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- Physical activity is very helpful way to manage anxiety and low mood.
- The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the ‘flight-fight-freeze’ response, which floods the body with adrenaline and other stress chemicals.
- Exercise burns up stress chemicals and promotes relaxation.
- Try to do some physical activity at least three to four times every week.
- If you also have depression this might be very difficult as you are unlikely to feel motivated. But aim to try a small amount of exercise starting with say, a ten minute walk each morning and building up gradually.
Have a good sleep routine
- Sleep will obviously be disrupted during late pregnancy as you become more uncomfortable or if you have a newborn baby.
- However it is important to have a good sleep/wake cycle.
- Try to develop a good bedtime routine which gives you time to unwind before bed (e.g. a nice warm bath).
- Try to keep bedtime and wake times relatively regular (e.g. go to bed by 10pm and up by 8am - give or take an hour).
- Good sleep routines are particularly important if you have a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. (See the section on Biopsychosocial Rhythms or the Fact Sheet on Sleep Hygiene).
Structured problem solving
- Learn how to break down a problem into its various components.
- Then decide on a course of action.
- This is a valuable skill that can help manage generalised anxiety and depression.
- This is particularly important for those people who are ‘worriers’ and tend to fret about a problem rather than actively solve it.
- See the Fact Sheet on Problem Solving Strategy.
- By planning activities for specific times in advance most important things get done.
- This relieves stress and brings a sense of achievement.
- It is particularly important to plan pleasant things and/or time out for yourself when you have a young baby.
- If it doesn’t get planned (i.e. put in the diary and childcare organised) then it doesn’t happen!
- Planned time out helps keeps you well and avoids you reaching crisis point.
- See Fact Sheets for a Weekly Planner to help you schedule activities.
Develop a good support system
- The more social support you have from friends and family, the less vulnerable you will be to anxiety and stress.
- Mothers’ groups can be a good way to connect with other mothers.
- But also be aware that sometimes these groups may not be helpful particularly if you find you are constantly comparing yourself negatively to other mothers or your baby with other babies.
- It is important to spend as much time as possible with people who make you feel good and who are emotionally supportive.
Find what works best for you for those times when you feel down or anxious.
It is helpful to develop a list of things which help you and that you can keep pinned to the fridge.
Your list might include:
Take the baby for a walk.
Have a hot shower.
Place yourself to see (or be in) the sunshine.
Enjoy art, sculpture and other forms of creativity.
Write how you are feeling in a diary.
Have a bubble bath.
Listen to your favourite music.
Ring a friend.
Ask a family member or friend to come and give you some time out.
Try to look your best
Be as cheerful as you can, and dress to make yourself happy or satisfied.
Communicate with others
Think about who, and how you want help from others.
Try to be clear about what help you would like from family and friends and communicate in the best way you can, for example, through words, writing, or drawing.
- If prescribed medicines, continue to take the correct amounts until you are able to discuss it with your doctor and together you agree on a change.
- If you are concerned about side-effects that may be due to your medication, contact your doctor to discuss this.
- Do not stop taking your medication unless you think you are having a very severe reaction to it. If this occurs seek urgent medical help.
- Compile a list of medicines for your main care-giver and update this list as the medicines change, and as you get well.