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The Benefits of Winding Down

I was ready to treat this pregnancy like training for a marathon and running two businesses simultaneously. Structured, organized, energetic, results-oriented. Early on, when people would look at me with eyebrows raised and say, “You’ll need to slow down,” I would get annoyed, more intensely motivated. How dare they presume to know anything about my drive and energy level? And for the most part, my first trimester was business as usual. No nausea, no energy dips, no need to sleep more. As my husband would try every bargaining tactic to get me to take a nap, I was scheduling more meetings and still going full speed ahead.

Then everything came to a grinding halt. Towards the end of my second trimester, I got the stomach flu. Not a little bug, but the full-on, toilet hugging flu. For someone who rarely gets sick, this on top of pregnancy was epically overwhelming. Even after it ran its course, it took me weeks to get back to a normal appetite and energy level. I wasn’t used to feeling run down, drained, and foggy.

This unintentional winding down was extreme, and it made its point. Not only did I have to physically slow down, but it also made me prioritize and take a look at the bigger picture. Unknowns happen, and unknowns will happen more frequently with a new baby coming onto the scene. Maybe structuring each day down to the minute and running on all cylinders isn’t the optimal approach. I started to reassess what was rejuvenating me versus depleting my energy.

Here are a few things I’m learning and incorporating into daily life, prior to the arrival of my son. Each has an element of “winding down” in a positive, constructive way.

Routines Can be More than Just Routine

I’ve been setting up little routines throughout the day. A quick set of three yoga poses in the evening to wind down; 5-10 minutes of meditation or birth affirmations; being more present at a meal knowing that it nourishes me and a future human! Your routine should be for you. Something that creates space, de-stresses, and relaxes. If you feel it’s tough to schedule, put it in your calendar with a reminder or attach it to an already established habit (stretch in the shower or meditate right after brushing your teeth).

Learn to Say ‘No’

There have been a few times when I pushed the limits of what I knew would be feasible for me to handle in a day (overbooked meetings, events, family obligations, etc.). And I really paid the price – immediate exhaustion, migraines, and a day to recover. I’ve come to realize there is a now a finite cap on my level of energy, and once it’s spent, there is no more. The days of me digging into the reserves are gone for now, so I had to start saying ‘no;’ to family and friends, to colleagues and clients, and most importantly, to myself. Having a chat with inner Kira would get frustrating (“But you could do it before!”), but putting my health and the baby’s health first was my main priority. And you only have 9 months to waive that pregnancy card – use it!

Modification Isn’t Defeat

I knew I would have to make fitness modifications as my body changed, but deep down, I figured I would be the one running right up until D-Day. So even though I’m still training, I’m substituting mindful fitness tweaks, like adding walks instead of sprints, and taking stretching breaks instead of adding that third HIIT round. I came to realize this also meant modifying other aspects of my life, like not getting frustrated that rolling out of bed is so hard for a 3:00AM bathroom visit (why is it so hard!). In the past, any injury or modification would have felt like defeat to me. Instead, this slowing down feels like a rare opportunity to ease into a new phase of life.

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