Anxiety is an unavoidable part of infertility treatment, and is probably one of the main reasons that the process can often feel so traumatic. Our minds automatically jump on the roller coaster, trying to take control of the situation.
There are many steps to go through in fertility treatment and each one can create reasons for worry, if we let it.
There is the initial meeting with the fertility doctor, the fertility testing, getting results back, response to treatment, and of course, will treatment work?
Receiving information and feedback from the fertility doctor can also be incredibly stressful. The doctor is often rushed and it isn’t uncommon to leave the clinic with questions that get left unanswered.
I will never forget the time I almost fainted on an appointment with my fertility doctor. The appointment had finished, but I was persistent and kept asking him questions, possibly the same question in different forms. I wanted reassurance and I wasn’t getting it. I could have sat there all day. It was like he was this prominent king who held the secret answers that I needed to unlock the mystery.
Eventually, he gently shooed me out of his office by moving the conversation from sitting to standing. We were standing in the hall and as I was expressing my anxiety about my inability to conceive, I noticed a dizzy feeling. I immediately removed myself and went to sit down on a chair. I almost fainted.
I was so lost in my head that I forgot to breath.
Part of my work now as a fertility counsellor is helping others learn techniques to ease the fertility experience. Through a mind-body approach, we can learn to work with the anxiety in new ways.
Through the breath and conscious awareness we can move ourselves above the turmoil into a state of equilibrium which will assist us in the present and future.
Below are two easy ways that you can shift from the busy mind into the moment.
One of the very first things that happens when we begin to feel anxiety is that our breath shortens and the body goes into a state of “fight or flight.” When we get into this state, we are less capable of seeing what is really happening. This response is genetically encoded in our genes and would be very useful if we were caveman.
Once we become familiar with our breath, we can play with it in new ways. Did you know that consciously slowing down breathing will signal the body that everything is ok? You can talk to yourself too. It doesn’t need to be out loud, but breathing slowly in and out and thinking “everything is ok”, can interrupt the fight and flight.
The average person breathes about 12-16 times per minute. In stressful situations that increase anxiety, our breathing can increase too. Through controlled breathing and consciously slowing down the breath, we can create space around the situation, expand our options, and see a larger picture.
With the breath a little bit slowed down, we can begin to reconnect to our core, truth and heart centre. There is a simple technique that grounds us to our surroundings when we are lost in any particular thought, story or feeling fragmented. Observing involves returning to the present moment by noticing where we actually are, as opposed to the thoughts in our head. Through observation of our physical surroundings, we cease identifying with thoughts, pulling us back into the here and now. Feeling your feet on the ground, you can feel your centre of gravity and well, where are you?
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