I had a miscarriage 3 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. About 2 weeks after my miscarriage, I started having feelings of dread. It’s not uncommon for women to feel anxiety after their miscarriages. Their bodies and hormones have flipped upside-down twice within just a few months—they not only have to deal with the physical aspects of miscarrying, but also the emotional ones. So having gone through it, I know how to handle anxiety after after a miscarriage.
I’d been there before, and I never want to go back. In college and for a few years after, I had social anxiety and regular panic attacks. My panic attacks usually consisted of crying and hyperventilating, combined with numbness in my limbs, and an absolute feeling that I could not climb out of the hole I was in.
My own emotions over my miscarriage include: Guilt (lots and lots of guilt), blame, grief, worry, fear, frustration, anger, powerlessness, apathy, numbness, and many, many more.
One of my go-to solutions for basically anything is talking about it. I spoke with my supervisor and coworkers (link) and several of them recommended counseling. So I decided to make an appointment with our free counseling service that our school system has for its employees (yeah, free is pretty cool). I told Phil about it and he decided to go with me.
We sat and talked with the counselor, explaining why we came to see him and all the things we had gone through recently. He asked us questions like, “What do you do for yourselves, or as hobbies?” He asked Phil if he was supportive to me since I’ve been going through all of these emotions. (Phil’s answer was, “Yeah, I mean, I’ve tried to be.” Then he turned and asked me if I felt he had been supportive. (He’s so sweet!)
It was a very low-key setting and the counselor was a very relaxed person, which made me feel more comfortable. We spent most of the time talking about my anxiety, my reactions and emotions, but Phil talked a little about his recent stresses too.
He gave us a few recommendations and then said, “You guys are doing really well. You’re doing everything exactly right to handle what you’re going through, so even if you still feel stressed or sad or anxious, keep doing what you’re doing and keep leaning on each other. There’s not much I can do for you.”
Wow! You mean we’re doing it right? That’s a fantastic revelation to have!
This list below is what I did. Here’s how to handle anxiety after a miscarriage:
1.) Eat Right
I strongly believe that eating right can help a majority of the problems that we suffer from, both physically and mentally.
- Leafy greens for vitamins and fiber.
- Blueberries and chocolate have a lot of antioxidants (but make sure you buy organic!).
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and Apple Cider Vinegar have good bacteria your digestive system needs.
- Apples have lots of vitamin C.
- Eat bananas for potassium.
- Your body needs protein, so eat meat, fish, eggs (but avoid tofu that is soy-based).
- Fish or fish oil has omega-3s that will keep inflammation down.
- Chemicals/Processed Food
- Too much salt
- Bad fats like hydrogenated oils and trans fats
- Dairy (I just limit dairy… I only eat a little cheese or cream)
Caffeine and Alcohol can severely exacerbate anxiety. Even if the caffeine in coffee doesn’t make you jittery, it may be having other side-effects in your brain chemistry that are more subtle. Try laying off the coffee or tea to see how you feel. (You will need to have it out of your system for more than 3 weeks, preferably longer.)
After my miscarriage, I took a multi-vitamin every day, as well as some extras like magnesium, probiotics, and omega-3s.
If you don’t think you can do ALL of those things above at the same time—don’t fear! Even small changes can make the biggest difference! Work on cutting out one bad thing at a time, and replace that bad thing with a good habit. You’ll be on your way in no time!
I think of anxiety as built-up energy that my body does not know what to do with. If I am stationary most of the day, that energy will continue to build up, clogging my energy systems (chi) and creating more stress.
Just like eating right, you don’t have to go crazy to make a huge difference. If you aren’t used to exercising, try to walk 20 minutes 3 times a week. For me, that’s once around the elementary school near our place.
Luckily, when I got pregnant again 3 months later, my hormones made me super motivated to move and stay in shape. So even after the miscarriage, those leftover hormones jump-started my exercise routine.
The best thing to relieving your system of extra energy is to work it off! Even better: the more you exercise, the more “clean” energy your body will generate! It will be easier to get up in the morning, fall asleep at night, and stay focused during the day.
Speaking of sleep…
3.) Get plenty of sleep
Unfortunately, sleep is important for helping to get rid of anxiety, but anxiety can also cause poor sleeping, inability to fall asleep, waking up at night, or waking up not feeling rested.
If the anxiety is keeping you up at night, try a few of my favorite products:
Bed buddy & essential oils
I heat the bed buddy up in the microwave, put on a couple drops of oil and sling the bed buddy around my shoulders and neck. The heat helps to diffuse the scent and you’re left feeling relaxed and warm!
Tennis Balls to relieve pain in the back
Watch this video for how to use the tennis balls for hip and back pain, especially if you were having cramps or pain with your miscarriage, this can help tremendously!
This is my favorite bedtime tea. Any of the “sleepytime” or “chamomile” varieties work well too!
Sleep could be, hands down, the most important thing to resetting your brain and clearing your “cache” of all the bad files like stress and overwhelming feelings. Eating right, exercising, and sleeping enough all go hand in hand and enhance the other, so if you work on all three simultaneously (even if just a little) you will notice a huge change.
4.) Focus your attention on things that you enjoy.
If you’re like me, I sometimes get so involved with a goal or my career that I forget to do things that I like to do (just for the sake of doing them, without any end in mind). Things like traveling or going someplace new, learning, stand up paddle boarding, rock climbing, hiking, and drawing/painting are all activities that I enjoy doing and I have used to manage stress either now or in the past.
Some other things you might enjoy doing are golf, swimming, yoga, playing music, participating in a team sport, camping, hunting, going to a local night life scene or going dancing… you get the picture.
Watching your favorite show on Netflix is okay and all, but notice that all of the things I listed above were things that you will actively participate in. Watching TV is passive.
It’s important to choose active leisure activities that are… well, active! Being in a dissociative state from passive hobbies will not help regulate your hormones or help bring out of your anxiety in the same way active things will.
Be mindful and be present! Try to get into the state of flow!
5.) Lean on the people in your life.
I’ve read so many articles, blogs, and books that discuss the importance of having good relationships in your life. Try these articles on:
Even just talking and venting to your mom, a friend, or your significant other can help let go of all that “built-up energy” I was talking about earlier. Even better, if you can find a community of people who have gone through the same thing you have, you’ll understand that you are not alone!
6.) Set goals (but don’t overdo it!)
My initial reaction to needing to recover from a traumatic experience or anxiety is to stay busy.
Admittedly, I have a tendency to go overboard.
After my miscarriage, I set ridiculous goals for myself for the next few weeks (there was simply not enough time in the day to complete all the things I wanted to!) But it was a good thought!
Keeping your eyes on the future and working toward goals can give you focus, motivation, and positive rewards, which are very important especially after a trauma. Even if the goals are small, feeling that sense of accomplishment is great for the soul—both human part and spirit part.
These are the things I did to handle my anxiety after miscarriage and to make sure I was physically and emotionally healing after my miscarriage.
It’s a hard path, and it will take some time. So go easy on yourself. After a miscarriage, you might want to jump into trying to conceive again right away. If that’s the case, these things listed can help with preparing your body for baby too.
Are you 1 in 4? What did you do after your miscarriage?