Recent research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical Center revealed that stress during pregnancy increases the child’s risk for asthma. Stress in the mother triggers an immune response, evidenced in the cord blood collected at birth, possibly later heightening their response to inhaled antigens. It stands to reason, therefore, that reducing stress during pregnancy can only have a positive effect on both the baby and the mother.
Most of us immediately want to remove the source of the stress. Sometimes it is simple enough as hiring a babysitter for a few hours or telling someone to mind their own business. But often times, the source of the stress is much more complicated. That does not mean we cannot reduce or eliminate it, it just means we may have to change the way we approach it mentally, physically and emotionally.
If the situation that is causing you stress is beyond your control, embracing your lack of control is what may actually help you to stop worrying about it. First, look for a solution. Make a plan to eliminate the problem. Once you have done everything you can (even if that means nothing), resign yourself to make the best of the situation. For example, one of the sources of stress listed in the study was poverty. Let’s say you cannot pay all of your utilities. If you are unable to make more money and you can’t reduce your usage anymore, you have already called the company and explained your situation, then pay what you are able and refuse to think about it the rest of the time. Thinking about your lack of money will not make more money, nor will it pay your bill. I know this from experience. There is absolutely no benefit to dwelling on what you cannot fix. Focus on the day to day. Make a list of what you do have and enjoy in your life. Gratitude is proven to reduce stress.
Sometimes stress comes from a series of single incidents. They are not necessary things that can be undone or expected to happen again, but they stress us out anyway. A perfect example is a speeding ticket…. followed by leaving the dome light on and killing the battery…. followed by forgetting to let the dog out and finding poop on your new carpet. That kind of day would stress anyone out! It would be pretty difficult to find something that you can be grateful about in light of these incidents. Relief comes in the form of humor instead. If you can’t fix it and you can’t ignore it, at least you can laugh about it. Tragedies make the best comedies. Imagine your life is a sitcom and you are watching it from an objective viewpoint. You would probably laugh at your circumstances. Sometimes that’s all we can do!
When gratitude and laughter fail to alleviate your stress, a little therapy may be in order. I’m not talking about lying on a couch here, I’m talking about retail therapy, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy. Shopping, sweet smelling candles and a warm bubble bath easily melt all kinds of everyday stresses.
What kinds of things do you do to reduce your stress?