November 8, 2011

Handling Stress

I recently attended a fertility conference and learned that 40% of women going through repeat fertility care experience some form of depression or anxiety.  I share this so that if you are struggling, you know that you are not alone.

When I went through my own fertility treatment (7 IVF cycles; some fresh, some frozen and lots of pre-IVF work) I was so determined to get pregnant that I ignored the warning signals that my body started to send … advising me to slow it down.  And then I developed severe panic attacks.  The good news is that I started to become more self-aware and started to listen to my body.  When my eye started to twitch, it became my signal to take care of myself – eating right, getting exercise, making sleep a priority, and learning to relax.

Relaxing didn’t come easily to me, but I learned some great relaxation tips from a book called: Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by Reid Wilson.  Perhaps some of these suggestions will help you.

1) Sit quietly, with your eyes closed and take some slow, deep breaths.  Then count backwards from 100, taking a full, long inhale and exhale for each count.  In all it will take about 10 minutes.  And when done, open your eyes and notice how you feel.  I promise you will feel restored and relaxed.

2) Again sit quietly with your eyes closed.  Imagine you are in a place that feels safe and calm.  Perhaps you are gazing out at the ocean, perhaps you are walking hand in hand with a loved one.  Keep this image in your mind.  And as you hold this relaxing image in your head, say to yourself a soothing word.  For me, it was “relax”.  Try practicing this for 5 minutes.  In time, you will be able to pull forth this relaxing image when you are in a stressful situation.

3) Sit quietly in a private room, with your eyes closed.  Breath deeply.  Work on clenching parts of your body, starting with your fists.  Hold them clenched for five breaths and then release.  Do this three times.  Now draw your shoulders up to your ears for 5 breaths.  Release.  Do three times.  Follow this pattern, scrunching up your face, opening your mouth wide, pointing your toes.  Then think up other ways that you can tense the body and release and incorporate that into your practice.  When done, the body will feel less tense … and so will you.

Please share with us how you manage your stress.  We would love to hear from you.  And please let us know if you found any of these tips helpful.

Have a wonderful and relaxing day.


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