The festive season can be challenging for many people, particularly if you’re experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, as you navigate extended family members asking about your plans for starting a family.
As Christmas approaches, it may feel like you are being pulled in all directions - longing for that picture perfect family time of your own, trying to put on a happy face while you may be hurting on the inside, and wishing people would leave the issue alone. All these feelings are perfectly normal.
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, gratitude and family. Here are eight ways to gracefully survive this festive season when you’re having difficulties conceiving.
1. Be prepared
In the coming weeks, you may have to deal with curiosity from family members, or have to cope with insensitive comments. For this, it pays to practice ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard. At home, rehearse a few lines you can say if someone enquires about this sensitive topic. Discuss and agree with your partner what your main message will be to such enquiries and who may potentially deal with it. Be polite, somewhat vague and friendly. Take control of the situation, be warm and then change the subject.
2. Communicate healthy boundaries
Unfortunately, you may have to deal with people who are pushy, rude or insensitive. If someone makes a hurtful comment, prepare for this too. People usually don’t know how hurtful it is if they suggest a wonder diet or that you simply need to relax. Remember most of the time they are just trying to help. Be patient with them. Politely and firmly reinforce your boundaries - you never have to discuss anything you are not comfortable discussing, and you’re within your rights to make this known.
3. Practice self-care
The holidays can be a draining time at best. Since December is so often a period of overindulgence, set yourself some goals when it comes to eating and drinking, your sleep routine and even your spending habits, so as not overextend yourself or put yourself into overly stressful situations. But take the opportunity to have a drink without feeling guilty!
4. Acknowledge your relationship
While you’re dedicating some ‘me’ time spend some time on your relationship as well. Sometimes, it may feel to you that your partner is not equally interested in the fertility related topics. Well, how do you truly know what your partner thinks or feels about it? Make a conscious decision to acknowledge your partners feelings. A simple question like ‘What can I do for you?’, ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘I’m here for you’ can help to strengthen your relationship.
5. Remember to be grateful
Constantly realign to all the ways that your life is full and meaningful already, by writing down three things you’re grateful for every day.
6. Find your own well-being in the present
So often, our suffering is caused in most part by our own thoughts and interpretations of reality, rather than reality itself. Try to reclaim your own presence of mind and power in the coming months and remember - nobody can make you feel anything, at least, not without your permission.
When you get carried away in your own thoughts about the world around you, one thing always happens - you are no longer in the world. Sometimes we cannot predict the shape our happiness will come in. Try and find happiness and well-being within you, right now and not in worries of what could be.
7. Challenge negative thinking
If your thoughts manifest in a negative form, it might be time to learn to challenge this negative thinking. Watch your inner monologue and be careful of one-dimensional, “black or white” thinking. The more you tell yourself something, the more you’ll think it’s true, so it pays to be watchful - is it really true that you can never enjoy Christmas because you don’t have children?
When you tell yourself something like, “Everything will be OK, just as soon as…” you’re brushing away the wonder of the present moment, and all the ways that your life is already OK, right now.
8. Take a breather
All of the above can be achieved if you can take a moment every day to stop, turn inward and reflect on our experiences. By incorporating a breathing exercise into your daily routine, you train yourself to relax, which loosens your muscles and lowers your cortisol levels. This brings you back to focused awareness on the present.
There is any number of helpful breathing exercises. You can try a 4/7 technique: wherever you are, close your eyes and find your breath. Breathe slowly in for a count of four, pause for a moment, and then breathe slowly out again for a count of seven. Placing your hands on your lower ribs or diaphragm can focus your attention on the way your lungs fill and empty as you breathe. Simply let go, and clear your mind, even if it’s just for a short while.
The festive season can be a difficult time as you navigate your journey to parenthood, but try to see the many ways that it can remind you of the joys you already have in your life.
All our fertility clinics offer supportive counselling services to patients. If you need a little extra help, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced fertility counsellors.
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