The holiday season can be stressful for everyone, but for those struggling with infertility, this may be an especially difficult time. Experiment with these stress relieving activities, and find a few that work best.
1. Get outside for a walk, preferably near trees, a park, or by a lake, stream, or river. Spending time in nature has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, strengthen the immune system, and increase the levels of the “feel good” neurotransmitters.
2. Make a playlist of music that helps you relax or lifts your mood. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on your mind and body, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing levels of stress hormones.
3. Get (or give) a massage. Gentle touch can increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps with relaxation, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that increases a sense of well-being.
4. Get together with friends who are supportive, and avoid (when possible) being around those who leave you feeling drained or more stressed.
5. Watch a funny movie, video, or television show. Laughter helps relax the body and mind. (Check out a video on “laughter yoga.”)
6. Sleep! Sleep deprivation adds to stress and raises cortisol levels… and also causes carbohydrate cravings.
7. Stay active. Get some form of regular exercise on most days. This does not necessarily mean going to the gym; go for a walk, dance, try a yoga class, bike, or find an activity that you find enjoyable. Exercise is a great stress reliever.
8. Practice saying no to activities or invitations that drain your energy or make you feel more stressed, especially around the holidays. It is OK to disappoint others if it helps protect you from difficult situations.
9. Write a gratitude letter. Take a moment to think back and remember an instance when someone did something for you for which you are extremely grateful. Write a letter to this person describing why you are grateful or how this individual has affected your life, and deliver it in person if possible. This activity has been shown to increase levels of positive emotions for the writer as well as the receiver.
10. Ask for professional help if you feel persistently anxious or depressed, or if you find these feelings are interfering with your ability to sleep or carry out your normal activities.
Dr. Namnoum is board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. A native of Atlanta, she received her medical degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Johns Hopkins as well.
Dr. Namnoum has also pursued her strong interest in Integrative Medicine, which combines the best of conventional medicine with complementary approaches and a “whole person” focus, including attention to nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management. She believes that education, advocacy and encouragement are important parts of the physician-patient relationship.
Sponsored by: Georgia Reproductive Specialists | Atlanta/Northside | Decatur | Alpharetta | Buckhead/Piedmont | (404) 843-BABY | www.ivf.com