As you know my studio is closed and I find myself in a position where I am really missing lots of things about my job. The main thing I am missing is the people who walk through my door! The smiles, the adoration of their new baby, their pregnancy and birth stories and in 6 years I’ve NEVER tired of this, it gives me a real buzz! I was also acutely aware that being pregnant, giving birth and living with a new baby at home, during lockdown, is extremely scary. So I decided I wanted to help.
I created a group on Facebook called Lockdown Babies : Support for Pregnant and New Mums : North East
This group is designed to bring together ladies who are in a unique situation and dealing with childbirth and a new baby during a Pandemic. At the time of writing there are over 200 local ladies in the group and I am over the moon to read the positive birth stories from ladies who have given birth at local hospitals over the last week or so! It’s really helping those who are about to give birth by reassuring them that the birth experience is not as scary as they are imagining. There are also hints and tips on a range of topics from online resources to cooking tips.
One thing that has stood out most from reading the posts in my group is the level of anxiety you are all feeling. I thought I would pull together some tips and techniques to help with relaxation.
If you’re currently stuck at home, you may be feeling demoralised about what this will mean for your fitness. Whether you were training for a marathon (which has subsequently been cancelled) or enjoy working out at the gym (which has been closed until further notice), it can be tough to think of putting your usual routine on hold. Evidence shows that being physically active can protect people against depression and anxiety as it causes chemical changes in the brain which can positively alter mood. It also brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
If you’re feeling sad about having to miss your usual class, it’s worth checking in with your favourite teacher or studio, to see if they’re continuing their scheduling online.
But you don’t need any special equipment or a class, just pop a coat on and go for a walk if you are feeling anxious. Walking improves fitness, cardiac health alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture. Don’t forget to look for rainbows!
Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing, so think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while needing to stay at home. One of the biggest issues caused by the lockdown procedures is not seeing friends and family. Of course when you have a new baby you naturally want baby to meet the rest of the family and family members are desperate to meet them! So use Facetime to keep in touch with family members so they can see baby and join in with bathtime, bedtime etc. Another great app is Zoom which is great for getting a group of people together.And the good new is it’s free for gatherings of up to 100 people up to 40 mins and I’ve seen families having lunch together or taking part in quizzes and hosting birthday parties online. With technology we are all connected. I’ve also been introduced to the Houseparty by my 12 and 14 year old nieces and it’s great fun for playing games with your friends and family.
Photo credit : Kirsty Watson
I think we all know music can be a source of pleasure and entertainment, but there are many psychological health benefits as well. Whether you are depressed, stressed or even unable to sleep well, music can eliminate all these negative symptoms and improve your mood. If you ever felt boosted up while listening to your favourite fast-paced rock music or been moved to tears by a tender song, then you can easily understand the power of music that impact moods and even inspire action. My lovely friend Sharon bought me a record player for my birthday and I’ve been listening to some of the records I had when I was younger!
During the lockdown I’ve seen some fun music related activities and some of these might appeal to you!
Silent Disco Newcastle are doing ‘Social – Dis- Dancing events and the last one looked like loads of fun.
If piano music is your thing then check out Mark Deeks and his Pop up Piano events, the first two were amazing and very interactive.
Multiminded Music run really fab music event locally (you can find me on the dancefloor regularly!) and they’ve gone online during lockdown!
4. Switch off TV and social media
It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information and ‘noise’ from social media and TV at the moment. You might want to consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.
You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to a couple of checks a day.
5. Relaxation Tips from the experts!
Ann Ball is a full time complementary therapist and tutor specialising in fertility, pregnancy and post natal women, a doula and a hypnobirthing instructor based in Durham. She has very kindly shared some relaxation techniques specifically for pregnant ladies but I am sure they work for everyone! Please also check out her social media pages as she has some amazing resources and online classes too. Click here >>> LoveBumpBaby
BUBBLE OF CONTENTMENT
You can torture yourself listening to the news on repeat or you can do what I have my hypnobirthing clients do and put themselves in a bubble or imagine a forcefield around them. Limit your news intake, start blocking negativity on social media. Follow positive people.
This is not burying your head in the sand and hoping things change when you come up for air, this is emotional survival.
I highly recommend following Milli Hill author of the positive birth.
RUB AN ORANGE
Essential oils are derived from the peel or fruit. Scratching your finger over a lemon, an orange or a mandarin will release its natural oils. Inhale the aroma and have a moment of joy.
PRESS YOUR SERENITY SPOT
You have something called the solar plexus just under your diaphragm and it’s a network of nerve endings. That butterfly feeling you get when you are distressed or worried is the nerve endings reacting. You have a point in the centre of your hand which is the reflexology reflex point for solar plexus.
How to locate it:
Take your thumb to the centre under the middle finger, or fold your fingers and top of hand over. The centre point is the solar plexus.
Rainbows are a symbol that will be etched in our memories for the rest of our lives at this COVID-19 time. Walk the street and you will see rainbows in windows.
Breathing slowly and deeply is good for your mental health and makes baby feel relaxed too.
Look at a rainbow picture or imagine one in your mind’s eye, trace the outer red arch up to the top as you breathe in and as you breathe out come down to the other side.
Repeat for orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
7 beautiful breaths.
REPEAT A MANTRA
A mantra is an affirmation, it’s a positive statement.
Try saying something like “I am calm” or “Peace is around me”.
Repeat it 7 times. Write it down and place it on the windowsill, on the mirror in the bathroom, inside the cupboard where you keep your coffee.
6. Talk about your worries
From the NHS website…
It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too.
If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips useful!
Stay Safe Everyone x