The top ten most helpful coping strategies for thriving, not just surviving, the holiday season as person affected by infertility.
1. Intentionally cultivate trusting, loving relationships. Start with one person you can open up to. Tell them what it is like for you to be infertile during a season when you might feel obligated to be happy.
2. Journal.The power of writing down what upsets you, your dreams, in sum, your feelings, cannot be overstated. Make it fun: go to a bookstore and purchase a beautiful journal. Write, color, draw, cry into it. Consider it a mental spa between two covers.
3. Protect yourself! This is important. Trust your gut! Just because the company holiday party is where most of your coworkers will be on a given evening of the year does not mean you need to attend. If you are not feeling up to it, by all means, go with what you know will be most comforting to you. Remember, infertility is a major life challenge and has been likened to the degree of stress that an oncology patient endures. Be gentle with yourself!
4. Ask for help. Yes, I said it and I know that it rubs against most of our America acculturation, but find someone you trust and ask them to help you, whether that means rides to medical appointments, phone calls in the middle of the night, emails, or having dinner together.
5. Create. Even if your body is (temporarily, most likely) unable to gestate at this time, try your hand at growing or creating something.
6. Consider soothing modalities such as a massage–yes, you deserve it! You’re in the sisterhood of us peeps who have gone through infertility—aroma therapy or even light therapy.
7. Eat a little—I said little, meaning less than one ounce—of dark chocolate per day. Not only will it increase your serotonin levels resulting in mood enhancement, but it’s not harmful to a pregnancy like alcohol and it’s great for heart health.
8. Moderate lean protein is helpful for many patients affected by infertility especially PCOS patients. Try new, zesty sources like some of the new preparations of seasoned nuts (a palmful only per day or per your health provider’s recommendation), hummus or even tofu.
9. Take a walk with someone you love. Challenge each other to forgo talking fertility during your time together, and instead tell that person how precious s/he is and how much you love your presence in your life.
10. Above all, consider counseling if you feel overwhelmed or even just to pick up helpful hints about how to deal with stress. There are many excellent mental health professionals that specialize in helping those affected by infertility. It almost goes without saying that, should you feel depressed to the point where you cannot function normally or are considering harming yourself or others, you need to obtain emergency mental health services. You can also call 911.
Infertility is difficult for most of us. Don’t just get through this season—thrive!