Trying to get pregnant… being pregnant… not being pregnant… there is nothing NOT stressful about any situation throughout your fertility trek. It’s on your mind most of the time, and it is causing a lot of overwhelm and anxiety.
And one of the most common phrases you hear from people when you tell them about your fertility frustrations?
“Just relax… it’ll happen.”
I know, I know… hearing that a million times kinda makes you want to punch a brick wall *ouch* but there IS some validity to this well-intentioned (yet slightly insensitive) platitude.
Stress is fertility’s worst enemy. It wreaks havoc on our digestion, hormones, mental health, and let’s be honest… our sex lives. And to conceive and carry a healthy baby, it’s important that we control our stress to the best of our ability to keep those things in check.
I say “to the best of our ability” because I 100% get it that some things that produce stress are out of our control. BUT there is a lot of control we do have when it comes to managing stress, like incorporating any (or all, you overachiever ;)) of these stress management techniques!
Ditch the anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. You deserve a clear mind and quality time to care for yourself. YOU are the most important part of this fertility equation, so take care of YOU.
8 WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS, ANXIETY, AND OVERWHELM
Ahhh… the ultimate relaxation. Cozy up with a book in a bath, add some epsom salts to detox that stress away, throw on some acoustic tunes, and just relax.
Baths help loosen up your muscles (physically MAKING you feel more relaxed), and if you add some essential oils (like lavender), you’ll feel calmer in no time. I recommend doing this before bed because it makes some people (*me*) wicked tired and in turn rewards me with a great night’s sleep!
2. Get Grounded (walking barefoot, gardening, etc.)
There’s a reason why kids run around barefoot without a care in the world- it detoxes our bodies and makes us happier. “Grounding” or “earthing” is the practice of touching the earth with bare hands or bare feet, and the negative ions in the earth pair with and discharge the free radicals in our body. Detoxing helps ease the toxic burden on your body.
And as for making you happier? This is just from the “book of Christine science,” but it’s really hard to be upset when your walking around barefoot outside. And ask anyone who gardens- it relaxes them.
3. Sweat it out- Yoga or Exercising
Exercising… it’s a love/hate relationship with most people. BUT when you find a type of exercise you love, it can immediately relieve stress. I felt it the most back in my kickboxing days… if I was feeling upset? I’d go punch a stationary bag with some gloves on. Highly recommend it. 😉 I’ve heard running can help relieve stress, too, but I personally haven’t experienced that one yet. #someday
Yoga, however, is a different story. Almost anyone who does yoga can experience stress and anxiety relief. Yoga is focused on deep breathing, which helps the parasympathetic system kick-in and calms down our bodies.
Also–exercise and endorphins, right? “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” -Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
Get outside and go for a walk/jog. Go find a yoga or a pilates class. Go punch a bag! Whatever you do, go work up a sweat and release those toxins and stresses.
4. Deep Breathing or Meditation
This one is so easy. Just sit there, close your eyes, and fill up your lungs to capacity. Then exhale all the air out. Rinse and repeat for 5 minutes. When you breathe deeply, your brain gets the message that it’s time to relax. You could be on a beach in Hawaii for all your brain knows- it doesn’t care.
Let me say that one more time: when you breathe deeply, it tells your brain that it’s time to relax. Your brain then gives the signal to the rest of your body. Stress reduced, tension relieved, mission accomplished.
5. Massage or Acupuncture
If you’ve got the funds, I highly encourage you to get a semi-regular massage or acupuncture session on the books. These folks know what they’re doing. Both are a great way to detox the body and ease your bod’s toxic burden, but both also require you to be still and lay down for an extended period of time. Both are wins in my book. When have you walked away from a massage and not felt lighter than air?
6. Talk it out (find a support system, vent, laugh, cry)
Bottling up your emotions and frustrations never does you any good. There’s a reason therapy is a profession, because it helps. If you can’t afford/don’t feel comfortable seeing a therapist, then make sure you have some sort of supportive group of people around you. Friends, family, your neighbor, your dog. Have someone you can vent to, laugh with, cry with, bounce ideas off of.
It always helps to get another perspective, and it helps to know someone is listening and cares about you and what you’re dealing with. I know when I talk it out with someone, my stress levels go wayyyyy down. Just to get it out there and not have it constantly swirling in my mind. Can you relate?
7. Write it out (journaling/gratitude journal)
The fastest way to relieve stress (in my humble opinion) is to write out things that you’re grateful for. It puts your life in perspective. We have SO much to be grateful for at any. time. in. our. lives. Writing down what you’re grateful for in a little gratitude journal daily can help keep you present, mindful, and calm.
Writing out your thoughts in general is also helpful with relieving stress and anxiety. Similar to the “talk it out” method, writing down your thoughts keeps you from going over them again and again and again in your head… which is a major contributor to anxiety.
Spend a few minutes everyday to write what’s on your mind, what you’re going to do about it (if anything), what you’re grateful for. You’ll feel glad you did and it doesn’t take a lot of time or resources!
8. Take your mind off of it
This is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress because I get to be active in DOING something. It feels like I have more control over my situation (even if I don’t) because I get to move forward and better myself with something.
And no, I don’t mean you should take your mind off of it by watching 10 episodes of Grey’s on Netflix. I mean do something productive.
–Find a new hobby, like knitting, coloring, gardening, pottery, archery, or bird-watching. You literally have thousands of options here.
-Learn a new language! Duolingo is a great language app and I’m currently learning Spanish AND French because why not?
-Learn an instrument! Remember when you’d fight your parents when they’d tell you to practice the piano, and now you wish you could turn back time? Not too late, friend.
-READ. Reading is a great way to take your mind off of it. Your imagination can take you to a new world, and you’re not watching Netflix. Win-win. Go get yourself a shiny new library card.
That’s it, friend…the world is now your stress-free oyster. See if you can incorporate one of those tips a few times a week, and before you know it you’ll be as zen as a monk.
And I know it’s one thing to say that these things work and you should do them, but it’s another to challenge you to actually do this.
Here’s an idea we should all to try out. The next time our immediate reaction is stress or frustration, let’s try to use that “stress trigger” as a “relaxation trigger” instead. Next time someone says something you don’t love, take a really deep breath (or 8 deep breaths). Frustrating day? Write in your journal. Not sure how you’re feeling? Go for a walk.
The sooner we replace our typical stress reactions (like overwhelm and anxiety and frustration and hanger) with these relaxation tips, the sooner our bodies will thank us.
Founder, Real Food Fertility