Engaging your playful mind and taking time for fun can help re-set your emotional blood pressure. Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity for a bit of self-love.
Going through fertility treatment, or the monthly cycle of hope and disappointment, can easily 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.
This type of thinking can interfere with simple pleasures such as being with friends or family, making love or making time to be creative. As a result the desire to get pregnant can get all-consuming.
Re-set your emotional blood pressure
Being told to ‘relax and it will happen’ is one of the most infuriating things to be told when trying to conceive.
Stress comes when our thoughts and feelings are out of step with the actions we are taking – like putting on a brave face to appear outwardly happy, despite inner turmoil.
Being stressed may not be the cause of infertility, but stress releases adrenaline which has a negative impact on the fertility hormones.
While actively trying for a baby, the hurt will still be there, but there are ways to improve your resilience to stress and increase your emotional wellbeing and these are beneficial on many levels.
Sometimes something as simple as going for a walk, taking photographs, singing or dancing can re-engage your mind with the more playful self that stress and anxiety can smother.
Just like every other system in the body, our emotions have a desired ‘set point’. To keep our sense of well-being and our ’emotional blood pressure’ balanced we have developed various coping techniques.
And, because all of our body systems are interconnected, mental, emotional and physical care provides multiple benefits for your fertility.
Achieving a steady emotional blood pressure is not about changing the script to fit and sound like what you want, it is about respecting the reality of what has happened so that you can take action that restores your ability to live your best in that reality.
Here are some ways to balance your emotional blood pressure:
- Be in the moment – 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. Mindfulness classes, yoga and meditation all foster a sense of being ‘in the moment’ and can aid relaxation.
- Be pragmatic – you are doing the best you can with what you know: “I know what I want, and I will find a way to live with what happens.”
- Give yourself freedom – preparing yourself for failure does not protect you from disappointment. You will be disappointed if you don’t become pregnant – give yourself the freedom to anticipate the possibility of success while understanding you might have to try again.
- Understand your coping style (and your partner’s) – respect that it will likely need tweaks in order to manage infertility-related stress and distress.
- Develop a shared script – honour and respect that script.
- Seek out support – physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual.
- Listen rather than suggest – you cannot fix this problem with ‘doing’. You can improve the struggle by becoming informed, experiencing it together, asking for what you need, and providing sanctuary in your relationship.
- Expand your thinking – it is possible to feel better about not being pregnant right now. Thinking “I will not be happy until I am pregnant” is the same mind trap as “I will not be happy until I am a size 10.” The only thing guaranteed is that you will not be happy.
- Become familiar with how your body experiences stress (gut, blood pressure, sweating, heart rate) – commit to at least three strategies to mitigate that response. There is lots of evidence that suggests that when we feel better we are doing better, even if there is not a test that shows that directly in our reproductive system.
(written with thanks to Liz O’Donnell, PhD. Read more from Liz at www.mindingmatters.com)