If you’re pregnant…
1. Verbalise your fear
If you’re anxious about something, verbalise it, then ponder on the odds of it not happening. For instance, if you’re worrying about pre-eclampsia — which occurs in one in 10 pregnancies — focus on the fact that it doesn’t happen in nine pregnancies.
2. Have a release
On top of your everyday pressure, you now stress about pregnancy. So, avoid a meltdown by releasing the pressure. “Aim for 10- to 20-minute-long bursts of stress-busting physical activity — a 20-minute swim in the morning, a walk at lunchtime, then pregnancy yoga in the evening,” says Neil Shah, who wrote The 10-Step Stress Solution. “If you give yourself an opportunity to burn off stress, it won’t reach crisis point.”
3. Talk about it
It’s normal to feel anxious during pregnancy, assures Dr Adrian Wang, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, “Talk to experienced mums or learn about pregnancy from your doctor.” Or simply “seek reassurance and understanding from your husband” by talking about it.
If you’re on maternity leave…
4. Calm yourself
If you’re having a new-mum wobble (yep, we all have them), fool your body into thinking it’s relaxing. “Remind yourself that you don’t have to be the perfect mum, there’s no set mantra to follow as long as you don’t compare yourself to others,” Dr Wang advises.
5. Find help
If your delivery was traumatic, give yourself some time to settle, suggests Dr Wang. “A traumatic birth can lead to postnatal depression. If you’re still anxious after a month, seek help from a counsellor to make you feel more settled,” he adds.
6. You’re good enough
“Stop concentrating on what you haven’t done and be proud of what you are doing,” says Anjula Mutanda, author of How to Do Relationships. “Look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m good enough.” After all, who cares if you haven’t cooked every purée from scratch?
7. Compliment other mums
With old friends at work, build new networks — usually with other mums — as strong social networks help beat stress. “First impressions count,” Dr Wang points out. “Saying something positive stimulates further conversation and puts the other person at ease.”
If you’re a stay-at-home mum…
1. Count to 90
Stay calm by counting to 90 if your toddler is being difficult. Research shows that it takes 90 seconds for an emotion to surge through us. Once it has left your system, it’s easier to stay in control.
2. Peel and orange
Research at the University of Vienna found that the scent of oranges reduces feelings of anxiety.
3. Speak out
After a tough day with the kids, you’d just like to unload on your spouse. But men often look for solutions, instead of just letting you vent your feelings. “Start by saying you just need him to listen,” Shah advises. This can make all the difference and prevent you from getting frustrated with each other.
4. Make time for yourself
It’s easy to de-prioritise yourself when you’re at home with your children. “But fun is the best way to get rid of stress,” Clark points out. “Jot down five things that you enjoy — and make sure you have time for them.” And if nothing jumps out, there’s always that classic combo of ice cream and a Game Of Thrones session.
5. Calm career anxieties
Worrying about a career return can become an obsession, but you’ll keep this in check if you focus on do-able actions. “Think, what I can do to reduce my worry and improve the situation.” Clark suggests. By taking action, you’ll feel more positive.