5 Steps to Help Pregnant Moms Handle Holiday Stress

by Laurel Wilson and Tracy Wilson Peters

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It’s that time of the year again! The holidays are upon us.

We are inundated with television commercials portraying loving and happy families where everyone gets along and enjoys one another’s company.

But for some of us this is not the reality of family time during the holidays. This season can bring added stress due to increased expenses and extra time spent with certain family members who may not necessarily bring us tidings of comfort and joy.

You are not alone if the holidays seem more stressful than peaceful. We all can feel challenged with certain family members. With the increased stress of the holidays you might wish you could partake in extra eggnog. The good news is that it is possible to experience peace on Earth, even with our family!

During pregnancy, it is especially important to reduce stress. So how do you do this with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the added stress of family gatherings where everyone may not be getting along?

The solution involves shifting from reacting to your situation to observing your situation. You can chose to simply observe your environment and people’s behavior without actively plugging in to the emotional drama. It is very empowering to make the choice to not engage in actions around you and avoid getting sucked in to the negativity. 

Imagine it in this way - you are watching a movie where the actors are playing family members who are fighting, bickering, and engaging in stressful behavior. As you watch the movie, you don’t become stressed, because you are merely observing the movie. You are staying disengaged emotionally. 

When you are with your family, you tend to react emotionally because of your history together. However, it is your choice to disengage from any negative emotions. Just move into the observer mode when you feel yourself becoming stressed.  Pretend you are the producer of the scene, and just watch what is happening.

By choosing to become an observer you are practicing self-love and therefore, love for your baby. When expectant mothers feel stress the hormone cortisol is release into the bloodstream and passes through the placenta. In this way, your stress is also being experienced by your baby. There is no way to avoid all stress but by choosing not to “plug in” when in a negative environment you are choosing to minimize the effect of stress on you and your baby.

Over the holidays as you visit with members of your family, some will inspire joy while you may react to others with a stress response. Remember to be conscious about how you are feeling. Shift into being an observer rather than a participant.

The steps below can be used to help you enjoy your time with family and friends.

1. Before gathering, take a few minutes to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and set a peaceful intention for yourself.

2. Spend a few moments focusing on moving into a state of gratitude for your family and friends.3. As you arrive, remind yourself to be consciously aware of your own responses during conversations.

4. When you notice behavior that elicits a stress response, try and remove yourself or distance yourself from the stressor. If you cannot distance yourself then remind yourself that you do not need to engage in the behavior.

5. Stay in a space of gratitude and count your blessings.

 

Ultimately, it is always your choice how you react to your family. The time during pregnancy is precious gift that deserves your special attention and care. By consciously choosing peaceful interactions during the holidays you can ENJOY this season with your extended family, as well as, the one you are creating!

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