Infertility IS stressful. I want to validate that right away. Anyone who says, "just relax" has never experienced the stress of IVF and fertility treatment and frankly doesn't know what they're talking about. Because it is right up there with the most stressful things you can go through in life.
I'm not here to tell you that you can get rid of stress during your IVF.
Because... blood tests, ultrasounds, more blood tests, waiting on results, waiting on appointments, starting a new protocol, injections, pill popping, setting alarms, running around, researching, analysing, finding a new doctor, a new clinic, more waiting, and so much more.
But I am here to share ways you can help ease the magnitude of your stress load. Hopefully, some of them will be useful.
Stress isn't going anywhere but you can do things to help
Number 1: You have a lot on your plate. What can you get rid of? For example, instead of going to the supermarket, order online. Or instead of going out to your yoga class, can you do a class at home?
Number 2: Ask for help. For example, can a friend bring over dinner? Or can a family member come over and help you clean and tidy up your home?
Number 3: Give yourself a screen break. If you're like me and spend hours researching online, disconnect for a little while.
Number 4: Go outside. Walking barefoot on the earth is soothing to your mind and body.
Number 5: To-do lists are good to be organised but they can be overwhelming. Break down what's to come into parts so it looks more manageable.
Number 6: Be proud of how brave and courageous you are.
Number 7: Remember why you are doing what you are doing. Come back to that feeling even if it's just for a few minutes.
Number 8: Love up your partner.
Number 9: Put all your fertility stuff (prescriptions, results, research, etc) in a drawer or basket. Put any treatment in the fridge in a tupperware box. So you know where everything is.
Number 10: Share responsibilities. Get your partner to take on some of the organising, pharmacy pick-ups, etc to lighten your load.
Number 11: Laugh. Comedies, bad jokes, watching your partner do a handstand, anything that will get you laughing.
Number 12: In a moment of intense stress, become aware of it and reassure yourself: It's going to be okay / It's going to pass / I can do this / I am safe.
Number 13: Talk to your stress. Give it a name, recognise it, tell it to pi$$ off, back off, whatever you like.
Number 14: Add in. Adding in practices that bring you peace helps you maintain a grounded baseline to prepare for stress. Doesn't always work I know, but good habits are a plus.
Number 15: Breathe. We often hold our breath or shallow breathe. Take a few mindful breaths several times a day.
Number 16: Observe nature. If your mind is racing, going for a walk and deliberately observing the details (the flowers, the birds, the trees, the sounds, the smells) can help give your mind a rest.
Number 17: Be gentle with yourself. You deserve kindness right now.
Number 18: Do something nice for yourself. Something that gives you a lift. I know you're busy but maybe something like a face mask, your favourite smoothie or a podcast?
Number 19: Cry if you need to. Holding in our emotions can cause even more stress. Letting it out gets the energy moving again.
Number 20: Find your people. Friends, family, a fertility coach who support you and are there for you.
I am fully aware that stress can sometimes reach levels that aren't manageable with these kinds of holistic tips. If that is your case, please reach out to your doctor for help. Stress is real during IVF. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.