Tips for Managing the Stress of Infertility
You are constantly waiting for good news, you are waiting for your timing to be right, wondering why isn’t it happening for me yet, you see your Reproductive Endocrinologist providers more than most of your friends, you’ve become an expert on the reproductive system and it feels like everyone you see is having a baby. So, yeah, it makes sense that you may be experiencing some stress. The tricky part of this crazy roller coaster, that is infertility, is to not lose sight of your own self-care. I know folks are so focused on the end game – having a baby - that you may lose sight of You. How are you really doing? What do you need in this moment? How are you and your partner connecting? I truly believe the healthier you are feeling – mind and body – it can only help you on this unique, unpredictable journey that is Infertility.
Here are just a few strategies to incorporate into your daily life.
1. Know that research has shown a diagnosis of Infertility has a similar impact as the diagnosis of cancer. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY/EXAGGERATING/BEING DRAMATIC/ OR WEAK. It is HUGE. Have compassion for yourself and patience to digest your situation. There are no "supposed to's" or "shoulds," simply try and allow yourself to feel your feelings and then figure out what you need.
2. The Power of Positive Thinking - Put effort, time, and intention into adopting a positive mindset. Not all the time, not at the expense of allowing your truth to be heard or denying other feelings, but make time for it.
a. Start a gratitude journal – write down, daily, 5 things you are grateful for and why. It doesn’t have to be big – can be a range of things from your spouse or grateful for a cup of coffee.
b. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS, CHANGE YOUR MOOD.
3. Establish positive coping techniques – meditation, exercise, yoga are all great for mind and body. Building a practice in any/all of these can enhance your body and mind’s ability to be in a ‘relaxed state’ and calm that “monkey mind” that easily gets pulled into all the ‘what ifs.’
4. Become your biggest cheerleader!!! Pay attention to your self-talk – be encouraging, be kind, be compassionate, be positive – YOU ARE AWESOME-SAUCE!!!
a. Be a broken record of love & kindness when speaking to yourself. “I truly and deeply love and accept myself.”
5. BE SELFISH – in the best, most loving sense of the word. Be deeply invested in YOUR OWN JOY AND NEEDS, even if it may be at the expense of others. Infertility is a roller
coaster that keeps going, with lots of unpleasant turns, and painful surprises, you need to build your reserves of love & kindness and get really focused on what YOU need.
6. BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES!!!
Boundaries are good – boundaries are what allow us to be connected and in-relationship in a healthy way. Think carefully about your relationships, your work, your time devoted to others, and make sure you are not giving too much at the expense of yourself.!It is liberating and really OK to do.
7. FIND YOUR PEOPLE – I know for a lot of folks, they feel like they cannot talk to their friends or family about what they are going through, because they may not understand. Those who do find supports, have a greater sense of feeling Heard, that they are NOT ALONE, and find that there is strength in numbers. Find a support group, go to www.resolve.org, find a therapist, seek out groups via your church, or start with just one friend. I promise you, you will be amazed to see how many folks are touched by some degree of infertility.
The journey of infertility is exhausting, unpredictable, unkind, and can leave you feeling out of control. I urge you to practice these tips above – take back some control for YOU. Seek out supports who are going to encourage you, love you, listen to you, and remind you to do the above. A therapist who understands the complexities of reproductive issues can be a tremendous resource and ally on this journey. TAKE CARE OF YOU!