Anxiety in the Second Trimester
I have opened up a bit in stories regarding some anxiety I am experiencing. The first time I experienced anxiety during this pregnancy the feelings came on extremely strong complete with heart palpitations, shortness of breath and a full-blown panic attack.
In my early 20s I had experienced anxiety and panic attacks so I wasn't overly alarmed as to what was happening. During this specific bought of panic, my head felt calm, but my body was raging with sensations. I laid down with my weighted blanket and did a mindfulness practice. Within 15 minutes I felt much better but still felt the need to sustain feeling better by taking a nap.
Since that day I have had episodes of anxiety in the afternoons almost every day. I spoke to my midwife about it last week and she affirmed for me that anxiety during pregnancy can be quite normal due to the change in hormones in our bodies. She encouraged me to make sure I am staying on top of my counseling and to continue my mindfulness practice.
Experiencing anxiety is not fun to say the least, but I have been a little more accepting of it, and a little more patient with it. I know that I have the tools I need to get through it, and I am not fighting with myself to make it go away. The best way I can describe it is I am letting myself feel what I am feeling without judgment. I am not trying to change it or allowing it to take a hold of me. Succinctly, I am not giving it any power. Instead, I am continuing to do the things I would typically do to boost my mental health and trust that in time, it will go away.
I often get asked what I do to stay balanced. And while I don't think I am always balanced so to speak, I am pretty good at putting my mental health first. Below are some methods that I am currently using as well as some methods I plan to use in order to help me cope with anxiety:
4 Ways to Cope with Pregnancy Anxiety
1. // TALK ABOUT IT
I am a firm believer that if you talk about what is going on in your life openly and without shame you are releasing your burdens, and in turn, getting the support you need. I told my husband immediately during the first panic attack and his response was so loving. He encouraged me to lay down and meditate and brought me water.
Now, I must preface this and say that we have a lot of talks around what his role is regarding my mental health. After my battle with depression, and my husbands experience with caregiver fatigue, we have had to talk about our "plan" of action when things start going south to make sure I am not putting too much responsibility on him for my wellbeing and that he is a supportive and loving partner when I need him most. If you tend to experience anxiety, I highly suggest sitting down with your person (whether it be your spouse, roommate, friend or parent) and talk to them about what best helps you during the moments of panic and what actions they can do in the midst of it (e.g., get you water, encourage you to take a moment a pause, check in on you, give you space, etc.).
I also told my midwife what was going on and plan to tell my counselor too. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of talking about what you are experiencing. I know it can be scary at first because of the negative stigma our society has regarding mental health. You are not weak, you are not crazy, and most of all, you are not alone. Talk about it!
2. // Weighted blanket
I recently partnered with a company called My Calm Blanket that makes weighted blankets and I have been using mine on a daily basis. There is a lot of fantastic research behind why wearing a weighted blanket can help reduce anxiety and stress and even help with sleep. On their site they share how wearing a weighted blanket is much like being swaddled when you were an infant. It made me smile thinking about wearing my blanket while holding our new baby in a swaddle. Gosh, only a few more months before I get to meet this babe.
If interested, I still have a 20% discount code from my Instagram collaboration with them, just use ROCK20. (fyi, this blog post is NOT sponsored).
3. // Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a vital part of my life. It's a practice that I integrate every day, and I am so eager to get you guys the breathing mini mindfulness challenge this week! Mindfulness has helped me meet my emotions where they are at, tap into the present moment and live a less reactive and more fruitful life.
If you want access to the free challenge you need to be subscribed to the blog (HERE). I will send it out via a Mailchimp email so be on the lookout for that and follow along with me on stories starting this Monday, July 9th.
4. // Diet + Exercise
A few years ago I went gluten-free to see if my diet changes could curb my headaches (I had horrible migraines my year of clinicals during graduate school). It turns out, the headaches were mostly stress related, so diet didn't have a significant impact on those, but I did notice other benefits. While I was gluten-free, I was less bloated and felt like I had more mental clarity. My midwife suggested that because gluten can be inflammatory, it might be a good idea to get off it (apparently inflammation can equal anxiety and depression). I am doing some more research now and think I might give it a retry for the rest of my pregnancy.
I know I feel so much better when I move my body and plan to continue going to yoga at least once a week and swimming laps when I can. I tend to be so much more active when I am not pregnant, but I know it's insanely important to get exercise not only for my physical health but mental health too.
If you know of any tips on coping with anxiety while pregnant, leave them in comments below please!