Handle the Stress of Infertility and Social Isolation
The holidays normally are stressful for people struggling with infertility. The many social occasions and family get-togethers can be warm and supportive, or they can be more like the Spanish Inquisition.
Why haven’t you started your family yet? When do you plan to have a baby? Aren’t you getting on in age? Don’t wait too long!
Yet family and close friends can be a big part of your support network. This year the situation varies in different parts of the country, but many people live in or near cities where large gatherings are prohibited due to the novel coronavirus. Your fertility center may have had to cancel in-person support group meetings. How can you get the support you need, while staying safe and unstressed? Here are some tips.
Agree on Who and What to Tell
It’s most important that you and your partner discuss how much you want to share about your infertility journey, and who you want to share it with. Make sure you are both on the same page before you meet up with family or show up to a Zoom call. You have no obligation to tell your story to anyone. If you do want to share, try putting it in a positive statement in answer to questions. “We’re working on getting pregnant, but I don’t have any news I feel comfortable sharing right now” sets the limits of the conversation.
It’s Okay to Be Selfish
When you’re #TTC your emotions tend to be heightened, and you can overreact to the things people say. Most of them are well-intentioned, but that doesn’t make them hurt any less. If a family gathering or meeting a group of friends feels like a stressful occasion, it’s okay to say no and stay home. Most companies will not have office parties this year, so you probably don’t have to worry about attending those. Know what you can handle, and pick what will make you feel better. Especially during the pandemic, prioritize your own health and safety.
Online support groups let you speak freely with other people who are in the same circumstances. Some fertility centers have moved their in-person support group meetings to Zoom or other video platforms, so you can meet safely and still get emotional support. Many counselors and psychologists now have telemedicine visits, so you can get therapy from the comfort of your own home, on your phone or computer.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Spending time outdoors has been proven to reduce depression. If you live in a warm climate, it’s easy to do outdoor activities like walking on a beach, hiking, and bike riding. If you live in a colder climate, the holidays are a great time to bundle up and go outdoors anyway for a walk or ice skating. In any weather except a snow or ice storm, viewing holiday lights displays are a fun seasonal outing you can do from your car. And the great indoors can be fun, too. In Denmark and Sweden, where the winters are long and dark, they enjoy hygge, a feeling of coziness and contentment from simple activities like reading a book on a snowy day.
Be Nice to You
For both you and your partner, living a healthy lifestyle can make you feel better emotionally as well as physically. Eat healthy meals, do some moderate exercise like long walks in the open air or a yoga video, sleep well, and check in with family members and friends via phone, text or Zoom. You can drink seltzer or mocktails at those Zoom happy hours! Plan holiday movie playlists you can watch together. Did you know you can play board games online with friends and family? Most important, be kind to each other. Remember this, too, shall end.