Understanding & Relieving Stress
Stress stemming from infertility puts the body, mind, and spirit of a person at a disadvantage. It minimizes joy in daily activities and can invite a negative self image. Once negativity is allowed to intrude, it can encourage a cycle of feelings such as unworthiness, shame, disappointment, and even anger. Physically, stress can affect how the body feels, even decreasing the effectiveness of the immune system. It is also know that the hormone produced by stress, cortisol, can interfere with fertility.
How to manage stress
Stress management can enhance any situation in which we may find ourselves. The body, mind, and spirit are so connected that to treat only the physical part of a person may be overlooking other aspects needing attention. The mind, body, and spirit can only be enhanced by reducing stress and injecting positive thoughts during infertility treatment.
Consider some of these techniques to help control stress:
- Breathing. Inhaling and exhaling with the intention of bringing more oxygen into the body leads to relaxation. Breathing techniques work best when used routinely and are especially helpful during fertility testing and procedures.
- Meditation. If you enjoy meditation, incorporate focus on the physical body including appreciation of the body and its capabilities. It helps maintain a sense of well-being and capability.
- Nutrition. Minimize stimulants such as cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine. A body under stress does not need additional stimulation. Eating a balanced diet helps to provide more energy and is also good practice for a pre-natal diet should treatment be successful.
- Exercise. Choose any exercise that makes you feel good.
- Focus on Relationship. Trying to conceive can start to feel like a chore rather than a pleasurable experience. Take time to enjoy your relationship with any activities you both enjoy. Spend time on a daily basis appreciating and supporting each other.
- Massage. Make time to get a professional massage or entice your partner into providing one at home.
- Take a Class. Find an exercise, yoga, meditation, art, cooking or other class that provides a period of relaxation and enjoyment.
- Gratitude Journal. At the end of each day, write down five events of the day for which you are grateful. Over a period of time, it will become easier to appreciate all aspects of life and feel more positive.
- Laugh Often. The old adage that laughter is the best medicine is a good one to keep in mind. Engaging in any activities that make you feel good enough to laugh is a wonderful stress reliever.
To supplement your other stress-relieving activities, choose inspirational reading material such as some of those suggested here, or find your own.
- The Wellness Book, Herbert Benson, M.D. & Eileen M. Stuart, R.N., C.M.S
- Before You Think Another Thought, Bruce I. Doyle
- Your Body Believes Everything You Say, Barbara Hoberman Levine
- The Power of Now, Elkhart Tolle
If you find yourself overwhelmed by stress and unable to cope on your own, please see our Emotional Support page for information on how you can find help.