There has been a Twitter storm recently over comments made by Dr Hillary. He told a lady who had a number of unsuccessful IVF treatments “to just relax”.
Going through fertility treatment or the monthly cycle of hope and disappointment can propel you into a situation where you are thinking back into the past or forward into the future and never spending any time thinking about the present.
Always thinking about what has been or anticipating what is to come can be exhausting and may lead to a sense of things getting away from you.
This type of thinking can also interfere with simple pleasures such as being with friends or family, making love or making time to be creative.
Mindfulness classes, yoga and meditation all foster a sense of being ‘in the moment’ and can aid relaxation.
Sometimes something as simple as going for a walk, taking photographs, painting or drawing, singing, dancing or playing an instrument can re-engage your mind with the more playful self that stress and anxiety can smother.
If you practice feeling relaxed you can then recall this feeling in the midst of a stressful situation. We are not saying ‘relax and it will happen’ but instead ‘practice relaxation and it will help you cope’.
To progressively relax yourself, find a quiet corner of your home and lie on the floor. Beginning with your toes, tense and relax each muscle group in your body – from your toes to your head.
When you are completely relaxed, take a moment to notice how you feel. The more you practice this, the better you will be able to recall this feeling.
There are relaxation exercises you can practice discreetly too:
While seated, tense yourself all over, one part at a time.
Pull your toes up to tense some of your leg muscles, tense your thighs, your buttocks, take a deep breath and hold it, tense your arms and fists, your jaw, close your eyes tightly. Hold it for five seconds, then let go all at once, and feel the tension leave your system.
Close your eyes and draw your attention and concentration inward. Smile inwardly with your mouth and eyes.
Say to yourself “Alert mind, calm body.”
As you exhale, let your jaw, tongue, and shoulders go limp.
Feel a wave of warmth and heaviness sweep down to your toes. Enjoy the feeling of peace and relaxation that this brings.
Open your eyes and resume normal activities.
Try to raise your shoulders up to your eyes.
Hold for the count of four.
Now drop your shoulders back to a normal position. Repeat three times.
Rotate your shoulders back, down and around, first one way, then the other. Do one shoulder, then the other.
Now do both at the same time.
Many patients have raised concerns that some GPs lack the specialist knowledge needed to advise about infertility. To help people in this situation we wrote a blog on ‘5 questions to ask your GP’ – take a look here.