First in a series of guest blogs from Nancy Lishack, M.Ed, founder of Calm Waters Holistic Healing
If you or someone you love is dealing with fertility issues, you know that stress is a constant companion. But did you know you have the power to help control that stress?
I created Calm Waters Holistic Healing after studying with Dr. Alice Domar, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, one of the top women’s health experts and creator of an innovative mind/body program for fertility care. According to Dr. Domar, “infertile women report equivalent levels of anxiety and depression as (do) women with cancer, HIV status, or heart disease.”
It’s impossible to review everything I cover in my Mind-Body Fertility Program in one blog post. Since Dr. Domar has conducted numerous research studies looking at the relationship between stress and fertility, and it has been shown that decreasing stress may increase your chance for a successful pregnancy, I will share tips and techniques, you can start using this very minute to help control your stress levels.
Tapping into the power of deep breathing
The simple act of breathing can help reduce stress hormones. Unfortunately, many of us don’t breathe deeply and it’s through controlled deep breathing that you can have a positive impact on your health.
Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, a renowned expert in the field of integrative medicine, recommends breathing exercises to calm the mind. Here is his 4-7-8 breathing technique:
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath: Repeat three times.
Learn how to stay in the moment
It can be very hard to stop yourself from having regretful thoughts about what has happened in the past or fearful thoughts for what might happen in the future. However, dwelling on “what if” and “if only” types of thoughts can lead to anxiety and/or depression. When you are truly present in the moment, you cannot simultaneously let your mind dwell on the past or the future.
Sitting on the sofa watching television or meeting friends for happy hour does not help elicit the relaxation response. However, yoga and meditation do. I suggest trying yoga or meditation to quiet your mind and help your body experience the healing power of deep relaxation.
If you’re like most people, you have a to-do-list that is packed; yet your own name isn’t on that list. Simple things like sitting down with a cup of tea, taking a walk outside or getting a massage can help nourish your soul.
Self-compassion is the act of being gentle with yourself. Gentleness is essential when moving through difficult emotions. Gentleness creates a soft flow, a yielding heartfelt connection with ‘what is’ in the present moment. When you are feeling raw, vulnerable and highly emotional, slow down, breathe deeply, feel your feet on the ground, and place your hand on your heart holding yourself in unconditional love as you would a dear friend.
Part of self-compassion also includes the way you speak to yourself. Many things in life you cannot control; but you can control how you react and think. Eckart Tolle compares negative self-talk to, “a little yappy dog that never shuts up and follows you everywhere, biting your pant leg forever.” When you find your mind ruminating thoughts, stop and simply ask yourself this question: Is that thought really true?
Don’t go through this alone
One of the most powerful components of the Calm Water Holistic Healing Mind-Body Fertility Program is the personal sharing from the women and couples in the group. Sharing their stories in a safe place and with those who are going through the same trials helps to normalize their journey and creates a place of comfort and understanding.
When they discover how many others feel the same confusion, fear or shame, their loneliness abates. This type of significant support is potent medicine, especially for those who have suffered in silence, in isolation or have hidden their pain from loved ones.
Incorporating these coping strategies may soften and support your healing process, through the depression, anxiety, anger and isolation to cultivate a sense of control, a new perspective and a life filled with vitality and contentment even in the midst of your journey towards parenthood.
To read more insights from Nancy Lishack, M.Ed., founder of Calm Waters Holistic Healing visit her blog. You can also sign-up for her next 10-week Mind-Body Fertility Program, which starts June 23, 2018.