During the holidays, you can start to feel as if your life is spinning out of your control. I can honestly say that feeling overwhelmed by stress during holidays is not good for you — whether you are trying to conceive and/or undergoing fertility treatment — or even if you are not.
During this time of year, my patients often tell me, "I feel like I no longer have any controlover my life or my fertility treatments. Things are just done to me." They also ask how to handle the stress of family gatherings and the inevitable questions from friends and relatives about their fertility status.
Here is what I tell them. The best way to handle stress is to regain control — over your eating, your sleeping, your finances … everything. Basically, take control of your life during the holidays and into the New Year. How? Here are seven ways:
- You do not have to do everything and be everywhere. For example, if the annual Christmas Eve dinner will make you feel anxious or depressed because all of your cousins have kids at the children’s table, then choose to bow out. If you feel you must go, then limit your time at the event and leave when you want to.
- The house, the decorating, the presents, etc., do not have to be perfect. Give yourself a break and stop trying to live up to all the Pinterest images.
- Talk to your partner. Be on the same page about how you want to handle the holidays. Don’t hide your feelings — support each other and compromise.
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Dancing the night away seems like fun until the next morning. Sleep is an incredibly important part of staying healthy and controlling stress. Also, if you aren’t getting enough rest, you are more likely to overeat.
- Don’t overeat just because it’s the holidays. Research has demonstrated the adverseeffects of obesity on fertility and pregnancy outcomes, not to mention overall health.
- Take time for you. Exercise, yoga, acupuncture, massage and meditation are all good ways to relax and improve overall well-being.
- Take time to do something for others. Remember, there are always others less fortunate than you. Try volunteering at a homeless shelter or visiting the elderly in a nursing home. There are many non-profits that need volunteers. Helping others will change you for the better.
I have found that in my practice, the patients who are in optimal health and best able to manage the stresses of life and infertility have better success with treatment because they are able to persist during a difficult journey. They also recognize that others cannot improve their physical and mental health — it is something they must do for themselves.
So, my message for the holidays is to take control, so you can feel better about yourself, your partner and your life in general. Doing so will improve your chances of getting pregnant with my assistance if needed.