Resources for Stress Management

Patient Information, Tools, and Resources

  • How Can I Manage Stress?
    American Heart Association pamphlet

    Printable pamphlet with easy-to-understand information on: What is stress? How does stress make you feel? How can I cope with it? How can I have a more relaxed life? How can I learn more?

  • How Can I Make My Lifestyle Healthier?
    American Heart Association pamphlet

    Printable pamphlet with easy-to-understand information on: smoking cessation, managing blood pressure, changing eating habits, physical activity, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, managing cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, how to learn more.

  • Stress Tip Sheet
    American Psychological Association

    Printable pamphlet with easy-to-understand information on: simple ways to manage one’s stress.

  • Stress and your health fact sheet
    WomensHealth.gov

    Women-specific website that contains information on: What is stress? What are the common causes of stress? What are some common signs of stress? Do women react to stress differently than men? Can stress affect my health? Does stress cause ulcers? What is PTSD? How can I help handle my stress? Contains more information on stress and health.

  • Fact Sheet on Stress
    National Institute of Mental Health

    Downloadable and printable fact sheet with frequently asked questions

  • Emotional and Life Changes
    March of Dimes

    Pregnancy-specific information about stress and stress management.

  • Mood Swings During Pregnancy
    American Pregnancy Association

    Information on mood swings during pregnancy.

It is crucial to bring up any issues concerning your emotional and physical health with your doctor, especially in regard to poor sleep habits, loss of interests or hobbies, feelings of guilt, low or very high energy, poor concentration, changes in appetite or eating habits, feeling stressed or pressured, and changes in sex drive.

The following tools help you identify your stress, bring it up to your doctor, and begin managing it properly for the health of you and your baby.

Recommendations from the American Heart Association

  • Talk with family and friends.
    A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
  • Engage in daily physical activity.
    Regular physical activity relieves mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
  • Accept the things you cannot change.
    Don't say, "I'm too old." You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.
  • Remember to laugh.
    Laughter makes you feel good. Don't be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you're alone.
  • Give up the bad habits.
    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now.
  • Slow down.
    Try to "pace" instead of "race." Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.
  • Get enough sleep.
    Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can't sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
  • Get organized.
    Use "to do" lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
  • Practice giving back.
    Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you.
  • Try not to worry.
    The world won't end if your grass isn't mowed or your kitchen isn't cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time.
Stress Reduction Action Plan

Goal setting can aid in managing stress by focusing on small changes, and this simple assessment can be used by pregnant patients.

Obtained from the American Heart Association

Stress Reduction Action Plan

Simple Techniques for Stress Management (American Heart Association)

  1. Positive Self-Talk

    Talking positively to oneself can aid in controlling stress by allowing one to better deal with stressful situations. With practice, negative thoughts can be turned into positive ones.

    Positive Self-Talk
  2. Emergency Stress Stoppers

    These stoppers aid in dealing with stress on the spot, and can be applied to various situations.

    Examples:

    • Count to 10 before you speak.
    • Take three to five deep breaths.
    • Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you'll handle it later.
    • Go for a walk.
    • Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake.
    • Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late.
    • Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once.
    • Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
    • Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.
  3. Finding Pleasure

    Finding a hobby that one enjoys is a natural management technique. It is recommended to do at least one thing every day, even if it is for only 15 minutes.

    Examples include:

    • Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint).
    • Take up a hobby, new or old.
    • Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper.
    • Have coffee or a meal with friends.
    • Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl.
    • Sew, knit or crochet.
    • Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.
    • Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
    • Make a list of everything you still want to do in life.
    • Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.
    • Take a class at your local college.
    • Play cards or board games with family and friends.
  4. Daily Relaxation

    Daily practice of relaxation techniques can calm tension in one’s mind and body, particularly deep breathing exercises. With daily practice, these techniques can be utilized during any stressful situation. Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.

    • Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes.
    • Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you're lying on the beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind.
    • Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
    • Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.

References:

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 343:psychosocial risk factors: perinatal screening and intervention. 2006 Aug; 108(2):469-77. Accessed on 2012 Oct 23. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16880322/
  • American Heart Association. Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/FourWaystoDealWithStress/Four-Ways-to-Deal-with-Stress_UCM_307996_Article.jsp
  • American Psychological Association. Glossary of Psychological Terms. Accessed 1 Feb 2013. Available at: http://www.apa.org/research/action/glossary.aspx
  • Dole N, Savitz DA, Hertz-Picciotto I, Siega-Riz AM, McMahon MJ, Buekens P. Maternal stress and preterm birth. Amer Jour of Epi. 2003;157(1):14-24. Accessed 13 Nov 2012.
  • CD, Gorusch TC, Lushene RE. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1970
  • Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. A global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983; 24:385-396.)
  • Cochrane R, Robertson A. The life events inventory: a measure of the relative severity of psychosocial stressors. J Psycho-som Res. 1973; 17:135-139
  • Dole N, Savitz DA, Hertz-Picciotto I, Siega-Riz AM, McMahon MJ, Buekens P. Maternal stress and preterm birth. Amer Jour of Epi. 2003;157(1):14-24. Accessed 13 Nov 2012.
  • Field T, Diego M, Hernandez-Reif M, Deeds O, Figueiredo B. Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight, and postpartum depression. Infant Behavior and Devleopment. 2009; 32(4):454-460.
  • Janke J. The effect of relaxation therapy on preterm labor outcomes. J Obstet Gynecol Neon Nurs. 1999;28(3):255-263.
  • Narendran S, Nagarathna R, Narendran V, Gunasheela S, Nagendra HRR. Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome. J or Alt and Compl Med. 2005;11(2):237-244.
  • Teixeira J, Martin D, Prendiville O, et al. The effects of acute relaxation on indices of anxiety during pregnancy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynecol. 2005;26:271-276.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008.
  • Wilkinson DS, Korenbrot CC, Greene J. A performance indicator of psychosocial services in enhanced prenatal care of Medicaid-eligible women. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 1998;2:131-143.