Did you know that a distorted perception of your pregnancy, comparing yourself to others, and negative self-talk are major contributors to stress and anxiety? Another cause of stress and anxiety is living in the past or projecting into the future.
Living in the past or projecting into the future disconnects you from yourself and your present moment. Pain (stress, anxiety, worry, grief, etc.) is the derived from this disconnection. The further away you are from the present moment and the more deeply you are engaging and reacting to the past or future, the greater the pain.
The past and future can keep you from experiencing joy in the moment. It can keep you from experiencing peace in the moment. Disconnecting from the present moment can cause pain.
Past experiences can cause stress and anxiety in your present moment.
Your past experiences can be a cause of intense pain. Sometimes remembering and dwelling on the past can make you have the exact same feeling today that the negative incident did in the past. It is like reliving the past over and over again. How you manage the painful memories has a lot to do with your emotional health today.
Previous pregnancy loss or a difficult pregnancy can cause painful feelings today. Fear of the past can cause stress and worry, even if your current pregnancy is going just fine. If you experienced fertility challenges in the past, and are newly pregnant, you can be thinking of all the time in the past when you couldn’t get pregnant and feel stress about that. This keeps you from embracing the current pregnancy.
If you had a traumatic previous birth experience or other trauma in the past, this can cause a lot of stress and even physical pain in your present moment. The past trauma can even manifest in pain today even if you don’t consciously know that cause of the pain. Unprocessed trauma can show up in very sneaky ways.
Worrying about the future can also cause stress and anxiety in your present moment.
A popular acronym for fear is, false evidence appearing real. The key word here is false because the evidence or interpretation or prediction is not real. It appears real because of the emotional reactions to the thoughts. It can be tricky.
Unfortunately, there are so many elements of mainstream society that encourage mothers to fear birth. It’s natural to have some reservations about the unknown, and for a first-time mom, birth is a big unknown experience. And her feelings of fear and worry about labor and birth can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in her present moment.
The fear of being a good parent and the fear of providing financially can cause a lot of worry. The fear of being completely responsible for a new little being can be daunting. The fear of loss and death during the birth process can also be overwhelming. When a woman thinks of a future catastrophic event, her body reacts to the event as though it were real.
A woman can even get into an argument with her partner about what she thinks he might say or do in the future, even if it is not even a reality. Constantly projecting into the future and imagining bad things can cause inner tension in a woman and outer tension manifested in strained relationships.
Here are some simple ways to come into the present moment.
1. Deepen Your Breathing
Slowing down the breath and becoming aware of your breathing is one of the fastest ways to come into the present moment. Deep breaths can also slow the pulse down if you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxety. Breathe in deeply for four counts and out slowly for eight counts. Become aware of your breath by feeling it fill up your lungs. Feel the air going in and out. Feel your lungs expand and contrast. Invite in peace and serenity with every breath in, and release tension, worry and pain with every exhale. I know this sound simple, but it works. You have access to deep breathing at any time. No one even has to know you’re doing it.
Check out this guided meditation on breath awareness.
2. Be the Observer
Being an objective observer in your life is one of the most powerful tools to utilize to maintain emotional well-being. Being the observer is a way to step off of the emotional roller coaster and reaction mode to simply look at what is happening. You step back and observe. This is powerful because it brings you into the present moment.
3. Scan the Body
Anxiety and stress will often manifest in physical pain or tension in the body – headaches, neck pain, muscle soreness, stiffness, cough/cold, back pain, etc. Other physical signs of stress is elevated pulse, rapid breathing, chills/hot flashes, jitteriness, etc. Find a quiet place, sit or lay down if possible.
Begin scanning the body from toes and bottoms of the feet. You will direct all your attention and awareness to your feet. Breathe directly into your feet. Notice if there is any tension. Release the tension when you exhale.
You will do that with every body group – feet, ankles, legs, knees, thighs, and so on. You’ll scan from the tippie toe to the top of your crown. This pulls you into the present moment and allows you to be observant of what is going on in the body. You can identify where is stress manifesting and release it.
4. Acknowledge Any Pain
There is power in acknowledging pain. This is more of an observer approach than a reactionary approach. I call it, shining a light on the pain.
I think of old pain sometimes as mold. It can really grow in the dark but if you put it in the sun, it gets zapped away.
To acknowledge the pain, describe the pain to yourself or out loud. Acknowledge where you’re feeling it and how it affecting your body. Decide what you want to do with the pain. If it’s in the past, think about what you needed in that moment and give it to yourself now.
Were you ignored? Pay attention to yourself now.
Were you bullied? Give yourself a hug.
Were you violated? Forgive yourself now. It was not your fault. Give yourself a hug.
What ever happened in the past, you can focus on what your present opportunities are. Acknowledge that you are in a safe place.
5. Describe the Day
Describing the day brings you quickly into the present moment. Say something like “My name is Tonya. Today is January 1, 2016 and I am safe. The time is 4:56 pm. The sun is shining outside. I hear birds. The sky is clear. There is a slight breeze. I’m in Mobile, AL on Lee Street. I am in my home.”
Your power and potential resides in the present moment. In the present moment, you control your life.
Written by: Freya Morani