As we look forward to spending time with family and friends around the holidays, some coping with infertility might be dreading the celebrations. It may be seeing others celebrate their first holidays as a family, or grandma asking “so when are you going to have kids” to even just seeing your ever-so-fertile siblings and their many children. Whatever the reason, holidays can be stressful or depressing for those coping with infertility.
There are things you can do to make the holiday season a time of happiness again or at least get you through them.
- Do something nice for someone that is less fortunate. Maybe volunteer at a food bank, assist an elderly person with daily chores, or volunteer with your local animal shelter. Seeing someone else smile for something you did always helps to warm your heart and makes you feel good.
- Adopt a new pet or just foster one. Pets always give unconditional love and being able to snuggle a nice furry companion, can sometimes be a temporary substitute where you can be maternal and shower them with love. I know that it will never replace a child, but our pets are wonderful at knowing when you are down and making sure they shower you with licks, purrs or cuddles in your lap. Which in turn has many scientific health benefits. Studies have shown that when humans and dogs interact, it can help people cope with depression and certain stress-related disorders. Preliminary results from a study show that a few minutes of stroking our pet dog prompts a release of a number of “feel good” hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. In addition, petting our pooches results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol, the adrenal chemical responsible for regulating appetite and cravings for carbohydrates.
- Plan ahead. Have answers prepared should someone inquire about your intentions to have children at any holiday events. Although many close friends and relatives will understand, you shouldn’t feel obligated to disclose personal details about your infertility experience.
- Plan your time with relatives and be selective on events you attend. It’s ok to not attend every single holiday event. If you want to arrive just before dinner and leave right after that’s ok as well. Just be sure to do what makes you feel comfortable.
- Spend time with other childless couples. Enjoying time with friends can be invaluable. Friends can always be such a great support system when dealing with infertility.
- Do things that you enjoy, plan a trip or date night out with your partner. Having something to look forward to is always great. It helps to give you that anticipation of fun and enjoyment, which in turn keeps you busy and not dwelling on depressing thoughts.
- Start a new holiday tradition with your partner. Think of something you haven’t done before and something that would be special to you both.
- Listen to music, read a book, exercise, meditate or do something creative (i.e. painting). All of these things will help you to relax and take your mind somewhere else for the time being.
- Find Ways to laugh. Whether it be attending a comedy club, watching a funny movie or just playing practical jokes on your partner. All are a great way to laugh and boost those serotonin levels in the brain which will help you to feel better.
- Talk to a support system or write in a journal. Releasing any stressful thoughts or feelings to a friend, counselor, family member or just writing your thoughts down in a journal can help to alleviate and vent your stressful thoughts. It can also sometimes help you to figure out your next steps and other ways to move forward in your journey.
Hopefully these tips will help you to make it through your holidays as best as possible. It’s ok to cry and be upset, but once you have had time to get through your emotions, allow yourself to heal and be good to yourself. After all, making sure you are healthy mentally and physically is extremely important when trying to conceive. May you all have a blessed and happy holiday!