When riding a roller coaster are you the kind of person who hangs on for dear life? A grip so tight, your hands are sore when it’s over? Or are you the kind of person that lets go and rides the wave of fear and excitement of the unknown around every corner.
As much as I hate to generalize in my practice, because we are all unique, I have noticed that we tend to fall into one camp or another. There is a very specific woman that keeps coming through my door in search of answers. This woman is powerful, in control and giving of herself. She has trouble saying “No” to others. Quite often because of all her commitments, she is short on sleep. If any of this sounds familiar, you may be sacrificing yourself for all the things you think you should be doing and how they should be done.
Add in the stresses of the infertility journey, these women end up on my doorstep exhausted, hopeless and defeated. Often, they are having irregular menstrual cycles and sometimes stopped ovulating all together.
It’s funny because my first question isn’t one of health; it’s one of birth order. Many of these women are the eldest children in their family. They’ve always strived to fulfill expectations from their parents, employers and society as a whole. They know what success should look like and when that “go get em’”attitude doesn’t result in a successful pregnancy, they are left depleted.
So where do we begin? How do we ease our fingers on that roller coaster bar?
The first step is slowing down.
In order to nurture the body’s natural abilities, we need to shift that energy that we always give to others back to yourself. This self-care protocol means we have to mix things up a bit.
It’s helpful in self-care to think of your body as having an energy bank, some of it is for others and some of it should be kept for ourselves. Many of us give away far too much energy to things we can’t control or people who may not give back. In the mind-body fertility group I focus on the importance of using self-care as a way to renew and reconnect with YOU in a positive and more productive way.
This is much more than getting a manicure; it’s about engaging in a routine that looks inward, with intention. For example, I am going to soak in a bubble bath for 20 minutes without being interrupted, I’m going to eat this meal mindfully or I’m going to get that manicure but I’m turning off my phone the whole time and close my eyes. Make sense? It may sound cheesy but it actually works.
When we start to put ourselves first, we naturally feel better. It’s important to commit fully to ourselves; to allow that time so our mind and body can and relax. We come back to our center.
So where do we begin? Below is a list that I often use in my mind-body group, find an idea that works for you.
M – MIND Find something that stimulates your mind like curling up with a good book, attending a class to expand your horizons, reading poetry. Something to get your mind fired up.
E – ENJOY Do what makes you feel happy, healthy and centred. Go for a walk, go to the gym, do yoga, bake, something that feeds your soul.
B- BREATH Breathing techniques help you pause, readjust your thinking or just keep you from going off the deep end. Deep breaths throughout the day help to center us.
A – ATTITUDE Listen to that inner cheerleader. We’ve all heard “fake it till you make it”, it’s time to cheer yourself on. Tell yourself you’re worthy.
S- SLEEP It may seem obvious but we have far less self control when we are tired, your mind needs energy to survive stressful situations. Make sure you are restoring those reserves with plenty of shut eye.
The journey through infertility demands that we take ourselves off of autopilot. Being kind to ourselves is the first step in that process. As we focus inward and bring more positive energy to our bodies, our bodies will naturally feel more connected, centered and whole. Maybe then we can let go a little and relax into that roller coaster ride.
Amira Posner is a fertility counsellor in Toronto, Ontario. She works with individuals and couples who are struggling with infertility. Amira facilitates the Mind-Body Fertility Group at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
She is also a mother of three miracles.