So, you are struggling to conceive and everyone keeps saying, “Stop worrying”, “Reduce your stress”, “Stay positive” or “Just relax and it will happen!”
How on earth are you going to do that, you wonder. How could that possibly happen when you’ve been trying to conceive for so long and it’s ALL you can think about.
Unfortunately, stress can impact your fertility in numerous ways:
- You might find you are less likely to have intercourse with your partner
- You reach out for alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or unhealthy food when you are stressed?
- Studies have shown that stress hormones themselves can result in a delay in, or eventually even stop ovulation. The University of California undertook a study which showed stressed women produced 20% fewer eggs per cycle compared to women who were not stressed.
- A study by Oxford University showed that women whose saliva had high levels of alpha-amylase (an enzyme that marks stress) had a marked decrease in conception levels.
- Studies have also shown that people often don’t start fertility treatment or abandon treatments due to their stress levels, rather than actual medical prognosis.
So how can I cope with my anxiety and stress?
It is possible to overcome worry and anxiety and start to feel positive about your body and fertility. It is also possible for you to be happy and appreciate the life you have now whilst still trying to conceive.
Worrying is a habit which can be broken. Knowing this you could take a small step and be open to change by deciding to practice some of the techniques I am going to share with you. These simple ideas could start that journey to change and improve your life, regardless of whether or not you conceive.
Listen to a Relax mp3
Taking some time out to be aware of your body and breathe is therapeutic in its own right. Giving yourself this “you” time to switch off can help to reduce stress hormones and allow you to prepare for a good night’s sleep. If you would like to try this, you can download my ‘Relax’ mp3 here: https://www.josimons.co.uk/signup/
Start a gratitude journal
Trying for a baby can easily take over your thoughts and life, and you forget to enjoy the life you already have.
Every day, write down 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for. This will help you to seek out the positives in your life, instead of allowing your mind to focus on the negatives of why you haven’t yet conceived. Real focus on this activity will also release endorphins, increase your feeling of wellbeing and create a new focus of attention.
Practice 7-11 breathing
Breathing is a very effective self-help tool that can create a feeling of relaxation and increased wellbeing.
Inhale for 7 counts through your nose, pause briefly, then exhale slowly through your mouth for 11 counts. Or you can try 5 breaths in and 7 breaths out if you prefer. Repeat this a few times until you feel yourself beginning to relax.
The important part of this technique is its emphasis on extending the exhalation which will increase relaxation and help balance the autonomic nervous system. Practicing this when you are not stressed will help it to become more automatic when you are stressed.
Put “worry time” in your diary
Put a “worry” half hour in your diary every day, building it into your routine at the same time, when you are in the same place.
If you find yourself worrying outside this time, make a note of what you are anxious about and wait until the designated time when you are allowed to worry about it. Make yourself choose that set time and place for worrying.
When you realise that you can develop the ability to delay your worrying thoughts, you’ll realise that you have more control over your worrying than you originally thought.
Exercise – but not too much
Physical activity is known to lower stress. In a study by Lauren Wise (ScD, Professor of Epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health), 1-5 hours of activity (e.g. walking) a week raises the odds of conception. However, individuals who worked out too vigorously were found less likely to conceive.
Now, what changes will you make today to reduce stress and increase happiness in your journey to parenthood? Try a couple of suggestions and you might just be surprised at the results!
A note about the author:
Jo Simons provides Fertility Hypnotherapy & Reflexology to clients to help put them in the best place for them to conceive. She also provides hypnobirthing for those who are pregnant and would like to experience labour in a more relaxed state.
If you would like to have an initial conversation to see if this is something that would help you move forward, please contact us or visit Jo’s website: www.josimons.co.uk