It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Or is it?
Maybe all it takes is some well-meaning but insensitive family member asking, “When are you going to have a baby?” to send you away from the holiday dinner table and into a spiral of despair. Or maybe you are dreading all the “Baby’s First” pictures that are flooding your social media streams. Even holiday movies, which are so often centered on children and families, can be painful reminders of your own yet unfulfilled hopes.
The holidays are already stressful and infertility can add to the stress. Here are some tips for coping during the holiday season:
Cut back. The holiday season can be a whirlwind of obligations, from office parties to family get togethers. Some of those obligations might already be fraught with tension and anxiety, even under the best of circumstances. It’s ok to take a pass on invitations to events that are emotionally or financially taxing. It’s also just fine to take a break from social media. Opt instead to do things that bring you joy, like an intimate dinner with close friends or an evening of window shopping or even just a quiet evening at home.
Give more. This may seem counterintuitive, but finding ways to be more generous may relieve your stress. Stepping outside of your life for a few hours to walk a shelter dog, ring a bell or serve a meal might help you put your own challenges in perspective. Realizing that many others also face significant challenges may help you feel like you are not alone. Everyone we meet is facing a challenge of some sort, and we all deserve kindness.
Give yourself the gift of self-care. Don’t neglect your own well-being during the season. Keep that doctor’s appointment. Talk to your counselor or spiritual advisor. Make time to work out. Get a massage. Take a bubble bath. Keeping your own physical and mental health a priority will help you remind yourself that you are precious and valued and worth the effort.
Lean into your people. Stay connected to your inner circle by touching base for a quick coffee, sharing lunch or even getting together for dinner and a movie. Take time to send notes or cards to the people you love the most; the act of writing those cards and notes will give you a moment to pause and reflect on how important and meaningful that relationship is to you. It may be tempting to withdraw from others when you face a challenge like infertility, but it’s more important than ever to know who you can trust to walk with you and to nurture those relationships.Join a support group. Walking with others who are on the same journey makes sense not just during the holidays, but all year long