When I became pregnant with my second child, it’s as if a hormonal/emotional switch flipped on. Something inside me snapped, and I suddenly became an anxious, paranoid, panic-filled woman. I went from being care free and confident in every aspect of my life, to suddenly wondering if I was fit to be a mother of two, if my marriage was going to suffer, if my career was going down the drain, if my health and advancing age would affect the fetus… the list of paranoid thoughts that filled my brain from the moment I learned I was pregnant was astounding.
I had just discovered I was pregnant, and I was on a business trip in Kelowna, BC when I suffered a health scare so bad, that I called an ambulance and was escorted from my hotel to their local hospital. It turned out that I was just having a panic attack, not a heart attack as I suspected. This was shocking to me, because I had never experienced a panic attack before, and I’ve even experienced a lot of stress in my late twenties, prior to this pregnancy. It was there at the hospital that I received confirmation that I was 6 weeks pregnant.
The night shift nurses were so kind to me, asking if I had support for this pregnancy, suggesting I talk to someone if I felt that I didn’t want to be pregnant… in fact I did want a second child, but I wasn’t quite ready. I had not planned this. I usually plan my next move, and this shocking news made me feel out of control.
I left the hospital 6 hours later confused, and angry that my mind and body had chosen to betray me during this very delicate time. I feared my panic would affect my unborn child negatively. I feared my mental health was deteriorating. I feared I’d suffer from postpartum depression this time… as you can see, that hospital visit started a long list of fears that I had to learn to conquer during my pregnancy.
Being extremely stubborn, I decided I wasn’t going to let my mind affect my body, especially since there was a brand new life growing inside it. I’m a fighter, and if there is any reason to fight, it would be for the well-being of my child.
Throughout my pregnancy, I vowed to myself to never turn to narcotics, but instead find ways to manage my emotions and racing thoughts in order to preserve the health of my baby (and my own health). Here I’ll share with you what I did (what I still do!) and how it worked for me.
1. Magnesium supplements. This has been a life changer for me, and it was something I only discovered I needed while I was pregnant, despite it being an important supplement to take for all women (especially during menstruation). Magnesium has a calming effect, and I found that supplementing with a powdered tea-like magnesium supplement helped me sleep at night and calmed my nerves to ease any anxiety that I may experience the following day. Today, I supplement with a liquid magnesium and calcium blend that I take every morning. It’s delicious, and it keeps anxious thoughts at bay!
2. Exercise. Although it was difficult for me to exercise with my second pregnancy (I had terrible hip pain for most of the pregnancy) I did try my best to move around and be mobile throughout the day. I found that any kind of rhythmic motion (counting arm lifts or footsteps for example) helped distract my overactive brain from reaching that panic point. Now that I’m 10 months post partum, I’ve started a regular fitness routine again, and I’m proud to say the more I exercise the less and less anxiety I feel.
3. CBD. This one may be controversial to some, but it’s helped me a ton. I have CBD oils and e-cigarettes/pens that help me whenever I’m feeling nervous or overwhelmed. Since the rise of e-cigarette and vape health concerns, I haven’t used my pens in a while, but I will be investing in more oils. They truly have a calming effect, without the feeling of being high at all.
4. Word games. I keep an app on my phone that’s filled with word games, such as word searches, anagrams and cross words to keep my mind busy during times that I feel panic setting in. There’s often a point where I can feel the anxiety rising, and I’ll often grab my phone, launch the app, and start playing to calm my nerves before the anxiety has a chance to reach its peak. It truly helps, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed at work, or in a busy place.
5. Meditation. This is one that I’m still working on, and will likely be working on for years and years to come. Because I tend to overthink, and my mind races when I get anxious, getting into a meditative state is difficult for me. However, when all is quiet in the morning, I can usually lay with my eyes closed and repeat a mantra in my head for a few minutes to ensure my day starts off calm.
6. Scents. I’ve heard that scents like peppermint and cracked pepper can instantly reduce feelings of anxiety with a deep sniff (not so sure what the scientific evidence shows, but I tried it anyway!) I keep a Vick’s inhaler in my purse for a quick whiff if I ever feel that I’m spiraling, and during my pregnancy I kept a tiny vial of mint and lavender essential oils in my purse to smell when I was feeling anxious. I’m not quite sure how scents help, but they do! I’ve always found these scents to be calming, and having a quick sniff brings me into a more calm state, or quickly removes me from a state of panic. I have yet to try keeping a shaker of cracked pepper in my purse, but people all over the internet swear by it. I’ll report on that later!
The above points not only help with my random bouts of generalized anxiety disorder, but they also help whenever I am feeling too busy or stressed (because let’s be real- being a mom to 2 young kids is pretty stressful).
If you suffer from anxiety, what do you do to calm your thoughts and feelings?
*Photo courtesy of Hailey Kean on Unsplash.com
*This article originally appeared on medium.com