Stress is America’s #1 health challenge.  It has been estimated that 75-90  percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems.  It affects fertility as well as the health of your growing baby.  Learn to effectively manage stress for a healthier baby and happier parenting before you actually conceive.   

Cortisol is a life-sustaining hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is termed “the stress hormone.”  It’s typically a good thing, but as you know, too much of a good thing is not a good thing!  When cortisol is elevated for long periods of time, the body goes into defense mode and energy is used for the “emergency” rather than for repair and growth.  This fight or flight response requires higher energy and causes wear and tear on your body’s cells.

How do you reset your adrenal glands to growth mode and decrease the rapid peaks in cortisol?  Here are a few strategies:

  • Physical exercise:  Exercise has the unique capacity to relax and exhilarate. It decreases adrenaline, another stress hormone, and cortisol.  It is effective in treating some anxiety disorders and depression. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators produced in the brain.
  • Faith:  With zero side effects or drug interactions, faith has strengthened and calmed millions of people during stressful times.  Although an abstract concept, the stress reduction and mental improvement is well proven.  I could not have made it through my infertility and numerous miscarriages without my Christian faith.
  • Yoga:  Combining physical poses and controlled breathing, yoga is a mind-body practice that can help reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, and lower your heart rate.  For me, it aids in sleep too!
  • Breathing exercises:  The great thing about breathing exercises is that they force you to be in the moment.  A very simple technique is to breath in slowly through your nose for six counts.  Then, hold for six counts, and then breathe out slowly for nine to twelve counts.  The specific number of counts “are not what counts!”  The objective is to take time to intentionally inhale deeply and exhale slowly, pondering the intake of oxygen.  I like to ponder the incredible design of our magnificent bodies!
  • Nurturing of friendships:  Everything of value requires effort and maintenance.  Keeping friendships in good repair and having even one trusted friend can extend your life by as much as ten years.  We were created for relationship; friendship adds quality and quantity to life!
  • Prayer and meditation:  Taking time to be still can restore your calm and can clear away the information overload that is too common in our world.  Regardless of where you are – in a crowded restaurant or at home snuggled in a warm blanket, you can pray and meditate.  
  • Time in nature:  Getting out and enjoying the wild environment has been shown repeatedly to boost well being. Scientists have proven that natural environments are restorative because they reduce “rumination.”  Rumination is something we can all easily fall into.  It’s that tendency to think about and replay worries or situations.  Interestingly, the word originates from the Latin word “ruminatio” which means “chewing the cud.”  
  • Healthy expression of anger and frustration:  Normal and healthy expressions of emotion, anger and frustration must not be allowed to simmer.  Unexpressed anger increases vulnerability to illness by weakening the immune system.  It can damage the heart and increase cholesterol levels.  Mayo clinic recommends exercise, deep breathing, friendship, among other strategies.  Isn’t it amazing that those are the same things we all need for stress management?  

Pharmaceutical mood enhancers are being prescribed at increasing rates to help people deal with life.  Often, they provide only a “band aid” and don’t deal with the root of the issue.  The negative side effects of these drugs are well-documented.  Cigarettes and alcohol are also commonly used to mask problems.  

A healthy baby starts with a healthy you.   START SOMEWHERE today to identify the stressors in your life and begin developing strategies to effectively deal with them.  Manage stress for a healthier baby.  You can do it.  Just START SOMEWHERE.  

Manage Stress For a Healthier Baby

Manage Stress For a Healthier Baby