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Stress Management & Coping Skills

Stress is a normal part of life for everyone--and not all stress is bad.  However, when you begin feeling out of control or have trouble coping with stressors, your emotional and physical health may suffer.  During your pregnancy, it is important to look ahead and anticipate what added stressors you might have once your baby is born. You can also find ways of identifying the stress in your life and then make a plan for dealing with it in a healthy way.

1. Assess and identify your current and expected future stressors
(new job, buying a new house, having a new baby, work stress).

2.  Think about and practice healthy coping skills (exercising, making time for self care; properly managing time; and breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones).

3. Avoid unhealthy coping skills (bingeing on food, alcohol, or drugs; procrastination; avoiding events or work; drinking large amounts of caffeine).

4. Modify your behaviors (be aware of your reaction to stress and practice healthy coping skills at all times - even when stressors aren't present).

5.  Provide a time each day for relaxation. You can decide what relaxation method works best for you (taking a walk; chatting with a friend; reading; taking a bath; using progressive relaxation - focusing on relaxing different parts of your baby one at a time until you are free of tension).

Don't "lose your stripes"!  You CAN deal with stress by using the healthy skills suggested above or by coming up with your own ways to cope.  Just remember, everyone must deal with stress and it's your choice how to react.  If you need more help, reach out to others--your friends and family can be a big help by lending a hand around the house and your doctor may suggest more ways to help you. 

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