Managing Anxiety and Pain in Motherhood
We’re excited to announce that we’re releasing an online course: Mind-Body Coping skills in a few weeks. This blog gives you more information on how anxiety affects the body and how the mind-body skills in the course can help.
How Anxiety affects the body:
Anxiety doesn't just affect our minds, we feel it in our bodies. Have you ever noticed how your heart races when you have worrying thoughts? What happens in our head is always reflected in our bodies. It may show up as tight muscles, painful muscles, upset stomach, or something else entirely. Often, when we're stuck in an anxiety spiral, we try to talk our way out of it. Either with seeing our mental health therapist or talking to a friend or talking ourselves off a ledge. (This is called a top down approach). And these strategies are GREAT coping skills, but often these don't work 24/7 and for some, they don't work at all. Our bodies hold emotions and memories sometimes long after we think our brains have worked through something. When we only address the thoughts, our bodies are still stuck in the past.
At Resilient Motherhood, we take a bottom up approach. This approach is backed by trauma research from Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk. It can easily be applied to general anxiety even if it's not rooted in trauma. We’ve taken the techniques we have developed and learned in pain and anxiety management and applied them for you to use in the moment. These are perfect for when you can't call a friend or wait for your therapist to message you back.
Pain and Anxiety
Research shows that a few things happen in our bodies when our parasympathetic nervous systems are ramped up:
- breathing patterns change
- the muscles along the spine stiffen
- digestion is slowed
In my experience with clients, this decreases the activation of the deep core- the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and transverse abdominis, which can cause and contribute to pain, especially during pregnancy and in motherhood when the core is often compromised.
Why and how the mind-body skills work
I break down mind-body skills into 2 categories: brain hacks and body hacks.
The body hacks work in 3 different ways. Some are somatic exercises. They work by improving body awareness, they ground us in the here and now, and when they calm anxiety or pain, they help you feel more confident. They are a great way to slow down and help us tap into our parasympathetic nervous system (rest + digest). Some of these hacks work by tapping into our energy force and the earth's energy force. This connection is vital to our health, but often overlooked. They also work as a sort of distraction from your thoughts and a way to stop your thoughts from spiraling by getting you into your body. The brain hacks work by activating certain parts of our brain that also activate our parasympathetic nervous system.
If you have Diastasis Recti or pelvic floor problems AND have anxiety, you’ll want to check out our Mind-Body coping skills course. If you want to learn more and be the first to know when it is released, enter your email here. It has 3 videos and 4 hacks to calm your nervous system and help you heal. They’re perfect if you’re already working with a mental health therapist or pelvic floor physical therapist and want to make sure you’re treating your body AND your brain.