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  1. 10 tips for keeping on top of your emotional health and well-being whilst coping with infertility.

     

     

    As someone who went through 6 cycles of IVF and years of investigation I know 1st hand how much of an impact infertility can have on our emotional health. 

     

    Coping with infertility can be a stressful and confusing time. The thing you have always taken for granted you would one day have – a family – when it doesn’t go to plan can cause all sorts of emotions and feelings of grief and loss. You may feel preoccupied, constantly worrying, waiting, watching for any sign of hope.  You might feel you have somehow failed, that you’ve lost your identity, and your self-esteem can take a nose-dive. You can also feel angry and isolated, and like you have nowhere to turn. As each month goes by the downward cycle of despair continues.  

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     Keeping on top of your emotional well-being when going through the various stages of infertility and treatment is so important, and in today’s blog we are going to cover 10 ways you can try and combat these sometimes overwhelming emotions.

     

     

    1. Be your own best friend. Show yourself self-love regularly and don’t punish yourself by stopping doing all the things you enjoy. Keeping your hobbies and enjoyable moments will keep your mind focussed on more positive things, and in turn will help your mood. Living your life whilst keeping a place for your baby, but not putting everything on hold. 

     

    2. Get fresh air and/or regular exercise. Getting outside and enjoying nature and the outside world can really help get you out of your own head. If you find yourself cutting yourself off from everyone and everything because you feel you can’t cope, in the long term you will only feel worse. Getting out and doing some exercise – whether it be walking, running, cycling, swimming or a sport you enjoy – whatever you can manage – it releases chemicals that in turn will affect your brain in a positive way. Even just putting on some music and letting yourself go for 5 minutes can change your whole mood. 

     

    3. Keep connected to your friends and family. It may feel tempting to cut yourself off from everyone because everything feels too hard, especially if they have babies and children, but don’t isolate yourself. Sometimes when you focus on what’s going on in their lives not just yours, it gives you something else to think about and the things that seem so huge in your world are brought back into line.

     

    4. Keep talking. Don’t bottle it up. Talk about it with a loved one, partner, GP or health professional. Or if you’re worried you’re just going over the same ground and your friends and family are losing interest, or they don’t understand, then there are so many support groups out there. Find a group with people who are going through what you are and who can really relate.

     

    5. If you find talking about it too hard, write everything down. Just to get it out of your head. It helps to process your thoughts, and makes room for other thoughts. It doesn’t have to be an articulate piece of writing. Even just a list or bullet points can help.

     

    6. Practice positive self-talk and mindfulness. Try and be in the present, focussing on the now – not what’s happened before or what might happen in the future. Enjoy the moment you’re in. This might mean changing the way you think. Using yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices are a good tool to help with this. Join a class, or access them online. There are loads out there.

     

    7. Stay busy and active, and don’t put your whole life on hold. Keep doing the things you love. If you love your work, focus on that. If you have some hobbies you love, focus on them. At the same time don’t try and take on too much. Control the things you can control. It could just be you clean out a cupboard you’ve been meaning to for a while. The sense of achievement will really make a difference to how you feel. You’ve taken control of that one thing. Make sure you have something to look forward to as well, like going on holiday or an upcoming event.

     

    8. Accept it won’t be easy and have strategies in place to help you cope. Don’t put yourself in situations you know you won’t cope with. i.e. a friend’s baby shower or christening. If it is a situation you can’t get out of then decide beforehand how you will cope if things get too much. Maybe you can speak to the friends and family involved and let them know where you’re at so they will understand if you have to leave suddenly or take some time out. Remember you don’t have to say yes to everything. Think about how it will affect you and make a decision that is best for you at that time.

     

    9. Create a list of coping strategies. It could be that you’ve tried exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing etc. Some of those methods might work for you and some may not. Keep a note of what works and what doesn’t so you know what to do next time you get into a situation where things feel too much to handle.

     

    10. Pause for a total of 20 minutes a day. It might not be all in one go. You could spread it across the day. Stop what you are doing. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Go somewhere quiet and just be. Reset your mind.

     

     

    Not all of these tips may work for you, but think about how you’ve been feeling. Assess where your emotional health is at on a regular basis. Some questions to ask yourself are…

     

     

    • Are you struggling with things you usually find easy? It could be the smallest thing, you put something down and you can’t find it anywhere but when you do it was right in front of you all along. 

     

    • Are you struggling to make decisions? Not the big decisions that are always taxing but even just what to have for lunch seems like a huge deal. 

     

    • Are you feeling less independent and more like you need others to take care of the things in your daily life that you used to enjoy? The things that you used to love and do without thinking, now feel like a huge drag? 

     

    If you answered yes to any of those, then they are signs of psychological overload. If you try the above tips and you’re still feeling anxious, depressed or stressed constantly then it’s important to seek help and support.

     

    Make your emotional health a priority.

     

    This is the type of support I offer now as a freedom fertility specialist and myself and my other colleagues have had great success using the mind body approach enabling people to live fuller and happier lives and in lots of cases realising their dream of becoming parents. 

     

    If you would like support or more information on the freedom fertility formula please get in touch.

     

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    Mandy xx 

     

  2. How to practise self care as an entrepreneur…

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    A guest blog by Pamela Rae-Welsh, Director of Worsley Creative Services.

    As a business owner you wear so many hats that finding the time to do anything relating to personal health and wellbeing is often left to the very bottom of the to-do list. There is always a number of conflicting priorities that the belief and mindset that there just isn’t enough time to do something for yourself or work on your own development is strong; and more often than not, wins.

    The evidence on the benefits of self-care for business owner is vast – take Amy Chen’s article in Entrepreneur magazine back in April 2019 for example. In this brilliant insight, Amy describes the effects of chronic high stress as costing the UK economy over £15bn, and how, as business owners we should consider self-care as an investment not a nice to have – and quotes that for every $1 spent on health and wellness there is a $14 return in productivity and happiness!

    Considering the benefits, it has got me thinking that I need to find more time to invest in self-care activities and so I have come up with a few accessible suggestions that you might also find interesting, and most importantly, doable. If you don’t have the budget for far flung escapes or expensive gym memberships, it can trigger a “what’s the point” mindset – but there are some smaller things you can do which will pay dividends!

     

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    1. Lock the bathroom door. Sounds stupid – but think about how often you rush your shower or bath, find yourself brushing your teeth while being asked where a piece of homework is or a dog looking up at you asking for a walk? Set yourself the boundary that you are alone in the bathroom. As long as kids and animals are safe and cannot access naked flames it is unlikely that they will be irreparably damaged by you going to the loo in peace and having time to actually use conditioner.
    2. Substitute one car journey for a walk. Not a walk in the howling rain and wind that is unavoidable (like walking the dog that so patiently asked while you were brushing your teeth) or the school run where the anxiety levels are at a peak; but one where you could take the car but choose not to. The important thing with this task is to not have your phone in your hand. Put it in your bag – or your pocket if it really needs to be accessible. Be responsible for no one or anything. Look up. Take in what is around you and use it as a chance to really think and let your brain have some freedom! This might sound a bit woo woo but honestly it is really liberating.
    3. Commit each week to getting exercise. If you can’t afford a class then youtube is an amazing resource of classes for all levels and abilities. The most important thing here is to exercise for how it makes you feel rather than how it makes you look, and to do it for fun, rather than because you think you should. I am going to commit to two types of exercise this year – Fitness at the Farm with Leah Maclean because I love being outdoors and Leah’s approach is so fun I am proud to be part of her tribe, and also yoga!! I have always be a yoga-phobe; intimidated by all those svelte, bendy, incredibly beautiful boho babes that make a tree pose look sexy (where I make a tree pose look – well – look like a tree!), so I am nervously entering the world of yoga because I know that I need to temper my hyper activity. I am so looking to working with Brenda Yoga – who is the kindest and most accessible yoga teacher I have ever come across. There are so many different types of exercise – when you are next on the loo with your phone (door locked of course) do a search and see what sparks your imagination.
    4. Start a wellness fund. Now this can be a jar that you add the odd 20p too and you treat yourself to a face mask when you get to £2, or you can set up an account that you add a standing order too. Whatever you can afford, put money aside that is purely for you to use on you. Whether it is treating yourself to a night at a wellness retreat like Chetham Farm, or enough for an afternoon tea at the local indulgent parlour – the important thing is it is only for you. The temptation to put all of your money into the children, or the house, or whatever priority is calling for funds, DO NOT DO IT. Get someone else to look after it if you must.
    5. Make human connections. Networking as a business owner can feel forced; talking to Mums at the school gate can feel intimidating; and speaking to old school friends can feel like a giant competition. Everything can feel overwhelming if you try to do it all; so focus on what makes you feel comfortable. I am not naturally confident in company (which normally really surprises people!) I do not make friends easily because in general, people don’t get me. I’m too hyper, too intense, too – well – much. So I am spending self-care time this year with curating my circle carefully, and doing an audit on spending time with people that do not bring me joy (sorry to use a Marie Kondo quote there!)

     

    In my role as online visibility specialist I am often talking to entrepreneurs who are near burn out because they are putting everything into showing up for their business. Working with me to create their dream website design and digital presence they show the absolute best of themselves, but often neglect their own wellbeing – which means they can’t enjoy the spoils of their business earnings when they come. I am working now to support my clients with a more holistic approach to leadership and management. As part of this, in my online visibility membership group I have introduced the monthly mindset series which is hosted by counsellor and therapist Aislinn Marek of The Calm Within, and each month we focus on topics which benefit the wellbeing of members, not just their technical competence.

    These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more to think about when it comes to self-care and finding time out. Maybe you have suggestions to add to this mix? The thing that I have learnt most recently however is to have a set of goals at different levels rather than just “big goals”. Small goals like taking a walk each day when I could drive are easier to achieve, finding the time to invest in a full weekend retreat will take me longer (but I am going to do it and can’t wait for Chetham Farm Retreat to look after me for a whole weekend). The most important thing is to recognise you need it… (and to lock the bathroom door – it is a GAMECHANGER!)

     

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    Pamela Rae-Welsh is a leading Manchester branding designer, website stylist and online visibility specialist. Based in Manchester and Oxfordshire, Pamela helps to support entrepreneurs with their digital marketing strategy. Passionate about providing small businesses with a big business toolkit so that they can operate at the top of their field, Pamela is also a parent, woman and human being – who has recently taken to locking the bathroom door!