Here are some simple ways to unwind when baby's crying becomes too much.
1. Work Out the Stress
Kate Motz, of Sunnyvale, California, a mother of three, would plan to exercise in the evening. "As soon as my husband walked in the door, I'd hand him the baby and head to spin class to clear my head," says Motz. Or find a gym with child care, so that you're not dependent on your partner. Exercising releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that can improve your mood. It also takes your mind off your munchkin for a while so you can focus on your own body, which can give you back a sense of control, explains Dr. Rivers. And the peaceful alone time that comes with the workout is very helpful.
2. Get Out of the House
When Jeannie Kim, of New York City, was on maternity leave with her daughter, her husband had a job that required him to be gone from 5 a.m. to as late as midnight. "I took four walks in one day just to stay sane," she says. "And the long strolls almost always calmed the baby down too." "Many new moms worry that people will be annoyed hearing a crying baby in public," notes Clancy. "But it's better for you to get out and be around other people than to stay isolated at home." Even if the baby continues to cry, it may cause you less stress outdoors than when you're cooped up in the house.
3. Try Some Tunes
Samantha Jacobs treated herself to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. "Everyone talks about using music to soothe the baby, but sometimes I need music to soothe myself," says the Fort Lauderdale mom. "If the crying gets really bad and I'm on my own, I'll place my daughter in her crib and then go and shut myself in my room. I'll play just one song that I know will relax me and give me the patience I need," she explains. "Then I will go back and try to calm her down." "Shutting out the crying for a few minutes can stop your head from spinning and your heart from racing," notes Dr. Rivers.
4. Make a Laugh Track
If your baby cries around the same time every day, have something to look forward to while you tend to him. Boston mom Katie Bugbee would DVR The Ellen DeGeneres Show and watch it every morning while trying to calm her son during his fussy time. "Laughter is helpful for anyone who's reeling from uncomfortable emotions," notes Clancy. Hear that, new moms? Get comic relief as much as you can. "It gets you out of your head and away from feelings that are making you depressed or anxious," she says.
5. Take a Deep Breath
Jana Davis, of Norfolk, Virginia, a therapist and a new mom, found that it wasn't just the baby crying that was unnerving. "It's the lack of sleep, the rapid hormone changes, and the new role as a mother as well," she says. In addition to asking for help from her mom and best friend, Davis used a breathing technique: She'd sit with her eyes closed and both hands over her tummy, and then breathe slowly and deeply so that she could feel her hands rise and fall on her abdomen. Breathing that deeply and slowly promotes relaxation, and it helped Davis realize that she could control her feelings instead of letting them get the best of her.