In a perfect world, a woman’s pregnancy would be the happiest time of her life. Birds sing, flowers bloom, and everything seems full of possibility. Except, sometimes it isn’t. Growing a person is often stressful and uncomfortable, and all the unknowns can be enough to send even the most pragmatic mothers-to-be into a tailspin. Finding happiness and appreciating the process can feel like one more to-do on an ever growing list. But it’s not hard to do if you know where to look.
You can't control everything, but you can control (a lot of) your mental wellbeing during pregnancy
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a behavioral psychologist, has spent her career studying how genetics, intentional activity, and circumstance affects the happiness variance within a population. Life circumstances, like money, have very little long-term impact on our happiness. Lyubomirsky found that if two, magically identical people suddenly faced different circumstances – one won the lottery, for example – then, over time, the lottery winner may only experience up to 10% percent more happiness than the other.
On the other hand, our lifestyle is almost as important as our genetics when it comes to happiness.
Influences of happiness
• 40% Intentional Activity
• 50% Genetics
12 proven intentional activities to improve happiness
Express Gratitude | Cultivate Optimism | Avoid Social Comparison | Practice Kindness | Nurture Relationships | Create Coping Strategies | Forgive | Practice Flow Experiences | Savor Life's Joys | Commit to Goals | Seek Spirituality | Physical Wellness
65 intentional self-care practices for a happier pregnancy
Develop your coping strategies
Three main Stressors of New Parenthood
Develop and maintain a balanced partnership
Simplify your life and your expectations
Continue to prioritize what gives you an identity
You’re likely trying to absorb a mountain of information as you prepare for the new arrival. Instead of spinning your wheels in the world of possibilities, try to devote your efforts to the most probable stressors, and then plan accordingly.
Express gratitude, cultivate optimism, and savor life
30% of Our thoughts are wandering elsewhere.
People are substantially less happywhen their minds are wandering – regardless of activity.
Matt Killingsworth’s Happiness Study has shown that a wandering mind can ruin even the most enjoyable activities. Instead of spending now thinking about later or before, focus on what you’re doing this very moment. Habits of mindfulness are linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
12 intentional self-care activities for gratitude:
Practice acts of kindness
Regular volunteering has been linked to a 22% reduction in early mortality rates, along with multiple other health benefits.
Helping others will make you happy, too – even up to a month later. “The How of Happiness” study found that subjects who kept a kindness journal were happier than the control group up to six months later. This same research showed that a variety of small good deeds go a long way. In fact, multiple acts of the same kindness can quickly become a chore.
12 intentional self-care activities for kindness:
The Gottman Institute found couples who focused on their relationship and worked together as new parents saw:
•Relationship Satisfaction•Increased father involvement and satisfaction•positive impacts on baby development
Prioritize your partnership during this exciting time. After all, it’s what got you here. Be transparent about your stress, hopes, and fears. Make sure to check in on your partner frequently, too. Partners are also at risk for postpartum depression, and this risk increases when the mother experiences PPD.Tell loved ones that you value their presence after the birth. The initial flood of visitors will eventually slow to a trickle – often when exhaustion, stress, and depression begin to set in. A study from Arizona State University found that even when women are satisfied with their partners, their friendships still had a more powerful effect on their well-being and stress levels. Having good friends may even help to “sustain the marital relationship by reducing the burden on the marriage to fulfill all of one’s emotional needs.”
12 intentional self-care activities for relationships:
Lose yourself in what you love
Multiple studies have found engaging in hobbies results in:
Better overall mood|less stress|lower heart rate
Engage in “Flow Activities.” The man who coined this term, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes Flow as those challenging, yet enjoyable activities that focus our attention, push our limits, and force us to become immersed in the present. The happiest people fill their day with a variety of intentional activities that provide them with gratification and small, frequent doses of passive pleasure as a reward.Start making your passion a habit now so it will be easier to pursue your hobbies once the baby arrives.
Five intentional self-care activities for finding "flow":
The Frequency of wellness activities improves happiness more than quality or duration.
When thinking about physical care for mental wellbeing, it’s important to remember that the frequency of wellness activities improves happiness more than quality or duration. A study found that a massage was perceived to be more enjoyable when there was a break in the treatment. Prioritize two 30-minute rubdowns over one longer one.