Do you find yourself in a fertility chat room an hour after you promised yourself you would stop? Are you seeing your partner’s eyes glaze over as you review your infertility treatment protocols for the umpteenth time? Is your list of questions and concerns about the “what ifs” a mile long? If so, you have plenty of company.
Having much at stake and simultaneously feeling out of control, people frequently find themselves feeling anxious and caught in a swirl of obsessive over thinking.
8 Tips for Calming an Overactive Mind during Infertility Treatment
1. Take care of yourself, particularly in ways that you find calming.
Some form of exercise is always useful. If you haven’t been exercising, now is the time to start. If you exercise intensively, you might possibly need to switch to something less intensive. In any case, finding something that you enjoy and that in the end leaves you feeling relaxed is important. Try to slow down and observe what you are thinking in a non-judgmental way. This takes practice. Meditation apps and breathing exercises can be helpful in working towards this.
In addition, many people find acupuncture, massage or yoga helpful in turning down a buzzing mind. Sleep is always important and if you consistently have trouble sleeping you should talk to your doctor.
2. Create a good team for yourself.
Because it is so personal, infertility treatment can be lonely. Isolation can easily lead to circular thinking. Having a group of people to help you make key decisions and to be there for you when you need it is important. This group could include a doctor or nurse whom you respect, a trusted friend(s) or family member(s).
Think carefully about whose perspective and support is likely to be most helpful to you. Who helps you tune down, lighten up and think constructively? Who is understanding and supportive in a way that makes you feel good about yourself? Think about how you can tactfully let people know how they can best give you support.
3. Talk to others who have personal experience with infertility. Sharing information, having a good laugh together, hearing someone else’s experience and perspective generally make people feel better.
Think about joining one of the many support groups available at Shady Grove Fertility. You do not have to be a group kind of person to find a group rejuvenating. You also connect online or join a forum
4. Try to re-frame your situation.
Sometimes accepting what is helps people move ahead in a better frame of mind. Once you are able to change the mindset “this is a catastrophe” to “this is one of the biggest challenges of my life but I will get through it,” things may seem more manageable.
5. Reset expectations.
Infertility treatment is always a journey. It is important to find the line between optimism and setting yourself up for disappointment. Knowing success rates for your treatment options based on a variety of diagnostic points may help create realistic expectations. Talk with your doctor about what to expect.
6. Trust yourself.
You may begin by feeling that the world of fertility treatment is strange new territory for which you are ill prepared. However, your values and established skills are a compass. For example, if you are generally a good decision maker, are good at following directions and understanding data, or are skilled at connecting with people, put those skills to use as you charter this new territory.
7. The internet is both friend and foe.
There is always one more blog to read or chat room to check out. More information is not always the answer, you know yourself best—consider what is best for you in terms of screen time. And try to stick to it.
8. If you think it would be helpful, consider seeing a mental health professional.
For some, it may be helpful to develop some better cognitive skills to help in self-regulation during this trying time. For others, the endless loop of over-thinking may be a way of avoiding the mourning that needs to be done when you are confronted with a loss. The slow work of addressing that in one way or another is important for your present and future well being.
If you are currently trying to conceive, and would like more information, please call our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or click to schedule an appointment.
About the Author:
Michelle Hester, MSW, LCSW-C has worked for many years with people dealing with infertility. She is currently working with patients who are making the transition to donor egg or donor sperm. She sees people in her home office in upper NW D.C. where she also runs a group for single women.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of August 2018.