Tips for combating anxiety during the coronavirus outbreak while pregnant
- Find a ‘coping strategy’ – basically anything that makes you happy and takes your mind off the stressful situation at hand. The key to high intensity stress during these uncertain times is dialling it back so it becomes manageable. While we can’t always control stressful situations, there are some steps you can take to combat anxiety. It is okay to take a deep breath, talk to a friend about how you are feeling, laugh, read a book, sing, play with your pets, learn a new skill like baking bread… anything that makes you happy and helps you connect with another person.
- While people may self-isolate out of fear of getting sick, it can be hugely beneficial to keep in touch and stay connected despite not attending in-person events. Whether this is through telephone calls, text messaging or other online ways, playing games together (e.g. Tabletop Simulator is an online based game simulator with a range of free board games), having that human connection can go a long way.
- While it is important to know what is happening, fear and anxiety may drive some people to check the news obsessively, which could cause further anxiety.
Maintaining a balance on media intake may be helpful for you and your family, whether this means not checking the news first thing in the morning or at bedtime.
- Access quality information such as the World Health Organization or your provincial health authority’s website. Unfortunately, social media can be a source of both quality information and misinformed information that causes unnecessary panic, so practising mindfulness on how you take in information can help reduce anxiety.
- Exercise – Can you exercise even if you are staying indoors? Make it fun by pumping up the music or follow along to an aerobics or Zumba video. Try Pilates, yoga, or tai chi. Do you own a stationary bike or have small weights? Moderate levels of exercise are excellent for reducing stress and releasing endorphins.
- Try to get 7-8 hours sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep interferes with your ability to deal with stress.
Adequate sleep can help you face each day with more calmness and reduce anxiety and depression in pregnancy and beyond.
- Try not assume. To help create and maintain a positive sense of community wellbeing for everybody, try to remember that the stress and virus can affect anyone, regardless of ethnicity or nationality.
- While it is reasonable to be concerned and keep tabs on what is happening, try to remember that researchers, medical staff, and public health experts all over the world are working hard to contain the virus, help those affected and develop a vaccine. In Canada alone, the federal government has given out $26.8 million in research grants to 47 university-based teams studying the virus and developing treatments.
Even though this is a stressful time, we are all in this together and will come through on the other side – together.
Dr. Dawn Kingston, Canada’s leading expert on perinatal mental health and for over ten years, has been at the forefront of research on how to prevent postpartum depression. Her team has developed the HOPE App which is designed to significantly reduce prenatal anxiety and depression and directly support expectant mothers. They are studying it in a massive implementation study, one of the most ambitious projects of this type ever!