Helen Wingstedt is a stress specialist who runs Stress Spot and believes that positive stress, rather than the more destructive negative stress, can help you to solve problems and achieve your goals. I was interested in how she felt this applied to pregnancy, especially when there's already a toddler in the house...
Being pregnant is one of the the simplest and most enjoyable experiences in life and also one of the most stressful, particularly if you have a toddler to care for at the same time. You worry about your unborn child, you worry about giving birth and then you have to deal with the huge life change the new arrival will bring as well.
Added to that, your concerns will stretch to how your toddler will react to the new addition, how you’ll cope with juggling two very different routines and if you’ll manage to get enough sleep to keep you functioning.
Your mind worries when its questions aren’t being answered and its problems aren’t being solved. Not being prepared can turn a positive experience into a nightmare leaving you feeling more niggled and distracted by negative stress with each passing day.
Top stress specialist Helen Wingstedt believes mums need to understand the role positive stress plays during pregnancy in order to be happy and well prepared for the day baby arrives and of course, to juggle the demands of a toddler.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months or even years then your mind has succeeded in its primary function – solving problems and ensuring you achieve what you want in life. When a very big goal is achieved the feel good factor or natural high can be almost euphoric – enjoy it, those kind of major life successes and stress dumps don’t come around that often.
Take A Break
Now one of your major life goals has been achieved your mind will be dumping a huge amount of stress; positive stress if you’ve been trying for a short whole and negative stress if you’ve been trying and failing for years. Dumping stress – negative or positive - is akin a surge of ‘happiness’ and even euphoria followed by tiredness and the need to recover – it’s extremely important so allow yourself too.
Enjoy the fact that you’ve succeeded – you’re pregnant! Recognise what you’ve achieved and acknowledge the support you’ve had in life that’s enabled you to be successful in starting a family. People rarely sit back and take the time to properly recognise their achievements before planning the next step of the journey and generating the positive stress that goes with it.
Make The Most Of Those Nine Months
Being pregnant while looking after a toddler is undoubtedly hard work – so why not make it a bit easier for yourself by planning lots of fun activities and play dates? Not only will this keep your little one well entertained, it gives you the chance to catch up with other mums and enjoy the one on one time you have with your child. Why not set yourself a weekly challenge to do something you think about but never seem to get round to? Maybe a teddy bears picnic, a sports day for your toddler and their friends, a bouncy castle party or a trip to the local farm or kiddies theme park. The stress of organising the day out will create the fun that follows.
If being ready for baby is your big concern, make yourself a list of all the questions you need answered and the problems you need to solve pre and post pregnancy (where will baby sleep, which buggy will I use, how will I schedule my day etc..) and give each one an end date. Likewise, think about how you’ll cope with a newborn and an active toddler. Do you need to book childcare sessions, do you have friends and family nearby who can help out in the early days and how are you going to make sure you toddler doesn’t feel put out when the baby arrives? Solve them or ditch them – both will allow the stress to be dumped which will make you much happier in the long run and ensure you’re less stressed once your baby arrives.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find it harder to maintain the workload you were used to pre-pregnancy. Finding the energy you need to complete your daily tasks can be difficult but there is a way to consciously create it. Identify three achievable tasks a day and do the one you least want to do first. Completing it will allow your mind to dump a huge amount of stress and generate a buzz which will enable you to fly through the rest.
Put Your Feet Up
Answering questions and solving problems in advance means you’ll be well prepared so don’t worry that you won’t be and avoid taking time time out as a result. Your mind will benefit from being parked for a while and distracted with other subjects and activities for example, reading a book, watching a DVD, or even a trip to the park. Once time out is over your mind will naturally ‘unpark’ itself and allow you to continue with the tasks at hand.
Get somebody else involved
Those early days are stressful and tiring so think about enlisting the help of others. That could be a helping hand from grandparents or your siblings, or it could mean booking childcare sessions to allow you time to bond with your new baby. It will also give you some time out when baby arrives and give your toddler something new to look forward to. Getting help in itself is a form of success and it gets you closer to a finding a solution.
Thanks to Helen Wingstedt for this guest post. For more of Helen’s stress tips visit www.StressSpot.co.uk or read her articles.