For persons trying to conceive, the holidays may be difficult and New Year's is no exception. Unlike others who anxiously anticipate the new year and make resolutions to eat healthier or start an exercise program, infertility patients may continue to plod along staying narrowly focused on the goal of having a child. While this is understandable, it will not serve you well in the long run. The new year is an opportunity for you to take stock of your life. Although you may not have realized your goal of having a baby yet, New Year's can be a chance to push the "reset" button and make a few changes that will increase your overall level of happiness. In infertility-speak, making a few changes will help you cope better with the demands of treatment. So what can you do to embrace this new, fresh 2014? Let's see what the experts have to say:
Dr. Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness, characterizes happiness as a skill or set of skills that we need to practice. Dr. Carter goes on to say that happiness is best predicted by how connected you are to other people. Infertility patients often limit their social interactions because they feel so misunderstood by family and friends. This leads to increased feelings of isolation and depression. So make a goal of getting out there during 2014. Waiting until you are pregnant before resuming a social life is not going to make you feel better. Try to reach out to friends who are good listeners. Make sure they understand how painful trying to conceive has been for you and tell them how they can be supportive. For friends and family who are "listening-challenged," be very clear and direct about what you want from them. For example, tell your mother that when you talk about your cycle you do not want her to jump in and try to make you feel better. Tell her you just want her to listen and give you a hug. People who are fixers often feel pressured to provide a solution when another person shares a problem. Finding out that you just need a sounding board can be a huge relief to fixers! Also take note, social media contact doesn't count! Research shows that the more time people spend on Facebook, the worse they felt.
Other things that can increase your happiness:
- Getting enough sleep
- Regular exercise
- Mindfulness (staying focused on the present)
Studies show that regularly taking stock of your "blessings," results in greater happiness. For infertility patients, it is so easy to lose sight of the positive things in your life. Being grateful does not erase the pain of infertility, of course, but it helps you to keep a sense of balance regarding your life. Being grateful can serve as a reminder that your spouse is a pretty wonderful guy and that you have the cutest Yorkie on the planet. And what about that gorgeous rose bush outside of your bedroom window? Isn't it amazing that you live in a beautiful home and have plenty of food to eat and have never been sick a day in your life? How cool is it that your boss also went through IVF and gives you that, "I get it, " look when you are trying to rearrange your schedule for the upcoming transfer? The other things to be grateful for are the small things that serve to bring us joy: the smell of fresh-cut grass after rain, the feel of warm sunshine on your face, the creamy, smooth sensation of chocolate melting in your mouth -- all can boost your happiness. Notice. Enjoy. Be grateful.
Finally, help someone else. It does not have to be much, but the act of helping increases happiness. I've started regularly letting others go in front of me at the grocery store. You would not believe how shocked people are when I offer and how happy they become! Seeing them smile and gush on about how kind I am makes me feel, well, pretty darn happy. Think small, little gestures that make someone else's day: opening the door, giving up the coveted parking place two steps from the door, complimenting someone's attire, letting the other guy go first at the stop sign, etc. You get the idea.
If I can help you attain more happiness and balance during 2014, please call to schedule an appointment today.
Best wishes for the New Year, Dr. McBride.