Stressed and anxious new mom? These tips will help alleviate the pressure

A new law has been implemented from the 1st of January 2020 allowing parents to take 10 days of paid parental leave after the birth of their child.
A new law has been implemented from the 1st of January 2020 allowing parents to take 10 days of paid parental leave after the birth of their child.

As rewarding as it is being a new mom, it can also be exhausting.

Suddenly you’re responsible for another being who is dependent on you for his every need. And as much joy as he brings it can become a bit tiring.

Stress is a physiological and emotional reaction to the changes that are happening in your life, and it’s completely normal to have days where you feel that you just can’t cope. 

Not only does stress elevate your blood pressure, it also increases your heart rate and muscle tension, and has been implicated as a risk factor in many health problems such as heart disease. As a new mom you’re especially vulnerable because of the changes that your body is already undergoing.

If you don’t find a way to release all the tension you’re feeling, your body and mind can be seriously affected. Look out for the signs of stress - the times when you feel that you’re at the end of your rope - and take steps to relieve it.

Not only will you live a longer and healthier life, but you’ll also be a more effective parent.

Know the signs

- Anger at those making demands 

- Self-criticism for putting up with the demands of friends and family

- Cynicism, negativity, and irritability 

- Being set off by seemingly trivial things

- Frequent headaches and stomach problems 

- Weight loss or gain 

- Sleeplessness and depression 

- Shortness of breath 

- Suspiciousness 

- Feelings of helplessness 

- Increased degree of risk taking 

- Chronic fatigue or constant tiredness and a feeling of being run down

Stress can affect anyone, and suffering from it doesn’t make you a weak person. Recognising the signs of stress means you’re already halfway to fixing the problem. Relieving stress need not be as hard as you think.

Follow these easy steps to help alleviate the pressure.

How to reduce stress

1. Record the process

Keep a journal. Take a bit of time out every day to write about your feelings, your experiences, your hopes and dreams. Remember that there are no rules when it comes to your journal, except honesty.

This is your private collection of un-edited thoughts, so make your journal something you want to write in. Buy an assortment of coloured pens to suit every mood and a pretty book to write in. 

2. Work it out

Exercise not only helps to keep you in shape, it also releases “feel good” hormones, called endorphins, into your system. A half hour’s brisk walk every day is enough to get your heart pumping and feelings of well-being flowing.

It’s been proven that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, which increases the brain’s alpha waves and leads to feelings of calmness and relaxation. Exercise also reduces blood pressure and decreases muscle tension.

3. You are what you eat

It’s been proven that the foods we eat affect our emotions. Eating low fat high carbohydrate food triggers brain chemicals that help calm us when we’re stressed. These are foods such as popcorn, pretzels and rice cakes. Being a busy mom means you often skip meals or forget to eat.

Try to eat food that gives long-lasting energy, like complex carbohydrates or low fat proteins. These include whole grain bread, pasta and fruit, as well as grilled chicken or fish. Remember that foods that are high in fat take longer for your body to digest, which can be draining. Stay away from fried and fast food.

Also read: Would you choose a gender-neutral X on your baby's birth certificate?

4. Dance it off

Music has long been a favourite companion to many. Play music that fits your mood, be it classical, pop or rock. Allow your inner rock star to emerge, lip sync with a hairbrush, pretend you’re filming a music video or work out a dance routine.

Let the music flow over your tired soul for just half an hour, and come back to reality with the beats still bopping in your head.

5. Call a friend

Indulge in a chat with your girlfriends. They’re not only there to share the good times, but also the tough ones.

Being surrounded by your friends provides a sense of comfort and support that you may have been missing. 

6. No woman is an island

It’s important to schedule some time alone. Allow others to bath, dress and feed your baby (use a breast pump or prepare meals beforehand) so that he’s not too dependent on you.

Ask your partner to take your baby out for a morning and spend the time focusing on yourself. Do nothing, watch a soppy love story, read a book or even apply a face mask. Just remember what it’s like to be completely alone and indulge in your solitude. Try carving out a space for yourself.

Find a spot in your home where you have privacy, whether it’s an entire room or just a spot that you’ve made your own.

7. Strengthen your inner self

Take a 20-minute timeout. Meditation is a great method of relieving stress as it reduces blood pressure, slows your breathing, relaxes muscles and refocuses your mind. Let your mind go quiet and focus on only one thing, such as your breathing or a candle flame.

Try to sit in a relaxed position that you’re comfortable in, and visualise strength and renewal flowing through your being with every inhalation.

On every exhalation, focus on breathing out all your stress. Take in only what you need and let go of all the rest. To bring yourself back, slowly become aware of your body, then your surroundings and finally your sense of well-being. 

Also read: Three things new mothers must get rid of immediately

8. Worry time

Save all your cares for 30 minutes of worry time a day. Whenever you have a concern, file it mentally for the part of your day that you’ve set aside for worrying.

When you get to the part of your day that you’ve set aside, try focusing on only the things you have the power to change. Not only will this help you feel better about things, it will also save you time.

9. Take short-cuts

Being a new mom takes up a lot of energy, and you don’t have the time that you used to. Making dinner and cleaning the home are difficult when you’ve got a baby to look after. Stock up on ready-made meals, or order in. Paper plates, although not the prettiest of dinnerware, save on having to wash dishes.

Consider time-saving appliances as an investment for your peace of mind.

Also read: No one asked Meghan Markle if she was ok, and no one asked me either

10. Pamper yourself

Ask your partner to watch your baby while you turn the bathroom into a spa. Light some candles, play some soft music, pour a few oils into the bath and let all the tension of your day float away.

If this isn’t possible, try a few of the beauty rituals that used to make you feel good. Put some lipstick on in the morning, even though you may not have the time to do your hair. Keep your cosmetics in one easy-to-reach place to save time. 

11. Take it to bed

Don’t underestimate the stress-relieving power of sex. As a tired mom it’s probably the last thing you want to do, but satisfying sex leads to deep relaxation.

The power of touch is also an amazing healer, so if you’re too tired, indulge in a massage. Leave your baby at Granny’s for the night and have a “date night” at home.

Chat back:

Share with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24