Oh, the holiday season - that time of year when many of us feel the financial strain of gift buying, the chaos of holiday crowds, the never-ending family and work events. Holiday cheer to some but holiday drear to many. The increase of stress and frustration during this time of year is overwhelming for anyone, but can be even more immense for fertility patients who are trying to conceive.
Whether you are dealing with reproductive health issues affecting your fertility, or deciding to attempt IVF/ART the decision is a major step and an intense process. When you add the family pressure that the holiday season can provoke on top of it all, the idea of managing your stress levels may seem like an impossible feat, but it is possible!
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is natural. A bit of short lived stress isn’t always a bad thing – it can make you active and alert when you need to be. It can help us find focus and can kick the immune system into healing wounds or fighting off infections.
Stress is our body’s natural response to what we perceive as an imminent threat or potential danger. You may know it as our “flight or fight” response.
Nowadays, our body’s stress response is triggered all the time, everyday, even when we are not in mortal danger. Although our everyday stresses may not kill us, our constant responses to non-immediate stresses can wreak havoc on all the major systems of the body including our Reproductive Health.
When we feel stressed out and our bodies feel 'attacked' it releases two hormones into our blood; Adrenaline & Cortisol. What happens to our reproductive system when there’s too much cortisol present?
When the body enters crisis mode, other functions of the body that are not considered 'relevant' to this time are put on hold - such as getting pregnant. (Basically, the body feels that staying alive is more important than reproducing). Stress can act as a natural contraceptive which is unfavourable when you’re trying to conceive.
Here are some simple, effective and affordable ways you can help ease your stress to get through the holidays, and help your chances of successful conception.
GET YOURSELF SOME ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture is most commonly known to relieve pain but it’s also incredibly effective in relieving stress and anxiety and regulate many of the systems that are directly affected by stress. Acupuncture releases Oxytocin and endorphins that result in an analgesic effect, and activates our “rest and digest” response – the body’s natural ‘yin’ response to the ‘yang’ of our fight or flight mode.
Some other amazing things that acupuncture can do for your body:
FIND MINDFULNESS THROUGH YOGA & MEDITATION
Yoga and meditation are commonplace practices now. It seems that there are yoga studios on every corner, and there are endless meditation retreats and centres to chose from. With so many styles available out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which methods work for you.
Experiment a little, and find a style of yoga and meditation that resonates with you.
Here are some useful tips on choosing the right practice for you, and how effective both practices can be once you've found your groove.
CREATING BOUNDARIES AND SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
We've all come across that idea of just quitting our jobs, and moving to a tropical Paradise for the rest of our lives to live a stress-free life. As lovely, and ideal as that would be, let's face it - for most of us, it's just not probable. Be gentle with yourself while making these changes, and focus on practical solutions that are within your abilities. Make it simple to simplify your life!
Everyone's life experiences are different, and we all deal and manage stress in a variety of ways. Methods that may work for some people might not necessarily work for you. Don't give up! explore a bit to find which approaches resonate with you. Be kind to yourself in the process, focus on doing what is within your limits and is realistic to your pace of life. It may be nearly impossible to eliminate all the stressors in our lives, but with the help of practices that strengthen our body-mind connection, we can change how we handle and react to our challenging life events.