By Takera Mitchell, RN, BSN, Fertility Coach
Trying to conceive (TTC) and dealing with fertility challenges can be a stressful and emotionally taxing journey for many couples and individuals. The pressure to conceive can often lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. These can negatively affect your emotional and physical well-being and ultimately impact your fertility. Therefore, it’s essential to take a break, relax, and reset on your fertility journey. Here are 5 ways to help you do just that.
1. Practice mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are excellent relaxation techniques that can help you manage stress, anxiety, and your overall mental health. Take a few minutes every day to sit in a quiet place, focus on your breathing, and let go of your worries.
Stress may not cause fertility challenges, but it may interfere with the ability to get pregnant. For example, women with a history of depression may be twice as likely to experience fertility challenges, while anxiety may prolong the time needed to conceive.
Spending time on mindfulness and meditation can help you cultivate a sense of calmness and inner peace, which can improve your emotional well-being and reduce stress levels. Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and creative activities, also helps. Taking time to prioritize your emotional health and overall well-being is crucial when dealing with fertility struggles.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is an effective way to reduce stress and improve overall health. Try engaging in low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, or cycling to reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Exercising regularly can also improve blood flow to your reproductive organs, which may enhance your fertility.
To make things more fun, consider asking a friend to join you on a walk! This is a good way to get moving and socialize to support your overall well-being. Being outdoors in the fresh air and sun can boost your feelings (and also serve as an extra stress reducer).
The added benefits of regular exercise can also support a healthy BMI (body mass index). BMI can affect your ability to ovulate, conceive, or carry a pregnancy to term. Specifically, excessive or very low body fat can affect ovulation and fertility.
The benefits of regular exercise when trying to conceive can have a positive impact, both physically and emotionally. The spring and summer months are a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, and you can get creative with fun physical activities in the cooler seasons to keep you moving.
3. Connect with support groups
Joining a support group can help you connect with other people going through similar experiences. Sharing your journey with others who understand what you’re going through can help you feel less alone. Support groups can also provide valuable information, resources, and coping strategies that can help you manage stress and improve your well-being.
The roller coaster of emotions, from the anticipation of ovulation to the 2-week wait, can be emotionally draining. Joining a support group can be helpful when you’re experiencing fertility issues or undergoing fertility testing and treatments. Support groups can provide a space for you to share your experiences and learn from others.
You can also use a support group for financial guidance related to fertility treatment to help navigate costs and financial resources that may be available to you. The financial strains of fertility treatment can be a challenge; having someone to provide you with tools and tips can make things seem less stressful.
Some support groups offer a buddy, someone who has a similar fertility journey as you. While everyone’s journey is different, being able to share your experience in a non-judgmental environment with someone who can personally relate may be comforting. Knowing that someone’s experience is similar to yours may make you feel more open to sharing.
It’s essential to seek emotional support, whether that’s through a support group, or by connecting with trusted family members and best friends. If you need additional support, seek the help of a professional, like a fertility coach or mental health specialist.
Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing fertility struggles, it’s essential to also seek help from a healthcare provider, ideally a fertility specialist (or reproductive endocrinologist). A fertility specialist can perform fertility testing and provide recommendations on the best course of treatment, including options like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
4. Get adequate sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for your physical and emotional well-being. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help you recharge and rejuvenate. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, mood swings, and reduced fertility, so it’s essential to prioritize sleep as part of your self-care routine.
Try adding in a night-time routine that helps you prepare for quality sleep. This may include warm tea, relaxing music, aromatherapy candles, a warm shower or bath, and unplugging from electronics one hour before your bedtime. Designate your bedroom for sleep and try not to do other activities there. This can guide the mental preparation for sleep.
Before going to sleep, review your calendar for the next day and clear your mind of lingering thoughts from the current day that may interrupt your sleep. Avoid foods that may create indigestion, heartburn, or other discomforts during sleep. The goal is to get a sound sleep so that you are rejuvenated when you wake up. Planning your bedtime can help you prioritize your day.
Sleep allows your body and mind to rebuild and prepare for work. This includes work that may be physical or emotional. When you are well rested, it can support you in being your best self in your daily life, and along your fertility journey.
5. Engage in creative activities
Engaging in creative activities such as painting, writing, or playing music can help you relax and reduce stress levels. Creative activities can also help you express your emotions and process any negative thoughts and feelings. Finding a creative outlet can provide a much-needed break from the stress of trying to conceive and help you re-set emotionally.
Trying to conceive can be a challenging journey that requires patience, resilience, and self-care. Taking time to relax and reset can help you manage stress, improve your emotional well-being, and ultimately enhance your fertility. By incorporating these 5 techniques into your routine, you will hopefully feel more empowered and supported on your fertility journey.