If you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder, taking care of yourself is a critical component in keeping your symptoms in check and maintaining a positive quality of life. This is particularly the case for new or expectant moms, as increased stress levels can exacerbate the effects of an existing mental health concern. Making these five changes in your daily routine can better manage symptoms of anxiety.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is easier said than done for pregnant women or new moms, right? Even if your nights are restless or interrupted, do your best to take daytime naps where you can grab them. Avoid drinking coffee and soda in the evenings and turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
2. Stay Hydrated
If your body is dehydrated, then your brain isn’t receiving all the nutrients it needs to function properly. If you’re experiencing anxiety, dehydration can worsen the effects. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important for every single system in the body, including your mental health.
3. Avoid Anxiety-Inducing Foods
Many of the foods we eat can contribute to anxiety. Refined sugars, alcoholic beverages and fried, fatty foods can all contribute to delayed feelings of mild anxiety. Eating a balanced diet and incorporating foods that can lower anxiety can help stabilize your mood.
A special note on hydration and eating – It can be easy to forget to do things to take care of yourself, especially after your baby has arrived; the majority of your energy goes towards caring for your baby. It can be helpful to make reminders and post them around areas in your house. Some examples are, “Do I need to drink some water?” Or, “Do I need to eat?” These seem rather simple but easily forgotten. Taking care of your basic needs goes a long way in protecting your mental health.
4. Take Time for Yourself
As hard as carving time out for yourself as a new mom can be, creating some time for self-care is an absolute must when it comes to anxiety. Whether it’s yoga classes or scheduling an hour a month for a massage appointment, make sure you plan time in your busy schedule to take care of yourself Remember, you and your baby are a system; taking care of you takes care of your baby.
5. Rely on Family and Friends
We know that sometimes it’s family and friends who notice your anxiety is creeping up before you do. It can be so hard to know what “normal” worry is and what is not during this time. It can be helpful to let trusted family and friends know what to look for when it comes to your unique signs of anxiety. For example, some women may isolate when they are anxious, some may become irritable, some may not be able to sleep or eat, and some may have a combination of all these. Letting a trusted family or friend know what to look for can help you get connected to care sooner.