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Give Yourself a Break Today

a blog by Barbara Blitzer, LCSW-C, M.Ed., February 14, 2012

Have you ever been stressed about being stressed? Have you ever felt that you should be calmer, stronger, less upset? Have you ever tried to do mind-body or relaxation exercises only to create more stress by worrying that you weren’t doing them right?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Many of the women I’ve worked with over the years have had this issue. They’ve blamed themselves for responding in the most natural way in the world. If you’re on a fertility journey, you’re on a rough road. You’re afraid of not being able to have something your heart cries for. It’s natural to feel the stress.

Your body responds to emotional danger just as it does to physical danger. If you were facing a tiger, you would need to fight for your life. Your body responds by pumping the hormones that can make you strong enough to fight and fast enough to flee. It can do the same when you are facing infertility. This actually makes sense, because even though you are not fighting for your physical life, you are fighting for the life you want, and the possibility of not getting it is very intense.

Although it’s natural to feel stress, you do want to do what you can to give your mind and body a break and to find some peace. I absolutely believe that mind body practices can help you do that, but they work best when we have a realistic attitude and are compassionate with ourselves.

To help you be kind to yourself and to make your mind-body practices most effective I’ve made a kind of attitudinal to do list that I hope you will keep in mind. Do only those practices that allow you to love and honor yourself more. You deserve it. Something that ends with your feeling inadequate in some way is not helpful. Remember, the totally calm mind pretty much doesn’t exist, but you can get glimpses, rest periods and reprieves.

  • Be good enough. Not perfect. It doesn’t exist anyway so why torture you? That goes for this list too.
  • Be yourself. Not the same thing works for everyone. For you, it might be mindfulness, a body scan or a walk in the woods. Someone else might love yoga and warm baths. Find yours and honor it.
  • Practice techniques you like over time. There can be a a learning curve, and your skills will build with practice.
  • Work on relationships as well as just relaxation. A fight with your spouse can add a ton of stress, as well you know.
  • Work with your thoughts, especially the ones that predict catastrophe. Find ways to become realistically optimistic in the face of uncertainty. That applies to your mind-body practice as well.
  • Expect happiness and strive for it. That’s what this is all about anyways.
  • Never, never blame yourself for your infertility or for feeling stressed. Instead, lighten your stress by appreciating yourself for your courage and determination. This journey isn’t easy! Treat yourself well.

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