But I just don't have the energy
It might seem unrealistic and overwhelming to try this now. We know that being pregnant takes a lot of energy, and yet here we are suggesting that you challenge yourself even further.
But think about how much energy and joy your anxiety is already taking from you. It’s worth the short-term effort now for long-term gain. There are simple things you can do, starting today, to help yourself feel less anxious and more able to meet the everyday and extraordinary challenges of becoming a mother.
Here are some common thoughts, beliefs, and concerns people have that can stop them from taking steps to overcome fears. You may find it helpful to take a look at this list and see if any trouble thoughts sound familiar, and whether the solution thought makes more sense.
Troubleshooting thoughts that interfere with facing your fears
|Trouble thought||Solution thought|
I can’t do anything – there are too many practical difficulties.
|It’s easy to start doubting myself. Being pregnant (or having a new baby) is a lot of work and is new to me. Although it might not be easy to tackle my fears, the payoff – having less anxiety over time and feeling more confident – is so worth it! There are always practical difficulties involved in doing anything – it’s something we all struggle with. To help, I can ask myself, “What would I do about these difficulties if I were feeling more confident that I could handle them?”|
|There’s too much to do – I’m so overwhelmed I can’t get started.||This may not be true. If I write down what I need to do, it won’t seem so overwhelming. Then I will see if there are things I can let go of. For the rest, I can take things one at a time.|
|I’m not sure I’m doing these anxiety-management strategies just right.||The idea is to have a go, not to be perfect at these strategies. It’s better to try, and find out how I do, than not do anything at all.|
|I don’t want to do these things I’m anxious about!||That’s true, right now. But whether I want to or not, what is in my best interests? Which will make me feel better and more in control of things? Doing it? Or not doing it?|
|I’m not up to working on my anxiety just now. I’ll wait until I’m feeling better.||I won’t know if I’m up to it until I try. If I wait until I’m feeling better, I may never do it. When I am feeling better I’ll be even LESS motivated to work on these changes I know I need to make. Doing it will make me feel more confident.|
|There’s no point in trying. I’ll only make a mess of it and feel worse.||I don’t know that until I try. Nobody’s asking for a gold medal performance. Even if I do make a mess of it, it’s not the end of the world – I can learn from my mistakes if I don’t take them too seriously.|
|I won’t enjoy doing these strategies.||How do I know? I’m not a fortune-teller. I might enjoy these things I’ve been avoiding more than I think, once I get involved in what I’m doing. That has happened before. I do get a rush when I conquer a fear. Maybe I’ll even feel pretty proud.|
Based on patient handouts in Fennell, M. (1989). Depression. In K. Hawton, P. M. Salkovskis, J. Kirk, & D. M. Clark (Eds), Cognitive behaviour