Hey mama, how are you doing?
Last week on Instagram we did a quick check-in to see how often you were feeling stressed, and we learned that 72% felt stressed on most days. 72%. But we get it. These are unprecedentedly stressful times, and we feel it all too. We’re here to ask you this though: how can we help?
When we asked what you were struggling with most amidst the COVID-19 craziness so many of you lovely ladies reached out with what’s weighing heavy on your mind, and (not surprisingly) the responses were very similar. We teamed up again with the wonderful Louise Murray, Health & Mindfulness coach, to give you some actionable tools for dealing with your biggest stressors right now:
How do I cope with feelings of loneliness? I’m feeling especially isolated as a new mom.
Tip 1: Look to join online networks — there are lots of fantastic online groups you can join at the moment to help you feel more connected (including the Baby2Body Squad!). Don’t be shy about joining a few groups like these that connect you to other mums and nourish your body and soul too.
Tip 2: Schedule a weekly family call — Even though it’s not as good as being together in person, make sure you stay connected to your good friends and family with regular video calls and catchups — it really makes a difference.
Tip 3: Do a positive ‘thought shake’ — If you start feeling negative chatter in your mind or your mood start to dip, have a pool of resources you can dip into to help give yourself a positive ‘thought shake’. This might mean a quick 10-minute video chat with a good friend, listening to your favorite music, tuning into an uplifting podcast, or reading an inspirational book. If you choose a book or a podcast; set an alarm for 10 minutes, read/listen away and even in the short time you will come away feeling much more positive and ready to get on with the day again.
How do I deal with constant anxiety over the current situation? I feel like I can’t relax.
Top Tip: Use the power of your breath — one of my favorite self-care tools for easing anxiety, stress and overwhelm is using your breath to help you.
If you are not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy. The way you breathe may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired. And when you feel tired, parts of your brain are triggered that make your emotions stronger and your capacity to think becomes rationally diminished… a bad combination.
Many people fail to breathe deeply when they feel tense, which is one reason you may feel zapped at the end of a stressful day. The general principles of correct breathing are to make it deeper, slower, quieter, and more regular. Doing so helps you force more oxygen into your cells, which slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, ultimately providing more energy.
When Stress Levels Peak Use The “4, 7, 8” Breathwork Exercise
This only takes 2 minutes.
With this, we’re focusing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Meaning we are not using our chest to breathe, but engaging our lower belly as we inhale and exhale, drawing air into the full lung capacity and not just the upper lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and your digestive system, which promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation. Here’s how to do it:
- Deeply exhale through your mouth with a whoosh sound.
- Then deeply inhale through the nose for 4, feeling your lower belly rise outwardly.
- Hold for 7 counts.
- Exhale through the mouth for 8, and your lower belly should move inwardly, towards the navel.
- Repeat for 3-4 breaths.
Afterwards you will feel calmer, more composed, more energized and focused. Give it a go and see how you feel!
For a guided “4-7-8” breathwork exercise, check out Bedtime Breathing in the Baby2Body app.
How can I deal with a lack of motivation and productivity while on lockdown?
Ask yourself: Are you giving yourself permission to have ‘non-productive’ days too? — There are lots of things flying around about making the most of this “extra” time at home that we have, but it’s OK not to be uber-productive right now if it’s just not working that way. This is a stressful time, many of us have kids at home who we are having to home school, whilst also working from home ourselves. That is a huge feat in itself. That is productivity!
So go easy on the ‘shoulds’ – this is a difficult enough time as it is without heaping loads of expectations, goals and demands onto yourself. It’s OK if you aren’t doing a workout every day, if you aren’t learning a new language, baking something different each week, or if you let the housework fall behind…. it’s OK to go slow on some days. Have you given yourself permission to do nothing for a day so you can build back up energy for motivation and productivity later on?
I’m feeling stressed about my impending childbirth. The normal worries are now all heightened with Coronavirus concerns.
It’s totally natural to feel a big mixture of emotions as you approach your birth, even more so during these challenging times. I am due to give birth to my 4th baby in a couple of weeks, so I know that a pandemic pregnancy and birth is… a new level of overwhelming. A few things I have found super helpful to ease my anxiety and fears:
- Mindful meditation: It helps slow the ‘whirring’ of my brain. I come away feeling more calm, grounded and at ease. Just 10 minutes a day is enough to make a really positive different to your mental and emotional wellbeing.
- Movement: It really is medicine! The release of those feel good endorphins can really help shift your mindset into a higher vibe zone.
- Getting outside: Did you know that being outdoors increases serotonin and dopamine? Both serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters in our brain that are responsible for feelings of happiness and improved mood. PLUS being outside also helps combat anxiety and low mood because it decreases activity in the part of the brain responsible for rumination and repetitive thoughts focused on negative emotions.
- Eating to stress less: Include lots of magnesium in your diet because it is natures ‘chill pill’. Magnesium suppresses stress hormones by blocking their transmission to the brain. So pack your diet with magnesium rich foods: leafy greens, cacao, avocado, banana, cashews, sunflower seeds and brazil nuts.
For more on giving birth during the Coronavirus pandemic, be sure to read this post.
Louise Murray is a Health and Mindfulness Coach and has her qualifications from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She looks at nourishing people ON and OFF the plate by coaching them around 12 different aspects of one’s life. For more, you can follow her on Instagram @live_well_with_lou.
Before we go we want to ask you again: how are you doing, mama? Do share in the comments below what’s weighing on your mind or what’s causing you stress and we’ll be sure to share more coping tips in an upcoming post!