Are you feeling stress about your fertility, or just your life overall? Have you felt stressed or overwhelmed by your life in the past? If so, you are so not alone. There are so many of us in this boat with you, including myself! I’m going to share with you 4 tips and strategies for managing when you’re feeling fertility-related stress, or just stress in your everyday life.
We live in a very stressful world. Modern society is a stressful place, it’s a busy place, it’s an overwhelming place. It is not quiet and serene a lot of the time. Unfortunately, that is not going to change. If anything, modern life is going to become more busy, more crazy, more stressful, more overwhelming.
That is why it is so important to develop tools to help you navigate through when you’re finding yourself in that very stressed and overwhelmed place.
We all have jobs, which are very demanding, we have family members that need to be cared for, parents, maybe elderly parents that are sick and need to be taken care of. We all have a lot of demands placed on us. If you’re on a fertility journey, it’s even more so. This journey is so overwhelming. I personally believe that anything medical is really overwhelming, and fertility especially because it’s so emotionally charged.
When we’re on a fertility journey, the stress is magnified. Stress about fertility is agonizing. We find ourselves in a place where we just never really dreamed that we would ever be or never even wanted to be. Nobody wants to be the one who struggles to get pregnant and have a child. It’s very emotional. Then, just dealing with the doctors and all the appointments and the medications and all the things you have to keep track of. It can be extremely overwhelming and really difficult to navigate on top of everything else happening in your life.
These days, we have so many options for building our families, that we didn’t have just 35 years ago. It’s wonderful that we have IVF, donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, surrogacy, adoption, and so on. However, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and really add to the overwhelm that we’re already experiencing on this journey and in our life.
It’s really important to develop the tools to help us manage these times of overwhelm. Here are my 4 tips and strategies for managing your overwhelm.
SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE
The first of those is to slow down and breathe. I guess that’s really kind of two strategies, but I’m combining them into one. Slow down and breathe. This is amazing for dealing with fertility stress.
When we’re overwhelmed, our natural inclination as humans is to go faster. Our natural inclination is to go faster because we feel like we’ve just got to rush to get everything done.
That actually counters what is an optimal response. Ideally, we want to slow down because that helps us get everything done kind of in a more effective way. We want to slow down and we want to breathe. Breathing helps us to slow down. It’s no coincidence that breathing and focusing on our breath is the cornerstone of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness work.
All of those practices really focus on the breath and centering our breath, and focusing on our breath and really tuning into our breath because that helps us to slow down, it helps us to go inward, it helps us to act in a more purposeful and mindful way, which is optimal for helping us navigate a stressful or overwhelming situation.
On a fertility journey, this is also extremely important because we do often feel like time is running out. Time is of the essence. We’re very conscious of time when we’re on this journey.
On a fertility journey, it’s so important to just slow down and take the time that we need to look at options, to evaluate options, to make decisions, to act purposefully, mindfully and with intention. Slowing down and not being hasty and not rushing into major decisions or major procedures, it’s really important to just take the time that we need, especially when so much is at stake.
In even the smaller things like I’ve got 10 errands to run today and only three hours to do it all in, slowing down and acting purposefully will really help us in kind of managing our own emotions around everything that’s going on in our lives. Slowing down and really breathing and going inward is, first and foremost, a really important strategy for managing stress and overwhelm.
GET HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT, FOR ANYTHING
Strategy number two is to get help where you need it. This is something that I did not do when I was feeling fertility stress, and I sure wish I had. If I was doing my journey over again, I would be better at getting at help.
Getting help can be two-fold. First, it could be getting therapy or seeking out a support group or talking to a counselor, that is one way to get help, and that is certainly something that is important and can really help us in any time that we’re feeling overwhelmed and in any important, major life journey.
It could also be sort of the mundane things like your household chores, like cleaning or laundry. When you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m on a tight deadline at work and I’ve got so much happening that I need to do for this important project. I’m going to be working late every night this week. I am just not going to have time to like do my laundry or clean my house or shop for groceries or cook.”
Those are all things you can outsource. Have someone come and do your yard work and cut your grass. Outsource your cleaning. Get your groceries from Peapod or Uber Eats. That way you’re not feeling like you have to do everything all the time and the onus is not on you all the time to do every single little thing.
Outsource, outsource, outsource. This is where I am in my life right now. I’m feeling so overwhelmed by things that I am just releasing myself of responsibility to do my yard work and my cleaning. It was kind of hard to let go of those things in the beginning but in today’s world, we all have so much to do, and it’s okay to outsource the things that aren’t of the most critical importance to us at any given time.
To help lessen your fertility-related stress, it’s really important to seek out help. Look, find groups, find other women who are going through what you are going through, and lean on them, and they will give you the support that you need to help you in this very, very important journey. Tip number two is to seek help, either of the clinical support variety or of the just general getting stuff done in every day life variety.
GIVE YOURSELF WHAT YOU NEED
Tip number three, and this relates to getting help, is give yourself what you need. You can do this as you’re breathing and slowing down. This involves tuning in to yourself and really going inward. Go inward and really identify what it is that you need.
If you feel like you need something other than what you’re getting, give yourself permission to get what you need.
Take a rest if you need to rest. Slow down if you need to. If you need to skip an obligation, give yourself the permission to skip that.
On your fertility journey, you’re always doing, doing, doing, we want to do everything we can to maximize our chances of getting pregnant. I had a client who has been very dedicated to doing acupuncture, and one day, she had an acupuncture appointment and she just was like, “I can’t go. I just can’t go. Is it going to be bad if I don’t go? Am I going … Is it going to screw up my cycle this month if I just stay home because I’m too tired to go to my acupuncture appointment?” In the grand scheme of your journey through fertility or through your life, missing one acupuncture appointment is not going to like break your world.
This is so important; we as women often don’t give ourselves the permission to give ourselves what we need. Giving ourselves that permission is so important. You can really keep your fertility stress in check when you give yourself permission to get what you need.
HANG ON AND KEEP GOING
It’s really important to remember when we’re feeling fertility stress, when it can just feel like the end of the world, that things happen in fits and starts. Life ebbs and flows, things are cyclical, there are peaks and valleys. When we’re down in the valleys, it’s hard to remember that, and we can feel stuck. But remember that you will hit the peaks again, and just hang on and keep going.
Giving ourselves what we need, taking time out, taking rest, seeking help, outsourcing, those are all ways to help us navigate our way through the valleys and being gentle with ourselves to navigate through the valleys to help us get back up to those peak times, which we know are going to come again.
Lots of things in life are cyclical, just, for example, in nature, the moon cycle. We have the full moon, which is the time of really increased energy, and then after the full moon, on the way to the new moon, things kind of taper off and they’re not as energetic for a period of time. Our menstrual cycle is the same way. We start our menstrual cycle, we gear up for ovulation, the high energy surrounding ovulation, and then the luteal phase between ovulation and our next period is a time of tapering back and a time that we’re more gentle with ourselves.
It’s the same in this cyclical nature of feeling overwhelmed and feeling stressed, and then feeling like things are more on an even keel. Having the tools to help us through those really stressful times will help us get through, so that when we’re back in the peaks, we’re able to get there and feel good.
Just hang on. Things will change. You’re not going to be in this place forever. Use the tools that you have at your disposal to help you get through and to help you hang on.
To recap, when you’re in those stuck, stressed, overwhelmed places, first tip is to just slow down, take your time, and breathe. Always come back to the breathing. Tip number two, get help and outsource the things that you can. That way you can focus on what’s truly your biggest priority at that time. Tip number three, give yourself the permission to give yourself what you need at any given time. Finally, strategy number four, just hang on because things are going to change in time.
I would love to hear how you are managing your life when it gets very stressed and overwhelming. What tools are you using on your fertility journey to help you manage the stress and overwhelm? How does that help you on your journey? Comment below!