Everyone gets stressed. In fact, our bodies and brains are designed to handle certain amounts of stress. But when reasonable stress turns into unmanageable stress, problems can occur. When it comes to stress, terms like "reasonable" and "unmanageable" are unique to the individual experiencing the situation. Some signs you might be too stressed are if you're experiencing mental and/or physical symptoms that make you feel worse or not like yourself.
High level and/or chronic stress can impact every system in your body, including your developing baby. Research has found that high or chronic levels of stress during pregnancy can impact the expression of genes in baby by turning on or silencing certain traits that can impact behavior and learning after birth. Intense stress during pregnancy can also increase your risk of having a premature birth. If you are experiencing a major life event that's causing undue stress, or experiencing chronic stress, first and foremost, talk to your doctor to get professional support right away. Additionally, try one or more of the following stress coping strategies.
Find a qualified therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. Major stress is more than what we can handle. Make an appointment with a professional trained to help you cope with and reduce major stress.
Exercise. If you can find the space and energy, take some time to exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk helps by producing endorphins, your body's natural stress busters.
Connect with someone you love/enjoy every day. Spend in-person time with and/or talk a person you enjoy in your circle on a daily basis. Texting counts!
Attend a yoga or meditation class. Yoga and meditation are proven to reduce stress. Find a class near you or find a good yoga or meditation video on YouTube to practice with.
Get outside every day. Simply changing your environment from indoors to outside can instantly improve your mood. Bonus if you can be around trees or a garden. Aim to spend at least 15 minutes in nature.
Get support. Humans operate best when in the support of and interaction with other humans. Call on your closest people to talk, cry, laugh, and lend a hand during your time of need.
Journal. Writing helps you offload the heavy things you're carrying in a literal and symbolic way. Getting stress out of your brain and onto paper can really make you feel lighter!