“Relax,” “Take a vacation,” “Don’t worry so much”. These are a few comments infertile couples frequently hear. It may seem like simple advice but when you’ve gone through multiple failed cycles and you’re nearing your breakpoint, the last thing you want to hear is "Just relax." You’re probably thinking, “How can I relax when I’m doing everything I can and I still can’t get pregnant?”.
Relaxing just doesn’t cut it when you have constant thoughts like worrying about your next pregnancy result, how you are going to afford another cycle if this one fails, or that your relationship with your partner is strained. According to Harvard Health Publications, current research has found that patients who are going through fertility treatment are just as stressed as those diagnosed with cancer and heart disease. Managing stress while undergoing fertility treatment is essential.
When you are stressed, your body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure. If the body is continuously producing adrenaline your body is always in a state of fight or flight. This state tenses the body and doesn’t allow it to function properly and easily. When a person’s body is stressed the immune system is suppressed(1). This can lead to illness and depression. Many like to relax by taking a hot bath, vacationing, or going to a movie. These are good short-term ways to unwind but they aren’t effective ways to treat stress long term. Nor are they helpful ways to cope with the overwhelming thoughts constantly rushing through your mind.
According to the American Heart Association, meditation is a great way to help ease the mind and reduce heart rate and blood pressure naturally. To meditate, all you need is a quiet space and 10 to 20 minutes of your time. It is recommended to meditate daily in order to see long-term benefits.
Meditating is about observing your thoughts and connecting to your breath. When a thought, feeling, or sensation enters the mind, we are quick to analyze and judge it. With meditation, you are accepting that thought, feeling, or sensation and allowing it to pass. If you start to react to it, you return your focus to your breathing.
According to Harvard Health Publications, taking long, slow deep breaths helps the brain disengage. This retrains the brain to redirect distracting thoughts. Some people like to add a mantra to their meditation practice. When the mind starts to wander, you can repeat the mantra as you reconnect with your breath. A mantra can be one word or a short statement. The mantra should be a positive statement that you want to manifest in your life.
It is important to remember that meditating is a practice and over time you will notice it will become easier. For patients who are seeking fertility treatment and want to find a way to ease the stresses in their lives, it may be beneficial to add a meditation practice to your daily routine.