
It is easy to tell a pregnant woman to “relax”, in fact it is often repeated over and over by their spouses during labor.
But this is easier said than done in labor and in the whole pregnancy.
Ways to Combat Stress And Worry During Pregnancy
My advice to women who are presently doing some of the most important work in their life is this:
- Wallow in your pregnancy. This comes more naturally with a first pregnancy but EVERY unborn child deserves his/her mother to be head-over-heels in love with him/her. Have secret conversations with your baby. Caress your tiny lump of belly at 14 weeks, imagining when the baby will be in your arms. Relax in the tub, envisioning yourself pushing your precious baby into the world. Let the love hormone Oxytocin bathe your baby’s developing brain rather than the stress hormone cortisol.
- Absent yourself from life’s usual stressors. Avoid watching the news, put off major projects like going back to school or finding a new home and don’t overextend yourself financially.
- Give yourself permission to avoid stressful people and situations. Pregnancy can make you much more sensitive and more easily stressed. Hang with people who are encouraging and loving.
- Exercise. The quintessential stress reliever. Make a point to walk and stretch and strengthen on a regular basis. Exercise elevates serotonin levels, another happy hormone for your baby and you.
- Deep breathing. Concentrate on your breath as you fill your lungs completely and then as you slowly exhale. Deep breathing is stress reducing. This is great practice for labor and parenting and even for dental work!
- Pray or meditate. Spend time each day contemplating the miracle happening within you. Love your baby, love your family, and love your partner. Love casts out fear. Write or find a positive affirmation to meditate on like this verse from the Bible.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Or make your own positive thought to ponder in your heart like the quote below.
“I welcome my baby into this world with a heart filled with love and gratitude.”
Work to avoid stress and anxiety in your pregnancy in order to give your baby the best possible start in life. And when you choose to be calm, you are making a great start at being a mom too.