Learning to Manage the Stress

There comes a point in your infertility journey where you feel like a) all you do is think about infertility 2) complain about your infertility or 3) do both at the exact same time. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of my time has been occupied thinking about upcoming treatments, looking up additional information of things to improve egg quality, thinking about how to pay for everything, and thinking about how easy it is for others to get pregnant but it isn’t for you.

When you are in the infertility world, you don’t dip your toes in. No, you dive head first into ice cold water, fully submersed in your clothes. You don’t have to have time to dress appropriately for the occasion.

Nope. You’re fully dressed, soaking wet, looking for the next life raft to come by and scoop you up and save you. For us that was our Reproductive Endocrinologist, my acupuncturist, all the books, studies, everything, I threw myself at to try and get pregnant.

Infertility is neurotic, maddening, and fully encapsulating.

Its hard not to get swept away in the currents. Infertility is stressful. Life itself is stressful. So its so important to find ways to balance those stresses.

That’s why its so very important to not go too over board. Part of coping with infertility on my part, took a lot of patience and also figuring out what was helpful to me. So here are a few coping tricks that I used that might be beneficial to you, whether you are dealing with infertility or just additional stresses, whether it be work or personal. It’s all about just finding ways to distract yourself or make you feel good. In whatever form that comes in.

Journalling

I’m a firm believer in writing out (also hence the blog) your emotions as a way of coping. Sometimes just writing it out on paper, is just so therapeutic. For me, I went out and bought a brand new journal just for all things infertility related. I document every doctors appointment, all my medication doses, side effects, how I am feeling so that one day when I am pregnant, I’ll have this journal full of our detailed infertility story to look back on and all the things I did to get there.

I also document the bad days or the days I feel so hopeful. On days where I feel so miserable and down, I write down all my fears and all that I am feeling. Or all the petty feelings, things that I would be so embarrassed to say our loud or ashamed of for thinking. But when you journal, its just you and your pen. There is no judgement, no backlash. Just you and your thoughts.

So go out and get a journal. Or write on spare paper laying around your house. Burn it, keep it, do whatever you please just get those words out to help ease your burden.

Write a List of All that You are Grateful for

Another thing that really helped center myself was writing a list of all the things that are going well for me and that I am grateful for. For a brief moment, surround yourself with gratefulness and distract yourself from what you don’t have. On days where I would feel overwhelmed I would write out my list of all that I was grateful for.

This list would always differ but always had the following: my husband, my mom, my sisters, family, friends, my fur babies, a house over our head, and that we both have jobs. But some other things that would venture onto the list would include: seasonal fruits in harvest (yeah seriously, I love fruits when they are in season), that every month my menstrual cramps got better with acupuncture (in my mind, I like to equip this with getting my bodily flow in order and then having a better labor when the time comes), fresh bed sheets (seriously forever grateful for this), the slow pace of Sundays, and a good cup of tea. Some of the most mundane things of life, you just have to stop and appreciate them for all that they are.

Doesn’t matter whats on your list, just make it and relish in what each item on your list brings for you.

Positive Affirmations

Something that helped me was to create a positive affirmation for whenever I was feeling overwhelmed or stressed. For me I focused on you are worthy, you are fertile. As simple as it seems, when I felt like our infertility journey was out of control, I repeated that over and over in my mind until I almost believed it myself. Why yes of course I am worthy of a child and yes, I may not be the definition of overflowing fertility, but I am young and I am fertile. Well, to some degree.

Create your own mantra or look up positive affirmations online. Find one that suits your and stick to it.

Yoga

Another thing that really helped “quiet my mind” was yoga. Particularly restorative yoga classes. For me I focused on the benefits of this for two reasons. Foremost, it was just a time to focus on myself, my practice and let go of the stress that my body was holding onto just from simply being alive, from moving, and working. The activities that occupy our daily lives.

Secondly, I looked at it from the perspective of looking into a hopeful future. I saw it as taking the time to nurture my body but also to prepare it for pregnancy, for labor, for delivery. I focused on all the good that its doing now for my body, but also what good it will do for my body in the future.

A large part of yoga is controlling your breath and using it as a way to breath into the areas of your body that were feeling pulled or stretched or just simply need that extra attention. It also teaches you to focus on your breath, whenever your mind starts to wander.

Meditation

Similarly as mentioned with yoga, meditation is a way to control your breathing and just simply turn off your mind. You can sit on a floor cross legged or even just lay in bed with your eyes closed.

Just close your eyes, focus on your breathing. Or set your intentions for the day, your goals, you dreams. Just take 5 to 15 minutes, however long you feel comfortable with and just simply be and live in the moment.

Self-Care

I cannot praise self care enough. Whenever I feel stressed, I go have a bath, bring a book and a cup of tea and just relax. Sometimes I can stay in the tub for hours, as long as it takes to feel like I am myself again.

But self care doesn’t always have to be baths and books. Instead focus on other things. Sometimes self care for me is simply making a super healthy and nutritious meal because my body needs to be spoiled by healthy goodness.

Do things that are going to make you feel better. I wash our bed sheets EVERY Sunday. Its such a simple task but to me, its starting the week on a fresh start and it just feels so dang good to hop into bed Sunday night with crisp, fresh sheets. Its the little things that make life so good.

Dance It Out

I used to HATE dancing because I am a terrible dancer and felt so uncomfortable knowing how awkward I was. Now, I love it. Some days where I feel like crying all day, when Robbie leaves for work, I blast some music and dance around the house until I feel better.

Some days I twirl around to Ella Fitzgerald, other days I dance to Taylor Swift. Some days are just for whatever feels good at the time. Yesterday it was Walking on Sunshine. You just never know but it feels good to just dance and distract yourself.

Vision Board

Some peoples definition of a vision board is bristol board and magazine cut outs, but that’s not for me. For me, my vision board comes in different forms. I have so many secret pinterest boards (baby girl nursery, baby boy nursery, infertility motivational quotes, natural baby products etc) but what really helps solidify things for me is actually buying baby items.

If I buy it, its putting positive vibes into the universe that I know I will need this item in the future. So in my nursery (basically just a spare bedroom that now has no bed) I have a large collection of essential baby items that I know I will need when I have a baby.

For a long time I didn’t buy anything because I thought what if I never get the chance to use this? Now I just know I will have a child and I will need it, so I might as well buy it while its on sale. It’s just one more thing that keeps the dream alive.

The key to managing stress is to try to place emphasis on finding your own conscious thoughts and using that to either distract you temporarily or to help you over come them. Journalling and yoga for me are about learning to deal with my emotions and get a better grasp on them, getting them out of your system. Where things like dancing, well that’s just to temporarily distract myself and get the good vibes flowing.

Find something that will help you manage your stress. For you that might be painting, running, or throwing yourself into your work. Just whatever you do, learn what helps you deal with your life stresses. In whatever form that may be.

Find your own definition of coping mechanisms. Just make sure that whatever they are they are healthy and not self-harming in any manner to you or your well being.

I hope whatever you are going through, you find ways to help cope with your life stressors.

Rebecca

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