“While stress does not cause infertility, infertility most definitely causes stress.” The latter, shared by RESOLVE.org, is obvious, but the former is really important to remember.
Your overwhelmed and anxious state-of-mind is not causing pregnancy issues. Rather, the dizzying number of variables involved push us mentally, physically, and emotionally to the edge. I lived this for six years, and can tell you that the financial burden, the tax placed on a marriage, the isolation and sense of loss, or pressing comments to “just relax” from well-intentioned friends only compound the stress.
So how do we deal? By any means necessary.
Processing these feelings, and the grief associated with TTC and infertility, is something that requires emotion-focused coping. This technique reduces negative responses to stress through prayer, meditation, writing, distractions, and even eating or drinking.
Contrarily, problem-focused coping is more practical stress management, achieved through problem solving. If a work project is stressful, you could tackle that in a real, tangible way. This approach isn’t ideal for those trying to conceive because the stressor is beyond anyone’s control.
Once you accept, to some degree, that your fertility is out of your hands, you can quell the stress in emotionally-focused ways that have proved helpful for your fellow TTC community.
Here are five ways to reduce stress while trying to conceive that I can personally attest to, as can some friends from the community.
Find a new hobby. Use all of this pre-parenting time to explore interests and passions you never get around to. Who knows, maybe you’ll make one lop-sided vase and be over your pottery dream. Or perhaps finally take a photography class that turns into a second career.
Start a blog. Writing is a cathartic activity many TTC women rely on. I credit it with saving my sanity while we were going through IVF. You can achieve social connections and create a therapeutic outlet for yourself. I honestly treasure the documented history of this time in my life.
Stay busy…even if it means cleaning out closets. That’s how Jennipher Walters, CEO of FitBottomedGirls, dealt. Tend the garden, visit friends, volunteer, bake more cookies than you can eat, or even jump on the coloring bandwagon. You’ll come to appreciate the distractions.
Get physical. Not that kind; this is just for you. Give yourself over to any activity you love. Run a favorite route, attend extra yoga sessions, or rage on a kickboxing bag. The Mayo Clinic says virtually any kind of exercise can act as a stress reliever thanks to the endorphin boost.
Say no. It’s hard, but it’s liberating to relieve yourself of unnecessary burdens. Baby showers gutted me, so I said no and sent an absentee gift. Say no to any situation that doesn’t absolutely require you to be involved, because it’s ok to pass.
Brandi Koskie is a guest contributor for National Infertility Awareness Week, sharing experience as the founder of the web’s first infertility fundraising site, BabyOrBust.com. She is also the co-founder and content strategist for Clover Partners, an interactive studio in Denver and Oklahoma City.