For women struggling with infertility, stress becomes an almost constant way of life. Every little twinge is another question: is this the month? Could it be a pregnancy? Many women find themselves worrying over every little thing, wondering if this mistake–this too-hard workout; this ride on a roller coaster; this slip and fall–could be the one that prevents them from having a baby this month. Meanwhile, well-meaning friends and relatives insist that if these women could simply relax, a baby would be sure to happen.
Stress and tension don’t cause infertility. Infertility, however, can send stress and tension levels soaring through the roof. Not only do they not help anything, they can make the process more difficult for women who already feel as though they are waiting in limbo for the moment when they’ll finally be able to call themselves mothers. If you’re struggling through the journey of infertility, there’s no cure-all for the stress you’re facing, but there are several tactics that can reduce it and make it easier to live with.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a deliberate style of relaxation that encourages relaxing every muscle in the body and letting tension slide away. Starting with your toes, you deliberately tighten each muscle, then release them as you allow tension to flow away. This is a great technique when your thoughts are keeping you up at night, making it impossible for you to simply relax and sleep no matter how much you know you need the rest.
Meditation evokes the image of sitting around in strange, uncomfortable positions while you imagine the outcome you want or take yourself to a “happy place.” If traditional meditation seems a little uncomfortable, try sitting in a comfortable location or even lying down. Relax your body and your mind. Then, imagine something that brings you peace. For some people, it’s a particular time or location: a lake at sunset, the beach at dawn, a walk in the woods. For others, it’s a particular action or company.
Many religious individuals also find that prayer is a focused form of meditation that allows them to fully acknowledge the deepest desires of their hearts–in this case, motherhood. When the weight of hope and failed attempts becomes overwhelming, it can be soothing to retreat in prayer as you deal with your shattered expectations and continuing dreams.
Sometimes, you need to take care of tension and stress quickly, in the moment. Deep breathing is an excellent way to do exactly that. Place your hand on your stomach and make an effort to draw in a deep breath. Fill your lungs completely. As you release your breath, release that inner tension along with it. It’s not a cure-all, but a few good, deep breaths can slow your heart rate and decrease your stress levels even in the middle of potentially stressful circumstances.
There’s no answer to the stress that comes along with infertility. The journey is long and often tense. It can bring you and your spouse together one moment and make you feel as though you’re worlds apart the next, creating a roller coaster like no other. While you can’t control your external circumstances, through deliberate relaxation, you can go a long way to controlling your inner peace and calm.