07 Dec Celebrate a Peaceful Holiday Season
It can be tough when a fertility treatment cycle happens to span the holiday season. This is a beautiful but tricky time of year for anyone with an infertility diagnosis, but the rigorous schedule and stress around family, gifting, events, etc., can increase anxiety levels.
Instead, we’d like patients to focus on these 7 tips for a peaceful holiday season to help support you before, during, and after fertility treatments.
1. Clear the calendar of anything that doesn’t bring you joy
Ready to try something new? How about respecting your holiday season calendar engagements with the same level of respect Mari Kondo has for decluttering people’s homes and work spaces.
If the gathering, event, or activity doesn’t bring you joy, skip it. Any entry you see that brings a sense of fear, anxiety, stress, or dread should be erased altogether. In addition to giving you more opportunities to slow down, get the rest you need, and unwind – this practice is an essential part of your selfcare routine.
Awareness around who and what brings you joy supports mental and emotional wellbeing. Anyone who truly cares about you will absolutely respect your feelings.
2. Prioritize your sleep schedule
Sleep is also essential to wellbeing. In addition to its restorative health benefits, getting regular, adequate sleep (seven to nine hours per night) is linked to improved immune system function and hormone balance.
As you can imagine, hormone balance is essential to a functioning reproductive system, so in addition to helping you feel more calm and rested, your healthy sleep habits also support your fertility journey. And, hey! If you have a hard time setting forth the boundaries we listed in #1, you can use an early bedtime to escape attending a function you’re not up for!
3. Enjoy a relaxing Holiday “Happy Hour” with delicious mocktails
Trying to get pregnancy and being pregnant doesn’t mean having to skip out on happy hour, it just means it’s time to become a mocktail mixologist.
Visit Spruce Eat’s list of 12 Christmas Mocktail Recipes and work them into your happy hour rotation. If you are attending or hosting a family gathering this year, we assure you that you won’t be the only one who appreciates these beautiful and delicious alcohol-free drinks. And, we suspect the placebo effect of getting to participate in the happy hour ritual will help you unwind just the same.
4. Schedule a pregnancy massage and/or acupuncture session
We highly recommend finding a licensed massage and/or acupuncture practitioner that specializes in pregnancy/fertility health. Even our own Dr. Christopher D. Williams has been actively involved in research and was a co-investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant assessing the influence of acupuncture on menstrual cycles in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and fertility treatments.
Both massage and acupuncture have been shown to have a positive effect on hormone balance, and correctly-timed acupuncture seems to support higher IVF success rates. These are win-wins for any woman who hopes to get pregnant and is looking for a way to feel more relaxed and peaceful over the holidays.
5. Ask for the support you need
This is actually a practice that will serve you well for your entire life. Asking for what you need is not selfish, it’s wise. It also gives others a chance to be generous with their time, abilities, and energy. Asking for what you need will also help you weather the storm of the postpartum and early parenthood stages, when meals, laundry help, errand running, etc., can feel like lifelines.
- Are you lacking the right circles to hold you emotionally as you go through the holidays? Look for fertility support in your area, or ask for referrals from your fertility specialist.
- Do you need support shopping for gifts or picking them out to keep you out of the hustle and bustle? A designated shopper friend will be happy to pick up the slack.
- Need a little meal support to help you through a rough patch? Friends and family will be happy to help.
- Need a cup of tea and an active listening shoulder to cry on? Call the friend who is best at listening without judgement or giving unsolicited “fixing” advice.
Just remember, nobody reads minds, and your partner, family and friends are busy this time of year as well. If you don’t make specific requests, they may never realize you need the support.
6. Download a mindfulness app
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can feel overwhelming, and it’s hard to not get swept away by all of the “must dos” and traditions. To balance the hectic pace, we recommend downloading a mindfulness app that will help you slow down, focus on your breath, and find stability and peacefulness in the present moment.
7. Try to spend a little time outdoors each day
The Scandinavians have a wonderful outlook about weather; “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” With the right outerwear, virtually any day is a good day to be outside. Take this motto to heart and try to get outside for at least 15 to 30 minutes per day or more.
Even if it’s as simple as staring at the canopy (or the interesting structure) of a nearby tree while inhaling and exhaling deeply or taking a few moments to appreciate the stars and moon before heading to bed. Better yet, use daily outdoor time to get some exercise (with your physician’s approval, of course) for even more stress-relieving benefits.
You deserve to unwind, de-stress, and enjoy a peaceful holiday season, and the team at Virginia Fertility & IVF wishes you all of that and more. Visit our post, Relaxation Tips During Fertility Treatments, for more recommendations.