Zen Series: Part 1 — Quick Ways to Find Peace and Tranquility
Zen. It’s hard to achieve even without the added pressure and stress of carrying or taking care of a child. So how do you — as a soon-to-be or current mom — find your inner piece? How do you calm your nerves, align your chi and find time for yourself when you can’t even remember what day it is or whether or not you bathed today?
We’re telling you that it can be done.
Our zen series, which continues over the coming weeks, covers a host of topics, not limited to: finding the cause of your stress, transitioning into parenthood without losing yourself, quick solutions for calming down in a matter of minutes and even building your own, personalized meditation space.
Staying Cool, Calm and Collected While Pregnant
Today we’re starting at the very beginning: finding your inner zen before your little nugget even enters the world. Because let’s not kid ourselves — stress starts to mount way before delivery day. You’ve got the pressure of preparing everything in a short period of time (including the nursery, baby-proofing your home and setting up doctors appointments) and you have anxiety over delivery day and carrying a healthy baby, not to mention the financial weight you can already feel mounting.
It’s a lot to take on, but you can handle it.
“Know that you can handle whatever challenge arises,” says Dr. Debra Kissen, a licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director at the Light On Anxiety Treatment Center in Chicago. “We humans have been having children since the beginning of time. Parenting will come naturally and you need not over think it.”
Dr. Kissen says that a little anxiety is to be expected, just don’t dwell on all your stresses. And again, it’s important to realize that people have been doing the whole pregnancy/labor thing for a very, very long time.
Also remember that you have an entire team surrounding you, including your doctor, your family, your partner and even your friends. Some serve simply as a support, others can answer your most important questions. There are also online communities, such as the community at Pregnancy Corner, where you can talk with and with whom you can ask questions. Sometimes just talking things out or getting the answers to your questions can calm your mind in a drastic way.
As for all that preparing? Don’t go overboard.
“Obtain a list of the most mission-critical baby items from friends and other trust worthy sources,” says Dr. Kissen. “From there, just purchase the basics. You can then figure out what makes sense for your child rearing style once the little one comes.”
The truth? Don’t over think it and go with the flow.
4 Easy Ways to Calm Down Quickly
While all of the above advice does work, it’s sometimes easier said than done. You may find yourself standing in a baby store, at a friend’s house or even in the comfort of your own home when you feel anxiety building. When it seems like all you can do is ride out the wave of worry, take a moment to pause and take control of the situation. Here’s how:
• Mindful Breathing – One of the best ways to calm down quickly, says Dr. Kissen, is through mindful breathing. There’s much data supporting mindful breathing exercises, so don’t knock it. Research shows it can reduce your heart rate, calm your mind and relieve tension in a matter of minutes.
Start by taking 10 slow, deep breaths, isntructs Dr. Kissen. Count to three as you breath in, hold for three seconds and then exhale slowly for an additional four counts. The best part? You can do this anywhere and without making a scene.
• Ground Yourself – “Ground yourself in the here and now by doing a quick body scan,” says Dr. Kissen. “Notice all sensations, starting from the top of the head and working your way down to the feet.” What this does is help you focus on something else besides your stresses and, as a result, calms you down.
• Change it Up – By it, we’re referring to two things: your train of thought and your location. “To begin, redirect attention away from worrying thoughts,” says Dr. Kissen. The easiest way to do this is to pay attention to what you’re hearing, physical feeling, smelling and even seeing.
It may help to change up your environment. “If you’re feeling stressed inside of the house, walk outside and breathe in some fresh air,” suggests Dr. Kissen.
• Move It – A quick burst of physical activity can launch an endorphin frenzy (feel-good hormones) and make you feel more alert. To get the blood flowing, you can do something as simple as 10 jumping jacks, some squats, a few yoga moves or you can even take a stroll through the neighborhood.
Of course, all of the above applies to both parents both pre and post delivery. Employ them as often as you need and you’ll begin to feel yourself being more mindful and less stressed as time goes on.
Check out our next installation of the Zen Series: Creating Your Own Meditation Space.
A quick disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will add value to you during your pregnancy journey.