Coping with Infertility is challenging. We have to grieve the loss of not having children easily as we thought we would and whilst we cope, we have to make really important decisions about what to do next, deal with partners who may have different ways of seeing things and cope with so many social triggers.
It almost seems like no other challenge we might have encountered before has prepared us for this moment and this experience of infertility.
That’s why it’s important getting support and learning new ways of dealing with the challenge. In this article we will show you 10 strategies for coping with infertility.
We usually believe our emotions are outside our control, however that is not true. Our emotions are intrinsically linked to three aspects: our focus, our language and our posture. Do you remember a time in your life when you were sad or depressed? Remember that moment: you were focusing on something, maybe a situation that didn’t turn out the way you were expecting; you were using a certain language, maybe telling yourself “you’re failure” or “you’re not good enough”; and you were adopting a certain posture, shoulders down, head down, shallow breathing, maybe even crying.
Now try to remember a time when you were really happy? Maybe you accomplished something you had been working so hard for. Or maybe you went on holidays and had a really nice time. If you think of that moment, you will notice you are focusing on something different, a pleasant experience; you are using a very different language towards yourself; and your body has a different posture, maybe shoulders back, head up, smiling, confident.
This exercise shows that our emotions are somewhat under our control and we can change them by changing one of the aspects of the triad: our focus, our language or our posture.
So next time you want to quickly change your state to a better mood, remember all you have to do is start by changing your posture, stand up, shoulders back, head up and take a deep breath. Then try to remember that special experience that made you feel really happy and what language you were using towards yourself then. You will be surprise by how quickly your emotions will shift!
In our day to day, we get so used to doing things by routine that we easily lose touch with the present moment and our surroundings. Our mind starts to ruminate and think about the past that we can no change or the future that hasn’t happened yet. And as a consequence, we get emotionally distressed which affects our ability to get on with our life, with the present moment and the things we can in fact do something about.
Mindfulness is a way of bringing our awareness back to the present moment, and noticing our body, our emotions and our surroundings without judgement. One of the easiest ways of incorporating mindfulness into your routine is the Body Scan. This lasts about 3 minutes and will help you connect with your body and the present moment. Listen to the Body Scan mindfulness here.
You may not be aware of, but our thoughts are intrinsically linked to what happens in our life. This happens because the thoughts we have about a certain experience, trigger certain emotions, which make us take certain actions, which lead to the results we get.
A way of changing the thoughts in our head (and therefore our feelings, actions and results) is through affirmations. Affirmations are statements you say repeatedly, every morning or every night, relating to something you want to believe. And as you say it repeatedly, over time, it will become an internalised belief, which will make you act a certain way and get certain results. It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can choose the affirmations that are relevant to you, for example “My body is healthy”, or “I am ready for this pregnancy”. You can also get an affirmations book which will help you with different affirmations to choose from.
Gratitude has also been proved to change our brain and improve mental health. Starting a gratitude journal and writing down things you are grateful for can help you during your fertility journey. In the beginning you may find it difficult to find one thing you are grateful for, but after a few days, you will notice that it becomes easier and you will find many more! Include small and big things in your life, for example people that are meaningful to you, or the simple fact that someone has given you a seat in the train. You may even do this exercise with a partner or significant other, you will see how it will reinforce the connection between the two of you.
During this journey of trying to conceive, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the things we “have to do” and forget about ourselves and what we enjoy doing. But self-care is crucial. If you are not well, this journey is going to be much more challenging. So, make sure you take time out for yourself as an individual. Choose an activity that gives you meaning,pleasureand accomplishmentthat is not related to fertility. Maybe you enjoy going to the cinema, reading, going for a walk, getting a massage or doing a certain hobby.
This is only Part 1 of Strategies to Coping with Infertility. Don’t miss out Part 2 coming out tomorrow!
Andreia Trigo | RN BSc MSc