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.
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.