The Five ways to wellbeing is a guide that has been developed by the New Economics Foundation to help everyone with their happiness. These are some ideas for using the guidance in pregnancy and after the birth.
Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a human need. Having close friendly relationships and people to talk to protects you from mental ill-health.
Pregnancy and parenting, especially for the first time, are so new and throw up so many challenges you won't have had to face before. Knowing and connecting to others in the same situation really helps. But the great thing is that for many it is a time when it is easier to make lots of new connections in your local community.
- When you do your antenatal classes, find one that is as close as possible to where you live, set up a WhatsApp group with the other people there so you can arrange meet-ups.
- Look for a local online forum that might have pregnancy/baby groups that you can join.
- When your baby is born, get out (when you are able) to the library or Children's Centre baby groups.
- Speak to other mums in the park. If you both have a child you have something in common.
Being active can help with anxiety and depression as well as improving your sense of wellbeing
It doesn't need to be a class or a paid activity. Slower-paced activities are also helpful. Don't believe anyone who tells you to 'put your feet up' or stop exercising because you're pregnant. Being active is good for your baby as well as you.
Here are a few ideas:
- Take the stairs not the lift
- Go for a walk at lunchtime
- Walk into work - perhaps with a colleague – so you can ‘connect’ as well
- Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
- Walk to someone’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
Try and be in the present instead of thinking (and worrying) about the future.
On your way to the work or the shops try and keep your mind on what is happening around you, instead of thinking about what to have for dinner or how much you have to do.
The things around you also make a difference. A tidy space can make your mind feel more relaxed
- Get a plant. Plants look nice and looking after them can give you a sense of wellbeing. Spider plants are easy to look after.
- Have a clear up if there's lots of clutter around.
- If you find yourself worrying all the time about things, dedicate a specific time in the day or week to this, and try not to do it at other times.
- If you are very busy, don't forget to pause what you're doing every couple of hours, have a cup of tea and take notice of who and what is around you.
- Have lunch away from your desk if you work.
Learning new things and setting goals can help you feel good. Pregnancy and parenting is a time of learning for all women. Whether you're having twins, pregnant after loss or looking forward to your third baby, there are lots and lots of ways to find out all about any type of pregnancy or parenting.
These are all the ways you can find out more about the journey
- Look for blogs, podcasts or instagram accounts of those going through the same thing as you.
- Read a book.
- Research something you’ve always wondered about pregnancy.
Doing an act of kindness can make you happy. These are some ways you can help others:
- Bake something for others.
- Be aware of what's going on around you. Does anyone need help? With a buggy? Crossing the road? Carrying bags?
- Be the friend who sets up a group spreadsheet of meals for another person (this will come around to you when you have your baby!)
- If you have experience or information take the time to answer if you see an online post looking for it.
- Think of your friends. If they're going through a hard time, be supportive. A message means a lot even if you can't be there in person.
Some of you may have watched the new documentary from Channel 4 air on Tuesday night as part of it’s ‘Losing it: Our Mental Health Emergency’ series. The documentary followed a family in Nottingham who experienced postpartum psychosis, a rare but a very serious illness that is often unpredictable.
PTSD is being talked about a lot in the media today. It’s important to recognise that PTSD can affect anyone. If you’ve been through a traumatic birth or if you have experienced baby loss in a previous pregnancy through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, you may be more likely to experience PTSD.
Some mums expect to feel excited and happy throughout their pregnancy. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, but there are things you can do to take care of your mental health.
We all dream of floating calmly through pregnancy, but many women feel more vulnerable or anxious. Try our practical tips to help you relax in pregnancy.