Coping with Infertility and the Holidays- Tips on How to Make it Through
For many the holidays are magical. There’s laughter, memories, family, parties and all other things in between. But if you’re dealing with infertility all those “things” can feel daunting and overwhelming.
Thinking back to the first holiday you spent without a loved one, I can relate. I remember those feelings and how emotions ran strong and feelings of sadness and despair surfaced more readily than normal. Sometimes even the littlest tradition or song triggers feelings you thought you had under control. Unwrapping a special Christmas ornament or getting another invitation to a party. All so challenging. Don’t forget no one else really knows what you’re going through. Infertility is personal and unique. Your feelings are justified, and you should never feel shame or guilt. No one really knows where you’ve been or where you’re going next. Keep that in mind and give yourself permission to just be. Whatever you’re feeling right now, keep reading because there are ways you can and will move forward. Emotionally you may feel as if you’re struggling but there are ways you can still believe in the magic of the season.
1. Be Selective with your RSVPS
Is your inbox overflowing with invitations? Chances are you’ve been invited to family parties, work related functions and other social events. You don’t have to RSVP yes to all or any of t0ese for that matter. When contemplating whether or not you’ll attend a get-together, ask yourself a few questions to sort out your concerns-
How are you feeling emotionally?
Have you opened up and are comfortable being around others who know about your journey?
Are you worried about the questions you may be asked?
If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, then maybe it’s time to focus on yourself. Take a break from being around others in a social atmosphere. These feelings probably won’t last forever, but for the time being and with the holidays, prioritize you. You don’t need added stress.
Be honest with yourself and know it’s ok to say “no.” Your friends, family and coworkers, if they know you and care about you (which I’m sure they do) they’ll understand. Instead of attending, maybe send a gift or volunteer to help set up. There’s no need to put yourself in a position where you’re emotionally and physically uncomfortable. After all, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the party? Be selective and surround yourself only with those you are comfortable with and offer unconditional support.
2. Focus on Self-Care
Taking care of yourself is essential and now that the holidays are in full swing, it’s even more important to give yourself a little tender loving care. Schedule some “me” time. You can do this by booking a massage, taking a yoga class or even practicing some quiet meditation. Simple things like eating healthy and wholesome meals, planning a movie night or checking in with your partner or loved ones are also ways to support yourself and improve your mental well-being.
If you’ve been dealing with infertility for a while or are new to the process you know how much of an impact it has on your mental health. Mental health is important for your everyday function. It helps you make choices, and connects your thoughts, emotions and actions. When dealing with a challenge such as infertility your mental well-being is the first to suffer. But with the right support, guidance and tools you’ll be able to take on a new perspective and begin to heal.
Here are some tips you can do right now to improve your mental well-being:
Journal and Identify with Your Feelings – It’s ok to feel sad, anxious or depressed. Journaling not only provides an outlet but it helps (literally) get your feelings off your chest. Sometimes just the act of journaling serves as a release of the emotions you keeping inside
Set Realistic Goals – The holidays are such a crazy time of year so don’t be so hard on yourself. Make a plan as to when you’ll shop, wrap or even spend quality time with your partner. Don’t worry if you can’t make those parties. Take things one day at a time. And above all remember, there is no such thing as perfection. You don’t have to get the “perfect” gift. Give yourself a break and keep things simple.
Schedule “Me” Time- The time you spend on yourself, especially when going through infertility is so important. You need to give your mind and body a break. If you’ve got a lot coming up, make sure to carve out some time just for you. Spend time doing your favorite activities. Practice mindfulness and meditation. All it takes is a quick 10- 15 minute meditation session a day to reset and refocus. Whatever you choose, make it about you.
3. Make New Traditions
Just because you’ve done something all your life doesn’t mean you can’t change. There are many people who’ve grown up with the same tradition of heading to a Christmass tree lot, cutting down the “perfect” (remember there’s no such thing as perfect) tree and then spending the day trimming and decking the halls. But now that you’re older and have a partner and life of your own it may be time for a change. Christmas traditions could trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress. They could remind you of what you don’t have. So instead focus on what you love, what you have and what you’d like to carry on.
Maybe you decide to spend your holiday giving back to a particular charity. That definitely symbolizes the holiday spirit. After all, it is the season of giving. Or maybe your tradition is exploring a new town with your partner creating memories that’ll last a lifetime. Traditions are something you do year in and year out. There are no rules when making traditions, just meaning. Make this year the year you create something new, something meaningful and something that reflects your life, love and what makes you happy.
4. The True Meaning
Remember the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays. The true meaning focuses on love and support. There’s more to it than buying gifts and attending parties. The season is about kindness, caring and believing. Believing in togetherness and the power of someone’s love and support. Make a promise to yourself this season and always that you’ll focus on you, your partner and the process of healing. Reaching out to loved ones, therapists you trust and communities that understand where you’ve been. There’s always a path towards healing.