7 Ways to Ease Anxiety During Pregnancy – Forbes Health

Depending on the level of anxiety you experience, therapy techniques and diet and lifestyle changes may provide some relief.

Explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a therapy technique that involves assessing your anxious or negative thought patterns and applying healthier coping mechanisms. Dr. Lasseter refers to CBT as “the most effective non-drug treatment for anxiety during pregnancy.”

Work with a licensed therapist or counselor in CBT can help you identify certain thoughts or behaviors that trigger your anxiety. From there, you can avoid some of those triggers if possible, Dr. Gleaton says, or you can learn ways to overcome them when they arise.

Employ relaxation techniques

Emphasis on physically relaxing the body has been shown to reduce maternal stress, according to a small 2021 study that looked at stress levels in pregnant women after relaxation techniques involving music, guided imagery, and rest. Other helpful practices for reducing anxiety symptoms during pregnancy include meditation, acupuncture, and prenatal yoga, according to Dr. Lasseter.

modify your diet

Aim for a balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients, which have been proven to help with anxiety symptoms, says Dr. Gleaton. She recommends adding omega-3-rich foods like salmon (a type of fish that is low in mercury) to her meals to help maintain healthy brain function.

Additionally, a 2020 systematic review found a link between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety in pregnant people. Dr. Gleaton suggests adding sources of vitamin D, like eggs and sardines, to his dish, as it can help protect against dips in mood-boosting hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

And when it comes to caffeine and sugar, practice moderation. “These can trigger or worsen feelings of stress and anxiety,” says Dr. Gleaton.

Find a daily release

If your OB-GYN gives you the green light to exercise, go for it, says Dr. Lasseter, since the hormones you release as you sweat are great for relieving stress and anxiety. He can also try low-impact activities to help slow down his thoughts and feel grounded in his body, such as a daily walk, yoga session, or meditation, adds Dr. Gleaton.

Prioritize rest

You need more sleep when you’re anxious or stressed to help your body and brain recharge, says Dr. Gleaton, who recommends getting eight to 10 hours of sleep during pregnancy. However, this may be easier said than done: a study in obstetric medicine found that 73% of pregnant women experience some form of insomnia in the third trimester.

Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult for pregnant women due to increased urination frequency, discomfort, acid reflux, and restless leg syndrome, so you may need to set aside some time for a nap during the day. Dr. Gleaton also recommends sleeping with a pregnancy pillow to ease some of the strain on your back, and a relaxing, screen-free bedtime routine that includes habits like yoga, reading, or journaling.

Find things you can control

“Any activity that increases your sense of control will give you a break from the surges of adrenaline,” says Dr. Witkin. Try cleaning out your desk or closet, organizing your wallet, or paying some bills, he suggests, to balance what you can’t control with what you do have control over.

Try a rhythmic activity

These types of activities can help you connect to yourself and similarly calm your mind because you know what to expect next, says Dr. Witkin. He suggests listening to some slow jams, specifically music that’s slower than his heartbeat (which is around 72 beats per minute), going for a run, or rewatching a favorite movie or series.

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