Answer from: Karenna Wood
Infertility can be so stressful, it is such a challenging time but the great news is there are ways to travel through this a little better. Using some relaxation, self-care thinking tools, relationship tools, can all really help you to cope a little bit better. So, starting off with something really key as breathing, now it can sound really simple but I use a little trick called 7-11 breathing in just to get you to breathe a little bit deeper. Breathe in for 7 and out for 11. When we enable ourselves to just breathe a bit more deeply we take a moment and we actually initiate our body’s natural relaxation response, so you’re actually counteracting some of the stress and the way that it’s impacting you and your body because often we can feel stress in certain areas like our neck, or our shoulders, or tightness, breathing into those areas can really help start that relaxation process and it’s something simple that you can do in any moment.
Akin to that, there are lots of other sorts of practices that can help you breathe a bit deeper as well, things like meditation, and guided visualization, or yoga, these sorts of relaxation practices and tools can really support you to relax your body. Second to that is things like self-care what brings you joy, what really bolsters you and makes you feel better, do those things more and make time for them. Self-care is not selfish – it is necessary, particularly when you are under increased stress. I encourage you to have some sort of self-care ideas or routine, whatever works for you is very individual.
Another thing is being aware of your thoughts. Our thoughts drive our emotions which can drive our stress, so being aware of some of the things that you might be thinking, that might not be healthy for you or when we have those negative spirals downwards, maybe jotting them down in a journal – that might help you to become aware of some of those thoughts and just think about the alternative. How could I think about this in a different way? Or getting some support from a counselor or a coach to do that.
Another thing is other people can cause a lot of stress during infertility, so maybe it’s around being strong and managing those in a different way. It may be that you have to sort of slow down, or not see certain friends as much if they’re causing an area of stress, being really clear with family and close friends around what you need, and being open and chatting with your partner in as much of a fun way as you possibly can because that’s really important to try and bring some of that fun and those open elements back into your close relationship. With stress, you don’t have to go through this alone and I think that’s really key that there is support and there are tools out there for you to cope with the stresses of infertility a little better.
Answer from: Andreia Trigo, RN, MSc
How do I manage stress? If you are feeling stressed when trying to conceive, know that your response is 100% normal to your circumstances. A large percentage of people who are trying to conceive do feel stressed. Stress is a normal body reaction to any change that happens and that requires us to adjust or to respond to it. The way our body responds is with physical, mental, and emotional signals. Stress is actually a normal part of life. We can experience stress from our environment, our thoughts, our circumstances in life. We only need to pay attention to stress when we notice that we are becoming overwhelmed by it when we notice that is becoming excessive when it’s keeping us from moving on with our life.
I’m going to share with you some simple strategies to help you manage stress. The first strategy is to note that you are not your emotions, you are not your stress. The difference between “I feel stressed” vs. “I am stressed” is big. When we say “I am stressed”, we are identifying with our emotions and it makes it much more difficult to detach ourselves from that emotion. Instead of saying “I am stressed”, our first step is to recognize that we are not our emotions and we’re going to start by saying “I feel stressed”.
The second thing that you need to do is to acknowledge that all our emotions are linked to our thoughts. If we’re feeling stressed, anxious, worried, or angry that’s because we are thinking about something in our head. Try reflecting on the thought that is triggering that feeling and then reflect about the actions that you are taking as a consequence of that feeling and the results that you are getting as a result of those actions. Start by noticing the trigger and you will be able to adjust the feeling and you will be able to adjust the stress.
Strategy number three is to speak to yourself with compassion. When you notice that automatic thought, try to challenge that thought. Is there a different way to respond to that situation? Is there a different meaning that you can give to what is happening to you?
Finally, don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. If you feel unable to manage stress, if you feel disconnected with yourself, with others, with your work, or your environment, if you feel emotionally exhausted like you have nothing left to give if you feel that you cannot engage in activities that give you accomplishment and pleasure, if you feel that your emotions are paralyzing you and keeping you from getting on with life – it’s time to ask for help.
How to deal with stress connected to infertility?
Infertility treatments are without a doubt linked to strong emotions like anxiety, uncertainty, hopelessness but also stress. How to overcome stress and deal with the most difficult moments on your journey to become a parent?