1.Meditation: Whether this involves guided visualization, yoga, or sitting in a dark room with essential oils diffusing, research shows meditation has many benefits, from improved concentration, cardiovascular and immune health, to increased happiness, self-awareness and acceptance. It seems meditation has benefits for all of us, not just for those struggling with infertility. For starters, try this simple meditation practice from GAIAM.
2.Stay Active: Join a gym, start going on daily walks during lunch or short hikes after work, or watch (and follow along) workout videos from the comfort of your home. Yoga was mentioned many times and personally, it has helped me tremendously with mindset throughout my infertility journey thus far. Barre is also another favorite of mine. The great thing about staying active in the 21st century is that there is a gym or a class for every interest you can imagine, from rock climbing to belly dancing, and goat yoga to acrobatics…there is certainly something out there for you!
3.Work towards a goal: Is there a house project you’ve been wanting to tackle, a work goal, or personal goal like weight loss or dietary changes, or journaling daily? Several women reported that working towards a goal had a dual purpose; it kept their mind busy and off the subject of infertility and it helped them achieve something they’d been struggling to initiate in the past. What goal have you been trying to achieve or haven’t even started yet?
4.Self-care: This is a big one and it can mean different things to different people. For me, self-care encompasses everything from staying active and eating right, to getting my nails done and facials bi-monthly (I don’t mean twice a month!) and the occasional fancy coffee, which just means buying a coffee rather than making it at home. What does self-care mean to you? If you don’t know, maybe that is a good place to start. Figure out what relaxes you or makes you feel good, body, mind, and soul. What brings you joy?
5.Retail therapy: Okay, ladies…who doesn’t love the occasional retail therapy? If you’re sitting there thinking, “I hate going to the mall” or “I hate shopping”, let me remind you that retail therapy comes in so many forms these days. It can include going to the mall with friends, or for me, going to my favorite stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, maybe even Home Goods by myself sometimes (yes, I said it!) with that delicious fancy coffee I mentioned above. It also includes sitting on your couch, in your pjs, with a big glass of wine, browsing through your favorite online shopping site, like Amazon or Nordstrom. No holds bar here, ladies!
6.Faith: Many women reported their trust in God, prayer, and Bible study as comforting and helpful in maintaining a positive mindset and overall well-being. Infertility is a challenging obstacle that does not affect everyone, so it can often make you feel alone. Women reported keeping their faith helped them through the difficult phases of infertility because they know God is always there for them even when they feel alone.
7.Journaling: According to the American Psychological Association, writing down your thoughts and feelings with no inhibitions or fear of judgement can be therapeutic in that it reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep. During the infertility process, anxiety is at an all time high. There is often a hurry up and wait mentality with fertility treatments and the “wait period(s)” can be debilitating. By journaling, one woman stated, “you can write down your thoughts and insecurities, releasing them from your psyche,” thus allowing yourself to be freed from all the worry and focus on whatever the day brings you (be it work, parenting, etc.).
8.Teach yourself a new hobby: This is similar to working towards a goal, if you have a goal of trying something new, taking a cooking class, or trying a new workout or gym program. Teaching yourself a hobby relieves stress, promotes happiness, gives a confidence boost, and provides a social outlet, according to Dr. Kurt Smith, a Huffpost contributor and clinical director of a counseling and coaching practice in Northern California. The social outlet may be beneficial in various ways, in that you may meet new people who want to talk about things other than infertility which will get your mind off of your experience. You may also meet people also experiencing infertility, which can provide you with a larger support system and someone to chat with about your highs and lows while participating in a novel and enjoyable activity.
9.Quality time with your pet/animals: Several women reported spending time cuddling with their cat or dog helped them navigate through the trials and tribulations of infertility. According to animal expert Arden Moore, spending time around animals lowers blood pressure, can improve nutrition, restores mental energy, rejuvenates and relaxes us. The good things is you do not need to go out and buy a pet to experience these benefits. Spend time volunteering at an animal shelter, go bird watching, or take your neighbors dog for a walk. The benefits don’t change based on whose animal you are spending time with.
10.Travel: This is another personal strategy for maintaining a positive mindset, but a few women in my group mentioned travel as well. Let’s clear something up before we dive into this one; travel does not have to mean booking a flight out of the country to an expensive destination at a 5-star resort and completing disbursing all your savings for fertility treatments. Simply put, you can hop in your car or on your bike and explore a new park nearby. You could drive an hour or two to a new restaurant or small town and walk around exploring without any specific destination or time constraints. You can also, of course, take that expensive trip half way across the world if it happens to be in budget. When you visit a new place, you have the opportunity to meet new people, broaden your horizons, try new things, reflect on life and possibly shift your perspective, and often come home feeling like a new person (depending on the type of travel that is). It’s like starting over, which is often what those of us walking through infertility are craving!
Are you struggling to maintain a positive outlook while navigating through this season of life? What are some strategies you use to get back on track?