Going in Circles With Infertility and Stress – Part Two

Take a Time-Out to Control Your Stress 

Liken the accumulation of stress from infertility to a traffic accident in which the first car stops suddenly. No one has been injured and the damage from the two-car accident is contained, but neither of the parties has put out flares signalling danger.  As a result, each successive car behind them piles up, multiplying the level of damage.  Similarly, small signs of stress like nail-biting or cranky behaviour, may seem harmless, but you don’t have to be falling apart to internalize damage.  If your ultimate goal is to become pregnant, your initial, short term goal must be to lower your level of stress, clearing a space for the work to begin.  Then, keep it clear throughout your attempt to conceive.  

If you are aware of areas of your life in which stress shows up, the next step is to acknowledge the stressor and change your response to it. When you feel your personal signs of stress creeping up, you can deal with them on the spot by practicing this short visualization technique I call a time-out. 

Time-Out – I call this visualization a time-out because all it takes is excusing yourself for a few minutes. When you become practiced at it, it feels like you have had a mini-holiday. It is useful in a few ways.  

  • Replacement – By focusing on an image in your “mind’s eye,” you block out the image corresponding to your stressor.
  • Relief – Placing yourself within the positive image/scenario you have chosen, and imagining its sights, sounds, smells and tastes, helps to break the emotional connection you felt in response to the stressor.
  • Rapid – It’s a quick fix, free of cost and no prescription needed.
  • Restorative – It is very empowering. Mastering the visualization allows you to re-gain control of your stress and restore calm.    

Take Two – A 2-minute visualization exercise can be slipped into your daily life without attracting attention.  Whether you are working, busy with your family, at a party or involved in a project, it is easy to slip away for two minutes at a time.   Any Time, Anywhere – Privacy and safety are the two required elements, in order to allow you to break the connection with your current environment. Be creative; you can find privacy in the busiest places: empty offices, walk-in closets, the loo or even sitting in the car on your own driveway. In order to reach that quiet space inside, it may take four or five minutes at first, but with some practice, you will be able to reduce the time it takes to regain control to about two minutes. Please use caution and do not practice it while driving.  Pull the car over to the side of the road if necessary.  Define Your Image – Close your eyes. Isolate a specific image, real or fantasy, which evokes a 100% positive feeling. If an image of your last beach vacation, however lovely, brings up the nagging feeling that you didn’t look great in your bikini, it isn’t the right image for this exercise. Your image can be a frozen moment in time, such as the kiss at your wedding ceremony, or a conjured image of a beautiful place you will go in the future. Let your mind play on this image, vivid detail and colour, sharpening the detail. Imagine that you can smell the air, hear the sounds and even taste something that is evocative of the memory or fantasy of your choice. This image should make you smile. The emotions evoked by your image might be peace, happiness, confidence, contentment, hope or a mixture of other positive feelings.   Write Your Story – Silently, describe the scene to yourself as if narrating a script. For example: “I am dressed in white, on the silvery-grey, wooden deck of my house. I am looking down at miles of virtually empty beach. The ocean is deep blue and turquoise; the sky melts into the horizon. The late afternoon sun is making millions of white, jewelled ribbons dance on the water.  I see a few people walking or sitting and enjoying the peaceful day.”  Now you know mine; it’s your turn. Make it as real in your mind as you can. Are your feet bare? What is the surface under your feet? Is your skin cool, warm or hot? What do you hear, smell and taste?  Are you alone, or with others?  

A Good Place

To Begin Every Day – Use your Time-Out to start each day until it becomes habit and you can fit the exercise into two minutes. This works well for clearing any non-specific stress; you know, the feeling that you want to crawl back under the duvet rather than face the day.  A good place for this is in your morning shower, because it’s private, you feel the pleasant sensation of the water and it blocks out most noise.  

Step by step:

  • Relax – Close your eyes and breathe fully and slowly several times. Concentrate on your breathing for as long as it takes to empty your mind enough to begin the visualization. Invite your positive image into your mind, filling out “the frame” with the context that envelops that beautiful image.
  • Drop yourself in to your visualization. If you are a fan of Star Trek, you can imagine “beaming down to the planet.” I prefer to use a different technique:  It feels as if an artist suddenly changed a 2-dimensional picture into a 3-dimensional environment that you can enter.  Imagine that image slip like a liquid over your head and down your body until you see yourself clothed and positioned as you were during the first Time-Out.
  • Become One with your image – Focus on and isolate each part of your body and “feel” them connect with the physicality of air, earth or water in the place you imagine yourself to be. Direct your mind to travel up your body, recognizing the sensations you feel, from toes to shoulders, and then out to each hand, up your neck and to your head.
  • Emotionally connect to your image – allow yourself to recognize the feelings conjured by your visualization. This is like “getting into character” for your own dramatic performance. Are you: euphorically in love? Flush with success?  Comforted by an embrace? Peaceful and still? Dazzled by beauty? Exhilarated by speed?
  • Lock it all in – Bring your arms up and wrap them around yourself. First you were part of a positive image; now draw that positivity into you and lock it in with a hug. I find that the physical embrace centres and comforts me. Try it, especially if you have been feeling tired, lonely, fearful or shaky. If you are not in a private enough space, you may feel it is enough to just clasp your two hands together in a firm grip.
  • Acknowledge that you will have challenges during the day and that you are strong enough to embrace them without fear of over-reacting. Then, shake your arms out and slowly open your eyes.
  • Repeat your visualization however often you feel the need. 

If ever you can’t relax enough to bring up your Time-Out image, use props and your other senses to give you a prompt:

  • When you open your eyes, write down what you saw in your mind’s eye, in a very descriptive way. This is one place that the gratitude journal really comes in handy. Knowing that you are doing something positive for yourself is very empowering. The physicality of writing and seeing your description on paper will further anchor the image and your positive response to it, and you will have it to look back at if need be. 
  • Practice your visualization while holding a talisman in your hand.  Then whenever you feel stress rising, hold and rub it between your fingers. I use a tiny silver ball with the faint, twinkling sound of chimes, to trigger both visual and auditory memories of my happy place.

I would be very interested to hear from you about your use of the Time-Out exercise; what your image is and how well it works as a stress reliever. 

My blog is http://yourgreatlife.typepad.comMy website is http://yourgreatlife.co.uk Contact information:  020 8954 2897 or lisa@yourgreatlife.co.uk

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Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons & 5 to grow on

I read this online after it was mentioned by one of the lifecoaches on twitter and wanted to share it with you.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

To reach this Plain Dealer columnist:

rbrett@plaind.com, 216-999-6328

REGINA BRETT’S 45 LIFE LESSONS

Read Regina’s most requested column, the one that’s become an Internet phenomenon.

  • Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on
  • Life’s lessons speed up on Internet; 90 years of living in 50
  • Regina Brett is not 90 years old … yet: Her bio
  •  

    TTC-When to ask for help

    As a general guideline most GP’s will not refer a couple for investigations for infertility until they have been trying for less than 12 months if the women is under 35 years , and 6 months if the woman is over 35 years.

    Of course this is only a guideline & there are many exceptions to this, for example if the couple have had previous fertility treatment, referral is likely to be much sooner.

    12 months can seem a very long time to wait when you are trying to conceive, so lots of couples like to test their own fertility. I personally only lasted 4 months before I convinced my other half to have a male fertility test.

    If the home male fertility test picks up a problem you should then go and see your doctor who will arrange further male tests.

    Click here for more info on home male fertility tests

    Would you like to blog about fertility issues ?

    We have some really great guest fertility bloggers, and are always looking for new contributors for this fertility blog. If you would like to join our team of contributors please get in touch.

    We are also looking for fertility experts. Are you working in a field of fertility or are in complementary medicine, and would like to share your knowledge and wisdom with our readers ? Would you like to blog as a guest on our fertility blog ?

    If you would like to be a guest fertility blogger or contributor please e-mail us or post in comments and we will e-mail you.

    Any e-mail address or personal info you leave in comments is kept private

    You know things are bad when !

     My name is Susie. I am 45 years old and think I may be having hot flushes-yeeks-or is it the stress I am under-who knows.

    Anyway my periods are very irregular, I am not sleeping properly due to hot flushes at night. I am not sure whether this is due to stress or whether I am menopausal !! I know I should have a test done but I am dreading what it will find-you could say I am burying my head in the sand at present.

    Today I knew things had come to a head when I went for a dental appointment, and the lovely dental hygienist lady was talking to me about how I need to look after my gums more. She went on to say that often we women neglect ourselves, while we are so busy looking after everyones elses needs. It was at this point that I started crying and that was when I realised how bad the stress had got, and that I needed to do something about it.

    I have decided to use this guest blog spot to talk about these stresses that I have been bottling up inside, and to find ways of managing the stress better. I am also going to make looking after my health and wellbeing a priority from now on. Sometimes it takes someone else giving us permission to do this, to make it seem ok.

    I will let you know how I get on .

    Thank you for listening

    Susie

    Going in Circles With Infertility and Stress – Part One

    Moderate stress is part of the human condition, however, one serious stressor such as infertility, can truly disrupt our lives and make the difference between a good year (substitute “decade,” if applicable) and a bad one.  The irony is that stress is often cited as a serious factor in infertility.  It’s the old chicken and egg question…which of these came first. You may never answer that question, because you could initially have felt stressed by such common factors as the rigors of your job, difficulties in your relationship, financial insecurity, moving house or simply that you are a worrier.  Whichever it is, if you are struggling with uncertainty about whether you will ever have a child and want to give yourself every chance of success you must look at the symptoms of your stress and find ways to lessen them.  

    Loss of identity – With infertility, women are confronted with two serious blows to their identity. The first is the endangerment to their life plan, including hopes and expectations of having a child or children of their own. The second blow is to their image as a woman, which includes the perception that their body is letting them down by not functioning as it should. This in turn affects their sense of femininity and sense of purpose.  Who am I, if not a mother?  Who am I, if my body won’t do what it is supposed to do?   

    Lack of control – Infertility propels women into a world of blood tests, unfamiliar medical jargon, drug therapy and/or surgery.  Not only can they be devastated by their diagnosis, but also by their measurement against a Rate of Success chart.  You are no longer you; now, you are geriatric (40 & over?), obese, poly-cystic, have unhealthy eggs, anti-cardio whatever and/or “unexplained” infertility. While weight, nutrition and bad habits can be improved, we can’t turn back the hands of time or produce another supply of eggs. To any woman who has even the slightest tendency toward perfectionism, this categorization, entry into the mind-boggling medical system and the inability to control her own reproductive function can be dehumanizing.  Even the strongest woman can find herself feeling helpless, isolated and dependent, all of which are incredibly stressful.  

    Where stress shows up – Stress, from any source, is cumulative and can affect other psychological and/or physiological areas of your system.  Just as stress from your job can turn around and bite you from behind, lessening your efficiency at the workplace, stress from infertility can affect your reproductive health.  Common areas that show symptoms of serious stress are: 

    • Appetite and weight – either losing or gaining them substantially
    • Sleep – not having enough of it
    • Concentration and organization – the loss of which can affect productivity and safety
    • Emotional stability (neediness, wide-ranging emotions, desire to isolate yourself, jealousy, self-esteem, guilt, anger, etc…)
    • Headaches
    • Digestive system
    • Blood pressure
    • Menstrual cycle – you must ovulate properly and on schedule to achieve best chance of conceiving
    • Personality – a rollercoaster of emotions; acting out
    • Relationships – arguing, feeling unsupported, worrying about the future together
    • Reliance upon unhealthy habits to calm you – smoking, drinking alcohol, etc…
    • Temperament – whether low, disinterested and negative or self-centred, volatile, even bitchy 

    Both the stress and its symptoms are real and can cause temporary or long-lasting damage, so don’t brush them off.  If you can identify with any of the symptoms above, it’s time to find your way out of this maze. 

    Acknowledging Stress – Since your ultimate goal is to become pregnant, your primary, short term goal must be to acknowledge and then lower your level of stress.  Look at how you are performing in your job, your relationship and friendships. Have you been in denial about how well you are coping with the strain of infertility? Perhaps you can remember uncharacteristic emotional outbursts, sudden tearfulness, and snappish responses. A little of this is normal and quite understandable, until it begins to impact upon the very things you need to safeguard: your health and your support network.  If you notice that people are walking on eggshells around you, it’s a pretty good clue that you are not coping well with stress. Be careful. Patience may run out if you start to indulge in primadonna behaviour, expecting special treatment all the time.  You need all the support you can get, so don’t alienate those who are standing by to offer it. 

    There are several things you can do to help yourself if you are suffering from stress due to infertility.  How do you know for sure if this pertains to you? Self-awareness is essential, but if you are not particularly good at it, ask someone you like and trust to be honest with you.  

    1. Begin a gratitude journal. A truly miserable person will find this difficult at first, however, even if (or especially if) you fit that description; the focus on the positives will also have a cumulative effect. Record the simplest or mundane events in your day if you must, such as “the sun is shining, my bus was on time and I haven’t gotten my period yet.”  Eventually, you may find gratitude for enough things in your life and even those connected to your infertility, like “met a new friend in the doctor’s waiting room.”
    2. Try acupuncture, making sure to find a practitioner who has knowledge of your condition.
    3. If you are in fertility treatment, schedule the scans and blood tests for early morning to get them out of the way, leaving you with the rest of the day to live your regular routine.
    4. Talk about it. See a fertility coach or counsellor with whom you can release your pent-up stress.  Their objectivity, confidentiality and support make sessions a safe place to talk about your thoughts and feelings and work out your options. It gives your partner and friends a break too.

    In Part Two, I show you how a visualization exercise I call a time-out can be a quick, easy and independent way to lower your stress level.

    My blog is  http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com/

    and my website is  http://yourgreatlife.co.uk/

    Contact information is 020 8954 2897.

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    Putting some fun back into Trying to Conceive

    On the theme of fun this week-are you finding it fun trying to conceive ?

    Sometimes the pressure of infertility, can cause us to stop enjoying the process.

    Pleasure and enjoyment for both partners during sex may increase the chances of conceiving, and certainly stress can be a factor in unexplained infertility.

    Ask yourself -What can you do to put the fun back into the whole business of conceiving

    Remember when you were first a couple-what did you do then to set the mood for romance ?  Remember dating ?

    Girls set your contrast to high-dress feminine & sexy. The more feminine you act & look, the more masculine he will feel .You will feel great and he will appreciate the effort. Get ready for an evening of romance the way you used to. Have a bath or shower, do your hair, wear perfume and body lotion. Put your make up on. Come on he’s worth it, and so are you.

    Guys-have a shower, wash your hair, put clean clothes on. Get ready for a date. Your partner will apreciate the effort.

    Schedule a date night at least once a week

    Top Tips for putting some fun back into ttc

    1. Rather than saying ‘hey I’m ovulating so tonights the night’ just seduce him with your womanly ways and don’t mention the o word.
    2. Sexy underwear or negligees are far more effective than pyjamas when you are seducing him-you can always put the jammies on after if its cold
    3. Use a lubricant (make sure its a fertility friendly one)
    4. Consider using adult sex toys to add a bit of fun

    Click here to see our range of discrete adult sex toys & lubricants

    What are you going to do to have fun ?

    It is a gorgeous sunny morning again here today-it has been a great September so far .

    As it is Friday, I am thinking about what we are going to do for the weekend to have some fun & relaxation. We all need some fun in our lives whatever else is going on.

    Trying to conceive can be great fun (unprotected sex for starters) but when things do not happen quickly or there are problems, it can turn something that was fun into a cause of stress.

    At times of stress it is particularly important to find ways of putting fun back into our lives & also making time to relax.

    How you do this varies from person to person. The first thing is to recognise that you need this.

    Fun & laughter releases endorphins that make us feel positive and that life is worth living. Without fun in our lives things can become very montonous.

    First thing is to make time for fun-avoid overscheduling yourself with things that are not fun.

    Make having some fun a priority-even if its just 5 minutes a day.

    Plan today what you are going to do as a couple to have some fun this coming weekend.

    Here are some suggestions for September weekend fun:

    • A long lie in Saturday morning reading magazines in bed
    • Breakfast in bed
    • A long walk in the sun together
    • A bike ride
    • Blackberry picking & making jam
    • Lunch out together
    • Gardening together-maybe plant some bulbs
    • Cook together
    • A long hot bubble bath (maybe together)
    • Watch a good film or some tv- the X factor is great fun
    • Just for fun sex

    These are just a few ideas, yours may be very different-whatever is fun for you

     Have a great weekend.

    Which lubricants are fertility friendly ?

    We are very lucky in the UK as we now have a choice of 4 fertility friendly lubricants, that have been devoloped  especially for couples trying to conceive.

    Each of the personal lubricants has been designed to be sperm friendly for use during conception.

    The 4 fertility friendly lubricants available in UK are:

    Conceive Plus

    Zestica Fertility

    Pre-Seed

    Pre Lubricant

    Click on the links above to find out more about each lubricant

    In recent years we have become aware that your choice of intimate lubricant can affect your chances of conceiving. So whichever lubricant you decide to use make sure it is a fertility friendly one

    What is Conceive Plus ?

    You may be wondering what this new fertility product, is and how it can help you to conceive.

    Conceive plus by Sasmar, is a product that has recently been launched in UK.

    It is a fertility friendly personal lubricant for couples trying to conceive.

    Many couples do not realise that their choice of personal lubricant could be affecting their chances of conceiving. Many popular personal lubricants can create a barrier, that interferes with sperm, or can even be toxic to sperm. Conceive plus and other fertility lubricants have been designed to be sperm friendly.

    Click here to find out more about Sasmar Conceive Plus