Pregnancy is often stressful on its own. Add the stress of the holiday season and you might be left feeling even more overwhelmed.
Need a moment?
Here are 5 things you can do to find a moment of peace in the midst of a busy season.
As always, the antidote to any anxiety is turning to the Prince of Peace. We can call on Jesus to help us when we feel like the world is turning too quickly. If your mind is spinning, try opening the Bible and meditating on one verse. The book of Psalms is a good place to start. One of the most quoted, and for good reason, is Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And rid yourself of the mindset that all prayer needs to last a long time. Often, we set ourselves up for failure by setting expectations that are too challenging. The hardest part of any endeavor is starting, so make a goal of focusing on God beginning with just 1 minute and then allow yourself to go from there.
One of the most challenging parts of pregnancy is sometimes feeling like you can’t take a deep breath. As the baby grows, the angle of the rib cage changes and your diaphragm has less room to move. Often, this leads to taking shallow breaths, which in turn sends the nervous system into more of a “fight or flight” mode.
There are entire books on breathing but start with this. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds while allowing your rib cage to move out to the front, to each side, and backward; then exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 4. Again, start with one minute (maybe while focusing on scripture!) and then increase the time as you are able.
3) Put on Mood Music
Not that kind of mood – although that might help too 😉 There is scientific evidence linking music to mood. Feeling sad? Find yourself a playlist to lift your spirits. Feeling anxious? Listen to a calming medley (and maybe try breathwork along with it). There are so many services from Spotify to Amazon that offer free playlists to their users (Here are some I’ve been enjoying lately: The Lazy Genius Best Holiday Music Library Ever). From Christian to Christmas to Classical, there are options aplenty to help soothe your soul or get you groovin’.
As a bonus, dancing can help you connect to your pelvis and help get you ready for giving birth. So turn on the tunes, whether upbeat or calming and allow yourself to enjoy even if you’re in the midst of tackling another task.
4) Downsize the To-do List
Speaking of tasks, part of the fun of Christmas, of course, is celebrating all the traditions of the season. From decorating the tree to making gingerbread houses, there are so many fun things to do. But sometimes all these activities leave us feeling more frazzled than fulfilled.
In a season of life where your body is changing and fatigue is often high, pause and ask yourself what you actually enjoy doing to celebrate Christ’s coming.
Maybe you love giving baked goods to friends and family, but the thought of standing on your feet all day in a hot kitchen sends you into a bit of a meltdown (pun intended). Perhaps you could give out cookie mix in a jar this year instead. Or maybe you love “decking the halls” but you know you don’t have the energy to put up all the decor you normally do.
Is there one area that really makes you smile? Start there and give yourself some grace if that’s where you stop.
5) Ask for Help
To follow the thought of doing only what actually brings you and your family joy, pregnancy is also a great time to remember we can’t do this life on our own. Like the example of decorating above, maybe you can hire someone to do this for you or enlist a trusted friend. Start practicing saying “yes” when people ask if they can help. Make a list of tasks that you feel comfortable letting someone else help with – like laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. This way when someone asks, “How can I help?”, you’ll actually have an answer!
Perhaps the most challenging part of this for many women is feeling okay with receiving assistance. Sometimes we think we have to do it all. But God made us for community. So if someone offers to help, take them at their word and stop wondering if they’re just trying to be nice. Allow others the gift of serving. Even Jesus allowed others the joy of serving Him meals and washing His feet. If He could humble Himself, how much more can we.
Gifts of the Season
Being pregnant is a gift any time of the year. But it’s especially beautiful to reflect on as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Remember, even if it feels nothing is going to plan, you can trust in Him. He knows exactly what you and your baby need even without you asking (Mt 6:8).
P.S. Want more on dealing with anxiety? Check out this post