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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nourish Yourself Outside of Food

This blog post is a bit different from my other ones because it is focused on other types of nourishment other than the food kind. Although what you eat is very important while you are pregnant, it is also almost equally important to nourish your soul. I thought since we are in the middle of the holiday season, which can result in a higher amount of stress and anxiety for a lot of people, that there is no better time than the present (pun intended).

When talking about stress, I could go into the physiological reactions in the body and the excretions of cortisol and different hormones and how they stress the baby, and blah blah blah...When it comes down to it, when we are stressed, it doesn't feel good emotionally or physically. It doesn't make our life feel good or make us feel happy. So, why not try to live with less of it? I tell you all to eat intuitively, so I will tell you also to live more intuitively and focus on living your life so that it feels nourishing. If throwing the Christmas party, getting out all your holiday cards, and shopping for each of your siblings is stressful instead of pleasurable, then maybe you should rethink about why you are doing those things. Is it because you think you should?

I think it is important to do a lot of self-reflection to figure out what your own stresses in your life are, and analyze them. Is it work? Is it family? Is it keeping your house clean? Is someone sick in your life? Is it just finding the time to get everything done? Do you have other children to care for? Is it meeting everyone else's expectations?

Start making a list. Seriously, take out a piece of paper and write the stresses down. Now, begin thinking creatively about how you can unload some of those stresses. Can your husband/partner take care of anything on the list? Can you ask someone else for help? Are some of them just simply unimportant? Are some of the things out of your control? Can some of the things wait?

I ask you these questions because sometimes life becomes overwhelming with the things we have to do...but many times we are stressing about things that we can't control or that we could simply take off the list of priorities.

So why is this so important for pregnant women or mommies in general? Because more often than not, most mommies I meet are just spent. They are overextended, exhausted, and they are undernourished because they don't take the time to focus on what they need because they are worrying about everyone else's needs. They have the whole world on their shoulders, and honestly, it doesn't need to be that way. Besides, can you really and fully be present for your babies/children in that overextended and exhausted state of mind? I know I can't, and when I try, "unpleasant Nicole" takes over again and then no one is very happy.

So how are you supposed to spend time nourishing yourself? Well, that is also individual. The amount of time you need and what you choose to do are up to you. Here are some of the things that I have found that help me recharge so that I can be there for the other people in my life that I love:
  • Reading for fun (a non-children or pregnancy/work-related book)
  • Taking a prenatal yoga class (every week!)
  • Walking in a park or on a bike path
  • Watching a sappy love story
  • Taking a nap
  • Taking a bath
  • Drawing or writing in my journal
  • Baking or cooking (I like it, but if it feels like a chore for you, it shouldn't be on your list!)
  • Spending time with my husband, like a date or an evening connecting that doesn't involve the TV
  • Going to a little cafe
  • Curling up with a blanket and having a cup of tea or soup
  • Stretching
  • Meditating
  • Making or giving a gift to someone
  • Shopping for something I need that I have been putting off (like maternity shirts)
So, what can be on your list of nourishing things? What can you do today that will recharge you a bit, help you to relax, and help you refocus your priorities? Now do it! If you become well practiced at it, you will be able to continue when the baby is born and be a much better mommy for it!

ONE more thing...practice saying "no" and start setting some boundaries on how you spend your time. Say "no" to organizing the work holiday party or doing that extra project. Say "no" to hosting people at your house for New Years or taking your sister out to pick our curtains. Say "no" to whatever it is that is keeping you from having a little bit of time to recharge yourself. Your body, baby, and family will be glad you did. And, don't feel guilty. Guilt trips are free, but you don't have to take the ride. No one is going to take care of you, unless you do it.

Enjoy the holidays and nourish yourself!

In health and wellness,

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