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Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is common when we experience changes or transitions in our lives. It is often linked to stress, which is one of the many triggers of anxiety. Anxiety can affect us both emotionally and physically. Anxiety symptoms include muscle tension, irritability, feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear, racing thoughts (i.e. your mind going a million miles a minute), and sweating. Anxiety is a normal feeling and response. Although many people believe anxiety is a sign of weakness, those feelings are common for anyone facing an essential transition or crisis.

Anxiety can be managed in several different ways. Practicing deep breathing exercises is one, simple way of managing anxiety symptoms. In times of crisis, our anxiety is triggered and our minds and bodies tend to be on “overload.” Calm breathing is vital because it assists in slowing down your breathing, allowing your body to reach a calm state. It is important to take some time to just sit and breathe. With those living busy lives, it can seem impossible to find the time to relax and breathe. But with the quick exercise described below, you can practice almost anywhere and everywhere!

Before practicing this technique, I recommend you get your mind and body ready. For example, finding a quiet place can be helpful. Sometimes, closing your eyes is helpful as well. The following technique is called “calm breathing” and is taken from Anxiety Breathing Canada.

Some simple steps you can practice when you experience anxiety symptoms:

  1. Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
  2. Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds
  3. Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
  4. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath

Taking 5 minutes to practice this daily can be useful. Once you feel comfortable with this technique, you can increase the time to up to 10 minutes. You can also incorporate mind visuals. For example, while practicing this technique, you can close your eyes and picture something that calms you (e.g. the ocean or a meadow).

While this technique can be helpful, it is advisable to seek professional help should you feel your anxiety symptoms worsen over time or severely affect daily activities such as school and work. Should you feel you are faced with the more pronounced effects of anxiety, I find that having a safe environment to talk about your anxiety and what triggers it is important (e.g. individual psychotherapy). Therapy can provide an environment where you can explore symptoms and how it affects your mind, body, and daily interactions. In therapy, you can discuss further ways to manage your symptoms of anxiety.

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Pregnancy Options

Pregnancy Options

If you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, in an unintended pregnancy, you may have a floodgate of emotions and questions.pregnancy options What do you want to do? Do you want to parent, create an adoption plan, or have an abortion? Each decision carries its own set of unique results and will determine your next steps. Talking to a patient advocate may help you to sort out your thoughts and emotions and to think through each option.


Your three pregnancy options include:

Parenting. A decision to carry a pregnancy to term and raise the child. Many women would like to parent but they may have concerns about how to make that happen. You and your partner may choose to parent together, co-parent or you may parent alone. You will have many decisions to make but you do not have to make them all at once or alone. A patient advocate can assist in developing a plan, provide access to community resources and answer your questions.

Adoption. A decision to carry the pregnancy to term and to make an adoption plan involves relinquishing parental rights after the delivery. You may choose the level of involvement you may prefer. These options include: open (usually an on-going relationship), semi-open (usually letters and photos exchanged) and closed (no communication). A patient advocate can explain the different options, answer your questions and help you to develop an adoption plan.

Abortion. A decision to terminate or abort a pregnancy involves the use of either medication or a surgical procedure. Which abortion method depends on how far along the pregnancy has progressed. One of our nurses can answer your questions and provide accurate health information and education about the abortion procedure(s) available to you, including any possible health risks.

According to a recent Public Opinion Strategies survey, the most pressing need of women deciding about an unplanned pregnancy is sorting out their thoughts and feelings. A patient advocate can provide information on your options that will help you in your decision-making process. Whatever you decide should be in line with your beliefs and values. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

Support Circle exists to serve the woman who is unsure of her pregnancy decision by providing time, space, support so that you make the right decision for you. No matter what choice you make about your unintended pregnancy, our options, services and support are free.


Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy Symptoms

Woman with her monthly menstrual pains clutching her stomach with her hands as she becomes stressed by the ongoing cramps, torso view of her hands and tummy isolated on white

Period late? Think you may be pregnant?

Is your period late? Do you think you may be pregnant? Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. Understanding the signs and symptoms of pregnancy is important because each symptom may be related to something other than pregnancy. If you think you may be pregnant, treat yourself as if you are until you know otherwise.

Some women experience pregnancy signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all. Below is a listing of some of the most common pregnancy signs symptoms. If you have been sexually active and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is recommended to take a pregnancy test.

Early Symptoms of Pregnancy:

  • Spotting and Cramping – A few days after conception, the fertilized egg travels and attaches itself to the wall of your uterus, causing implantation bleeding, one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. This may occur around six to 12 days after fertilization.
  • Swollen/Tender Breasts – Women’s hormone levels change rapidly after conception, triggering tender, sore, or swollen breasts.
  • Nausea or Morning Sickness – Is one of the most common and popular pregnancy symptoms, but not all women experience it.  Nausea can occur at any time of day and not just in the morning.  The cause of morning sickness or nausea is likely to be hormonal changes.
  • Missed/Delayed Period – Is the most obvious symptom of pregnancy, and the one that prompts most women to visit our free clinic for a pregnancy test. However, a missed period could be caused by other things besides pregnancy.  It may be a symptom of hormonal problems caused by fatigue or stress.  It may also be a side effect of taking oral contraceptives.

Hormonal changes are likely to be the cause of other early pregnancy symptoms including:

  • Difference in menstruation
  • Fatigue/Tiredness
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Food cravings and aversions
  • Back pain
  • Mood swings

However, these signs and symptoms are not exclusive to pregnancy.  These signs and symptoms could indicate that you are about to get sick.  They could also indicate that your period is coming soon.  In some women, pregnancy can occur without any of the later signs and symptoms of pregnancy.  In addition, there might be other pregnancy symptoms that could happen to you that are not commonly experienced.

If you have missed a period or suspect that you may be pregnant, you might want to get a pregnancy test.  The licensed health professionals at each of our three Bay Area Support Circle Clinics can administer a pregnancy test for you.  Whether your test comes back negative or positive for pregnancy, our health professionals can discuss possible reasons for your symptoms, or pregnancy options, and guide you through next steps.  Support Circle’s confidential services are offered free of charge.

Pregnancy Options

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