Pregnancy can present new challenges, especially in the workplace. Sitting in traffic, meeting deadlines or giving presentations can become stressful. Don’t fear – everything is going to be okay! There are strategies and tools you can implement to destress your worklife. Here are eight simple tips to enjoy a working maternity.
1. Deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing a powerful and proven method to destress. For pregnant women, diaphragmatic breathing greatly alleviates not only stress in the workplace, but also many symptoms associated with pregnancy. You need more oxygen when you are pregnant. Your body adjusts to take in more oxygen, but as you approach the later stages of pregnancy and your uterus starts to grow, pressure is put on your diaphragm and that can leave you feeling short of breath. Practicing deep breathing, especially during early pregnancy, can strengthen your diaphragm and prepare it for later stages of pregnancy. A quiet place is best, but you can just put headphones on and do this at your desk. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on deep breathing through your nose for a few minutes. Diaphragmatic breathing encourages full oxygen exchange, clears the mind, and relaxes the body. Do this as many times a day as possible!
2. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to take breaks.
Many people go into work and hit a groove, working through extended periods of time. As a pregnant woman especially, you may feel the urge to prove to yourself and coworkers that you can still get the job done. However, pushing too hard will only leave you feeling exhausted. Take regular breaks. You may feel more tired now because your body is working for two. Set a quiet cell phone or computer alarm every hour to get up, have a brief walk and drink water. You can also use this as a reminder to breathe deeply.
3. Get a massage.
Massage of certain body parts on pregnant woman can significantly reduce stress and encourage wellness. The various changes of pregnancy can decrease blood and lymph circulation, especially of the lower legs. Any certified masseuse can do wonders for your circulation, but for best results see a pregnancy massage expert for this and other relaxation methods.
4. Discuss your needs with your employer and coworkers.
Be honest with yourself and your coworkers about what you can and cannot do. You may not be able to produce as much as you did pre-pregnancy. Be transparent about the amount of time you can invest in projects. Don’t feel obligated to work around the clock and skyrocket your stress level. If you are unable to produce as much work as you did before pregnancy, speak with your co-workers and employer about how you can work most effectively. Communication is key here.
5. Eat well.
Our offices today have an abundance of chips, cookies, soda, and candy at our fingertips. Eating these foods will not sustain you and often actually increase stress. Instead, reach for fruits and veggies. If your sweet tooth is talking to you, reach for fruit or dates. Dates, considered by many to be “nature’s candy”, are also found to ease the birthing process. A 2011 study found that when women ate dates during their last 4 weeks of pregnancy, they had significantly more cervical dilation and a higher proportion of intact membranes.
6. Work from home when you can.
If your job is not a client-facing job, working from home can be a great way to reduce stress for a variety of reasons. For many occupations, the workplace can be an inherently stressful atmosphere. Being around stressed co-workers could compromise your own mindset. Working from home also has the advantages of saving time. No more having to get ready or commute to work. This could free up time for you to sleep in (as women often need to sleep more when pregnant), or just take your time in getting out of bed. Also, if you have someone at home with you while you work, be it a friend, spouse, or parent, then you may be able to ask them for favors you would not be able to ask of a co-worker.
7. Make your workspace YOUR workspace.
Make it a happy place! Have photos of people and places that you associate with wonderful memories and love. Create the space that will provide you with the most comfort. For example, you may request to move to an office space closer to a restroom for convenience. Also, plan ahead and keep fruits, veggies, nuts and water in your workspace to sustain you through the workday. It might also be handy to have a mini-fridge at your desk. If you have a desk job that requires you to sit for extended periods of time, have the desk and seat heights at levels appropriate for full comfort and good posture. Check to see if the Human Resources department at your company can accommodate these requests.
8. Pack a lunch.
Going out to eat can be a taxing endeavor. Travel to the restaurant and standing in line may leave you feeling more tired than you felt when you left the office. Instead, bring your lunch and step outside for some fresh air and sunlight. Have a picnic at a nearby park. Bringing lunch eliminates a lot of unnecessary stress by keeping you in a stable environment. If you need to order a lunch, make sure it is a colorful, well-balanced and ideally plant-based meal. Consider nutritious take-out meals such as a tofu and veggie stir-fry or salad with protein. Your body will guide you to choose the right nutrients, so listen to your gut!
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