Mental health and wellbeing is very close to our hearts, and while we truly aim to have an always-on approach to covering all aspects of mental health, we have chosen to shine an extra bright light on #WorldMentalHealth today, and for the rest of October.
We bring you The Big Burn Out — a content series made up of honest personal essays, expert advice and practical recommendations.
I've suffered from anxiety since college and was prescribed medicine to take as needed for panic attacks. I rarely ever need the medication, but there are definitely times it's necessary to keep my sanity. So when my husband and I began talking about having a baby, I wasn't superthrilled with the idea of taking certain medications while pregnant.
My doctor said taking my small prescribed dose while pregnant if I was having a full blown panic attack outweighed the stress my body goes through when experiencing such high levels of anxiety. But since I still didn't want to have to take anything, I needed to find a way to keep my anxiety at bay during what should be a joyful (but was also kinda stressful) time in my life. That's when I found meditation.
Being pregnant for the first time comes with a lot of unknowns, and I don't do well with unknowns. I'm a planner. I like to know what's happening. But every pregnancy is different, and we can only predict what may happen from one moment to the next. This was hard for me, and I found myself constantly falling into a hole of "what ifs." What if there's something wrong? What if I have a panic attack when I go into labour? What if I'm not a good mother? And the scariest — what if I lose the baby? All these questions did was fuel my anxiety, and in order to push them away, I had to focus in on myself through meditation.
I learned to acknowledge my fears and anxieties and then . . . let them go.
I learned to meditate through using guided meditations. I downloaded podcasts, videos, and audio books on meditation and began to find my groove. Most begin with focusing on your breathing, then move to scanning your body for tension and your mind for stressful thoughts. I learned to acknowledge my fears and anxieties and then . . . let them go. I started to feel so peaceful during the meditations and slowly, the peacefulness carried over into my daily life. I wasn't just calm while meditating; I was calm whenever stressful situations arose.
For my next pregnancy, I found a medical childbirth hypnosis program, which was based on the foundation of meditation I used during my first pregnancy. I was able to still my body and mind and take in the affirmations and cues from the meditative hypnosis tracks, which gave me the most wonderful pregnancy I could have hoped for.
I never would have thought that meditation was for me. I was an anxious, on-the-go planner, and the thought of sitting still and taking deep breaths just seemed like a waste of time. But I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it's exactly what I needed to quiet my anxiety and have a healthy pregnancy and now life.