Stress. It’s something we all deal with — and overcome — at some point. But for those of us struggling with infertility, that stress tends to stick around until the moment we’re cradling a baby in our arms. And the longer we’re stuck trying and waiting, the more intense that stress can become.
For me, that stress has lasted for nearly four years — four years of four miscarriages, six IVF transfers, two IVF egg retrievals, and lost twins during delivery. Needless to say, I’m no stranger to the stress and depression that accompanies infertility.
The roller coaster of emotions around trying to conceive can be even more challenging than the treatments themselves, sending you into a whirlpool of sadness and obsession. “Just relax and it will happen” is complete nonsense, but stress seriously doesn’t help.
While we can’t always change our circumstances, we can change how we deal with them. Here are 11 ways you (and those with infertile loved ones) can relieve some of the stress of infertility:
1. Pick up an old (or new) hobby.
It’s easy to let infertility stress take over. So much so, in fact, that we forget what we used to do for fun.
Well, I say no more. Don’t let go of who you were and what you loved to do before conceiving became an issue. Don’t let infertility define you. Get back on that bike of yours or try attending that dance class you’ve always been interested in — you’ll be glad you did.
2. Dance it out.
It’s a little dated, but a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Health Education found dancing reduces stress and increases life satisfaction. So crank up your favorite jam and dance like nobody’s watching.
3. Take up yoga, or another mind-body technique.
Yoga is so much more than yoga pants and Downward Dog. In it’s truest form, yoga is all about harmonizing the body with the mind through various breathing techniques, yoga postures, and meditation. And that connection between mind and body plays an important role in reducing stress and achieving fertility success.
Another way to connect the mind and body for fertility success is through visualization. Essentially, use your mind’s eye to visualize what’s happening (or should be happening) in your body. This imagery is an effective tool for reversing the harmful effects of stress.
If you want to learn more about the concept of visualization and its importance in beating infertility, I highly recommend listening to my interview with Joanne Verkuilen, founder of Circle+Bloom.
A study published in BMC Public Health by Dr. Suzanne Richards in August 2013 indicates that volunteering has been shown to lower levels of depression and increase levels of well-being.
Find a cause you can devote your time, energy, and passion to. I don’t know about you, but some days, infertility consumes my every waking moment. Volunteering gives you something else to think about. And it presents a great opportunity for fertile and infertile friends to work together side-by-side for the greater good. Everybody wins!
5. Eat calming foods, not comfort foods.
Stress results in increased cortisol levels, which causes food cravings. For women, that typically means carbs and sweets. Unfortunately, eating these foods during times of stress leads to a slower metabolism — and potentially weight gain.
According to Keri Glassman in this article for Prevention, stick to “calming” food instead, such as berries, cashews, chamomile or green tea, dark chocolate (in moderation, of course), grass-fed beef, oatmeal, oranges, and walnuts.
6. Adopt a furry friend.
By no means does adopting a dog or cat fill the void that the lack of a successful pregnancy creates. However, our furry friends can provide so much stress relief. They serve as our most trusted confidant, a source of laughter and smiles, and an all-around distraction from the reality of our infertility.
7. Try a little tenderness.
This one, especially, applies to the men and women dealing with infertility. The trial-and-error process of conceiving is stressful for both and can leave a lot to be desired in other aspects of the relationship.
So, try a little tenderness toward each other. A special meal, an after-dinner stroll, or a simple hug can make a world of difference on the toughest of days.
8. Treat yo self.
From weekly doctor appointments to countless blood tests to daily injections, being treated for infertility can feel like a full-time job. And a job well done deserves a pat on the back. Whether it’s a with a massage or that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, be sure to treat yo self.
9. Create something.
Struggling with infertility can make you feel like you’ve lost all control. So what better way to gain back a sense of control than to create something from nothing? Try taking a pottery class or a group painting class. Let go and create.
10. Write it down.
When you’re surrounded by an abundance of Fertile Myrtles, it can be hard to find someone to vent to. If that’s the case, write it down.
Try keeping a journal or starting a blog (it doesn’t have to be public). Having a place to record your thoughts can be a great outlet for the stress and anxiety that accompanies infertility. Best of all, a journal is never too busy or unwilling to listen (even at 3 a.m., when you wouldn’t dare wake a friend).
11. Unplug and escape.
In an age dominated by Facebook pregnancy announcements and baby photo shoots, being online can take you from bad to worse. Sometimes, the best way to cope is to unplug and get away.
Take a few days away from social media (it won’t kill you, I promise) and get out. Go somewhere new and exciting. Taking a trip somewhere not only helps you stay off of social media, but also is a great way to escape your day-to-day problems for a bit.
How do you and yours cope with infertility stress? Leave a comment below!
Has anyone read any of these?
Over the years I have stumbled upon many books, blogs, scriptures, resource links, and testimonies that have helped fill my hope bucket and refuel my faith. And friends, can I just be honest? If it were not for the encouraging words I have found in the pages of these books, and in the scriptures I have memorized, or the blogs I have stalked or testimonies I have watched, I am not sure I would still be believing for my miracle today. I am not sure I could still manage to keep hoping after seeing my 23,948,948 negative pregnancy test. Or keep persevering despite the set backs, failed treatment cycles and a heartbreaking miscarriage. And I’m not sure I could still be joyful despite my circumstances. Which is why I wanted to share with you my resources…my lifeline…my go to places for hope, inspiration, encouragement, peace and comfort in…
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Were there any foods you added or took away from your diet during infertility treatments?
A blog by Stephanie Levich, Family Match Consulting, May 29, 2015
Coping with infertility is a challenge for anybody. Even though I had worked in the fertility field for over a decade before I found out that I too needed help to have a baby, I still was completely overwhelmed and frankly pretty devastated. Friends were getting pregnant within a month of trying, or worse, not trying at all. And there I was…wanting it so badly, and waiting month after month, with so many trips back to the trash can PRAYING that the second line maybe decided to show up. Well, it never did. But thankfully, IVF was my savior and now I’ve made it my mission to help others get through this crazy roller coaster ride we call infertility.
Here are five things I did that helped me cope through my personal journey:
I talked about it. I talked to my mom, my best friends, and most importantly my husband. I told them when I was having a crappy day and I called them after each appointment. I had no shame about our infertility journey and I loved, and so needed their support.
I planned things to look forward to. A massage, a great meal somewhere, even a vacation that we would take if we didn’t get pregnant. Having something on the calendar to be excited about if we didn’t get our good news was nice and the planning process ended up being a welcomed distraction.
I began declining invitations to baby showers and kid’s birthday parties. It just became too difficult. I wanted to be there for my friends but I realized that I needed to protect myself too. No matter how genuinely happy I was for my friends (and I truly was) I couldn’t help but wonder when my turn would come.
I always had a plan B, plan C, and so forth. While some people don’t want to think about alternative ways to build their family, I needed to. I already knew about egg donation and surrogacy having worked in the field for many years, but I spoke to several domestic and international adoption agencies to learn the process. I needed to know that no matter what, some way, somehow I would become a mommy.
I tried to find the humor. My husband and I would laugh about all the silly things we tried in hopes of finally getting that second line. We giggled every night while getting ready for my nightly injections because who would have ever thought that disrobing in the middle of our kitchen with a needle in hand would become our evening routine?
Those are my tips! What are some tips and tricks that you have found helpful throughout your fertility journey?