Mindfulness helps fertility. Really, I hear you say. Unless it’s a quick fix for getting pregnant why should anyone going through infertility bother with it? No time, too much to do, and quite frankly, so very ‘last year’. Bear with me, because the studies are solid, and sensible mindfulness does pay dividends.
I was talking with a lovely client of mine recently, about how deflecting questions about babies and kids becomes a thing in life. From the minute the ink has dried on the marriage cert you’re on the clock. At first it’s easy to parry the questions. Time enough, a house to organise, work to focus on, too young yet. Myriad easy deflections to keep that spotlight off. However the reliable “Ah sure I’m still a newlywed” gets a bit stale …after four years. “My fabulously busy life” is a smokescreen for the heartache of trying to conceive, doing everything imaginable. Getting up at the crack of dawn, no before dawn, to fit in the fertility clinic visits; scans and blood tests before a day’s work, so nobody notices, nobody questions. Business as usual for the happy supportive go-to gal, the one who gets stuff done, sure she’s not ready for a family just yet, is she?
The straw that breaks the camel’s back
Another pregnancy announcement, a gender reveal from your sister, friend or work-mate. You’re delighted for them, it’s great news but …there’s that horrible feeling you hate, don’t want and never thought you were capable of feeling. Gnawing burning jealousy, anger, a fear that eats you up even while you make the right noises, go through the motions expected of you. One of a thousand cuts that go deep.
Infertility is like that. It steals the freshness of sharing happily in baby news, leaves you wondering at the random unfairness of waiting, wondering if it’ll ever happen for you. The family and friends who know you’re trying ‘How’s she doing?’
Hope flickering fitfully, feeling judged. Compensating madly, not realizing how exhausting it is, how much it costs. Something gives, the overload is too much. And this is where mindfulness comes into play, to help buffer those feelings, to protect you, keep your self-confidence, and reduce the fear.
Mindfulness that works
Humans are hard-wired to react to stimuli on a hair-trigger. Back in the wild, it was the difference between life and death when dithering cost lives.
A delay of just one-second stops that ancestral headlong knee-jerk response and prevents an unwanted cascade of stress hormones flooding the system.
- Mindfulness trains the mind to have this one-second delay in reacting, by shifting operations from the survival area of the brain to the more rational front-of-house prefrontal cortex. In essence, it prevents the blind panic or confusion that precipitates stress hormones flooding the system. Instead, the sophisticated executive function is engaged for a calm response and logical thought.
- Mindfulness reorganises sloppy habits for the better by rebooting the operating system that is the mind
- Done right, mindfulness puts you in the driving seat of how you react to events. This builds resilience.
Here are my 7 top tips for using mindfulness:
- do it for 15 minutes every day. It’s a learned skill, and something this good is worth learning. You’re worth it.
- plan your mornings better. This means phone off for the first half hour of YOUR day and no sneaky checks of email, social media. At all.
- do yoga, or have sex and shower with pleasure.
- journal with gratitude
- visualize your day panning out well, enjoying a well-earned work-out, meet-up or dinner after work
- do each thing fully. Multitasking is a mug’s game that drops you straight down into stressy survival mode.
- ditch phone notifications. Those buzzes, chirps and pops keep you wired and on edge. Once you hear them a fuse is lit, and you’re under pressure to respond.