“I don’t know if I can go on.”
We hear these words a lot at Pulling Down the Moon. And in a year like the one we’re having, these words take on added weight. We’re tired, we’re burnt out and it feels like we’ve used our last drop of mojo just to survive this pandemic…let alone another cycle.
But you can go on. In fact, you can not only move forward, you can move forward with purpose and strength because you are more resilient than you know. And, resilience is something that can be shored up with some simple steps.
Six Steps to Resilience:
- Allow yourself to be truthful about what you are experiencing and feeling.
Find a place where you can truly and authentically download what you’re going through. One of the biggest ways we become resilient is by combating the tendency to hold on to our negative thoughts and feelings. Seeing yourself reflected in compassionate eyes begins to heal the self-blame and anger that comes with fertility challenges.
- Nourish yourself with healthy food.
Food not only fuels your body, it impacts your ability to handle stressful situations. Diet impacts brain chemistry in specific ways. Lean protein and complex carbohydrates balance blood sugar and help us maintain emotional balance and healthy fats provide the chemical backbone of mood-managing neurotransmitters. Adding an omega-3 supplement and/or probiotics have also been shown to prevent depression and anxiety.
- Get your Zzzzz’s
Give yourself the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and not in need of caffeine, sugar or other stimulants. Researchers have known for years that shift work (working nights or rotating day/night shifts) is associated with depression, obesity, breast cancer, menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage and pre-term birth. There is evidence that melatonin, our sleep/wake hormone, impacts the ability of the uterus to receive an embryo. The fast pace of modern life has put everyone at risk of chronic sleep deprivation.
- Stretch and breathe.
Yoga is also the ultimate practice of resilience – we use the poses to bend, but do not break; we hold them with strength. Yoga reduces stress and anxiety and teaches us how to release muscular tension in our body, improve blood flow and lower stress hormones. Yoga works directly on the vagus nerve, stimulating our body’s rest/digest/nest processes that are the physical equivalent to resilience. Through yoga, your body can begin to relax and to heal. Once your body allows itself to relax, your mind will follow. Try our Yoga for Fertility Series starting on Sept 12th or drop-in for our weekly Wellness Wednesday classes starting Sept 15th!
- Stay sexy.
Fertility troubles can often take the spice out of an otherwise normal sex life. Exercise regularly so you feel strong and shapely. Splurge on a new nightie that emphasizes your curves and makes you feel like a sex kitten. Make an aphrodisiac meal that you can share by candlelight with your lover. Sex helps you release tension and rekindle the closeness you might be missing as you and your partner work through your challenges.
- Lighten your load and begin to let go.
Resilience is about discovering what you need to shed. In my 19 years at Pulling Down the Moon, during many of which I was working on my own fertility journey, I have seen that we all wear some negative emotion or belief like a shell. We believe our shell gives us form and shape, and fear that if we release this deeply held belief we will no longer be the same. The shell can be made of many different things – grief, fear, blame, anger. We believe that if we work hard enough and are a good enough person, we will get what we want. Some of us believe our fertility defines us. Resilience is the ability to begin to address these questions and fears, rather than allow them to shape our world. Once we let go, we begin to come out of our shell and take the form in life that reflects our potential. Infertility is a painful process, but one that can allow for immense liberty and personal growth. Don’t be afraid to bend. You will not break!
At Pulling Down the Moon our personalized, holistic approach helps you find the tools to build resilience in body, mind, and spirit. Have questions about how we can help? Contact us at email@example.com today!
by Alece Demaray, RYT 500 + CPYT
New Year’s goal setting is tough when your goal (BABY!) is not in your control. No matter the timeline you allot yourself or how hard you work to make it happen, it may or may not come to fruition. As a goal driven woman, that is heartbreaking to accept.
I like to work toward things and celebrate when I achieve them. When trying to conceive, I started to do everything that was in my control…see a reputable Reproductive Endocrinologist, adjust lifestyle factors, modify my diet, take proper supplements and get weekly acupuncture. I adopted a mood of empowerment, to make my healthiest self to prepare for conception. I am still upkeeping the changes…and I am still trying to conceive.
I am currently on clomid in prep for IUI #3. As I started a new cycle, it struck me that my emotions have developed a unique cycle of their own:
Cycle Day 1-3: Depressed because I am not pregnant
Cycle Day 3- 7 : Swallowing down clomid with a dose of forced optimism. Emotions run wild.
Cycle Day 8-14: Anxious anticipation to see how I responded to the meds and when the IUI will be scheduled
Cycle Day 14- 24: A mix of hope and positive thinking swells the majority of the two week wait
Cycle Day 24-28: The last few days of the two week wait brew anxiety and negative thinking, as if I already received a negative pregnancy test result
Cycle Day 28 – Upset and mad at the negative result of the pregnancy test.
The yoyo of emotions is real and it is tiring. I want to be hopeful and believe it is possible, but being pulled to the other end of the spectrum becomes more painful, feeling like a positive pregnancy test is the impossible dream. I began to think…How can I learn to ride this fertility roller coaster better? Sure, there are some unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, but can I learn to EXPECT those challenges and manage my energy BETTER around them?
My new goal is to strive for balance regardless of the cycle phase. Remain present for all that is coming up for me emotionally and physically, but not allowing it to throw me. I will root down and rest into the truth that I WILL BE OKAY, regardless of the outcome. It is a PRACTICE and everyday an opportunity to try the ride again, inviting more ease.
Here are some suggestions and inquiries to support you in remaining cool, calm and collected, regardless of what cycle day it is for you and your emotions:
- Schedule some space directly after your appointments. Use this time to journal and process what things in your life ARE going right. Gratitude journaling can help to reframe your perspective and shift your mood in a positive direction for the rest of your day.
- Take 3 deep, calming breaths before opening the message from your doctor.
- Remain aware and nonjudgmental of your emotions as they fluctuate with medication. Be kind to yourself and thank close ones around you for understanding 🙂
- At the beginning of your two week wait, remain active with safe exercise (yoga!) to keep your mind at ease.
- Prior to your pregnancy test, affirm to yourself (at least) 3 times that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome. You are loved, regardless of the outcome. You are worthy, regardless of the outcome. Try an Unwind the Mind Massage to get through the wait!
- Post pregnancy test, allow yourself to process: do you need to cry, scream, call someone or celebrate? Allow yourself adequate time to digest the information as opposed to rushing off to the rest of your day, without dealing with your feelings.
- Give yourself permission to begin again (mentally) at the start of your new cycle. Reignite the flame of possibility and reaffirm to yourself that YOU ARE CAPABLE AND WHOLE.
If you would like to practice riding the roller coaster together, join me for Yoga For Fertility at Pulling Down The Moon, on Wednesdays evenings. In addition to managing emotions and digesting experiences, YFF will increase blood flow to optimize your fertility. To find more balance on this path, call Pulling Down the Moon to get started in March at: 312.321.0004. I hope to see you on the mat!
by Christina Thompson Olson RYT RPYT
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? But if the onslaught of holiday parties, shopping, and family gatherings has you feeling a bit stressed out, you’re not alone. How many more times is Aunt Ginny going to ask when you’ll be having a baby? Before you snap or find yourself making up stories to distract from your fertility situation, try these simple yoga techniques to stay grounded and let all that chatter melt away.
Get into your breath
Before reacting to someone or something, check in with your breathing and see if you can allow it to slow down. Try Samavritti pranayama, or equal breath to help calm your mind and relax your body. Start by bringing your attention to the tip of your nose, inhaling and exhaling through your nose if comfortable. Notice the length of your inhale and exhale, and work towards equal breathing by silently counting to four on your inhale and exhale: “In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4”. Let your breath move deeply through your abdomen, expanding your diaphragm as you inhale and gently drawing in as you exhale, working towards twelve rounds of breath.
Gently move your body
Try some easy yoga poses to relieve stress, even if you’re in the restroom at a holiday party! One of my favorite moves to ease tension in the mind and body is the forward fold, which can be done in a variety of ways. Try a halfway forward fold or L-shape, walking your hands down a wall (or on a countertop) as you take your feet hip-width distance and create an L-shape with your body. Take 4-5 deep breaths to relax your shoulders, lengthen your spine, and send your sitting bones back evenly behind you. Then take your feet wider and find a dynamic squat-forward fold by bending your knees as you exhale and returning to the forward fold with an inhale for another five rounds of breath.
From this wide leg forward fold, with hands either supported by a wall or on blocks, take a gentle open twist by bringing your left hand under your face and lifting your right hand up towards the sky, or to your right hip. Breathe deeply for several rounds of breath to gently massage your digestive organs in this twist, and then repeat on your left side. Take one more symmetrical forward fold of your choice, coming up slowly when you’re finished, and hopefully you’ll return to your holiday season feeling a bit more at ease in your body.
by Chrissy Langford LMT
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton
Drawing and painting has been a form of therapy for me since I was a child. It was a way to escape, a way to calm my mind and spirit and a way to express myself when I couldn’t find the words to do so. I could spend hours just lost in a creative zone.
After every Unwind the Mind session, I tell my clients to make sure they are practicing their favorite relaxation techniques at home to ease stress and anxiety post massage during the 2 week wait. The two week wait can be a time where anxiety levels are high and emotions are heightened. It’s important to take time for self-care and relaxation.
Creative art therapy can help one reduce stress, improve self-esteem, explore emotions hard to explain with words, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with a difficult or traumatic life event. It is known to calm the nervous system. It can create a quiet and meditative state of mind.
I like to use art as a form of meditation. After a long day and usually right before bed, I will take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises and then get to doodling. I put on some music and light candles and incense to set a vibe. Sometimes I just sit in silence and really check in from within. I try not to think about what I am drawing/painting and I just let my mind/pencil/paintbrush just flow. The art I produce in these moments is for no one but myself to see so there is no fear of judgement. I use colors that fit my mood in the moment. Blues and greens can be calming and healing. Reds can stimulate energy and passion. Yellows and oranges are bright and radiate warmth. I love drawing eyes and lips, leaves and flowers, different patterns and random shapes. At the end, I often am left feeling lighter and free of whatever was hanging over me that day.
Again, you don’t have to be an artist to use art as a way to unwind. Try picking up an adult coloring book, doing a collage, origami, beadwork, knitting, embroidery, vision boards and even dance. All are great ways to just let go and quiet the mind. You can also keep an art journal using collage and doodles as a form of self-expression when words are not easy to come by.
Join us for a FREE experiential event in Chicago to unwind and learn more about the benefits of Fertility Enhancing Massage for your journey! Save your spot today for Creative Expression to Unwind the Mind on Thursday, November 14th at 7pm here!
Here are some great articles and blog posts about using art as a form of meditation and to reduce stress:
If you would like to find a professional art therapist or dig deeper into what art therapy is:
10 Minute Mindfulness Drawing Meditation Tutorial you can easily do at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kcAFq7C_CA
Essential oils wonderfully enhance the spa-like experience during your acupuncture treatment. At Pulling Down the Moon we offer this additional option to our acupuncture patients. Different essential oils can be used to treat different ailments. One amazing oil is Bergamot, and I love to use it in the office on my patients. It is helpful in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to regulate the qi flow, which means it keeps the energy flowing in our bodies and minds smoothly and evenly. It is a great mood balancer for that reason. So, if your anxiety is high and you cannot seem to ground yourself using Bergamot oil will help to calm you down. If you are feeling low and depressed, it also has the ability to bring you up and help lift your spirit when you are down. It works wonders for your emotional state during the holidays and is especially useful during this season!Another oil I use to help alleviate mental tension and has a nice Christmas time scent is Peppermint essential oil. Dabbing a small drop of these oils behind the ears or at certain stress points on the body can help achieve its therapeutic effect. If a patient prefer not to wear the oil, they can take a few deep inhalations of it instead. At Pulling Down the Moon we also use specific essential oils for each phase of the menstrual cycle when trying to conceive, whether naturally or throughout a medicated fertility treatment cycle. The first phase oil is called Activate The Blood & Qi, it is meant to be used during the period. It helps detox the body by riding toxins through the shedding of the uterine lining. The second phase oil is called Nourish the Sea of Blood, it is meant to be used after the period has ended to leading up to ovulation. It helps with building the lining back up and with enhancing the quality of the developing egg/s. The third phase oil is called Lift Spirit and is meant to be used at ovulation time. It helps ensure ovulation occur. The fourth phase oil is Nourish Yin & Blood, it is used after ovulation has occurred up until the period begins (it is one of our oils used during pregnancy). This oil helps strengthen the quality of the luteal phase of the cycle, bettering the chances of implantation of an embryo where conception is the goal. The oils are safe and indicated during trying to conceive and during pregnancy when used in the correct manner as done by our experienced acupuncturists.* Another way of reaping the benefits of the oils without having to wear them is using them in an essential oil diffuser if you are concerned at all about placing them directly on the body. Of course, if our acupuncture patient requests no use of oil we respect that. Any oil used during your treatment can help boost the healing you get from the acupuncture itself.For further information or any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and to schedule an appointment for Acupuncture or any or our holistic health services, please call our office 312-321-0004. To purchase any of our fabulous oils please visit our offices in Chicago or Highland Park and/or our online store, including the Fertility Wellness Sampler (including Activate, both Nourish oils, Lift Spirit). Learn more at our FREE in-center Chicago event “Essential Oils for Love and Fertility” on Feb 4th!
by Christine Davis, LAc MSOM
With each passing year, things seem to get busier. More appointments, more work requirements, more life events, more things to do. Then there’s the well meaning family members and friends: why aren’t you pregnant yet? My friend tried This Thing and it worked for her, so you you should try it, too! Then there’s social media and the internet: EVERYONE seems to be happier and more successful than you – here’s what you SHOULD be doing to do to be happy ALL THE TIME. It’s all a never ending stream of NOISE. Where does it stop? How can you simmer down and quiet the stream of mental debris that constantly stimulates worry, fear, anxiety, and frustration?
Here are my suggestions. They aren’t a complete list, but these are the important ones. It may take time to incorporate them all:
- Say it with me: “No.” “I’m sorry, I’m not available.” It’s ok to put yourself first and say “no” when what is being asked of you will compromise your wellness. Clear a path for your ability to think clearly, breathe, and do the things you need to do to feel balanced. Much like Marie Kondo’s method for clearing physical clutter, you need to decide what’s important in your life mentally and emotionally. Say YES to the things that create the life you want (even though they may be difficult, too, sometimes) and NO to the things that are holding you back from that life.
- Disconnect. Social media has been fun over the past couple of decades, right? There are some good and some (really) bad parts, but study after study emerges showing the negative impact that it can have on your mental and emotional state. If you are having trouble completely disconnecting – especially if work or other interests require you to connect with SM – limit your interactions with these apps/websites. Give yourself a specific time frame in which you allow yourself to use them in a positive, uplifting manner.
- Get help. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional if you need help with mental wellness. This could be a mental health professional, a religious guide, etc. Someone who you trust, who is impartial, who has training in helping to guide you is ideal. This doesn’t mean you are signing up forever – sometimes a few sessions can really help to clarify and ground you. I feel like the best therapists are the ones who hold a “mirror” up, so to speak, so that you can see things as they are, then help you to appreciate the beauty that you see.
- Center yourself. This could be with meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, long walks by the lake – whatever helps you to focus on one, two, or ten things–instead of the thousands of thoughts that are constantly flooding in otherwise. I like to think of Georgia O’Keefe’s “Sky Above Clouds” painting – the thoughts are just clouds floating past. Try not to hang on to them and instead just observe them and let them float past. There are some amazing smartphone apps: FertiCalm and FertiStrong, Insight Timer, MindfulIVF, Headspace, etc. that have tons of guided meditations for everything from general anxiety to trouble sleeping to going through an IVF cycle.
- Find gratitude. Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps with this. Write just a line or two each day about something you are grateful for. It could be the delicious muffin you had for breakfast, the painless phlebotomist experience, your favorite song coming on the radio, the friend who went out of her way to give you the support you needed. Many studies have shown that focusing on the positive aspects of life actively literally rewires the brain to feel happier and more positive.
- Try Acupuncture. A modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. With regular (once or twice per week, usually) treatment, you will see many aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional self come into balance. Acupuncture is known to be helpful for everything from pain to allergies to digestive stuff to fertility, but it can also be helpful for balancing the mental state and emotions.
Firstly, an acupuncture visit is usually very relaxing! Most who haven’t tried it don’t believe me when I say that, but when else do you take 30 min to just lie still, no phone, not going to sleep (although it’s ok if you do!), not talking or listening (except to quiet music)? This is a deeply restorative time to be quiet, soft, grounded.
Acupuncture has mounting scientific evidence showing that regular treatment can help with reducing anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. In TCM, there is a strong connection between the physical state and the emotional state. By creating a state of harmony throughout the physical body, balanced mental/emotional wellness is the natural outcome.
In TCM, fertility is associated with the element of Water. When water is too abundant or too scarce, the earth and all forms of life suffer, including our own bodies. The element of Water shows its emotional imbalance in the form of Fear/Anxiety. When we are in a constant state of stress (life, work, family, infertility, etc), we put ourselves into a constant state of “fight or flight.” This creates a situation in which our bodies focus only on staying alive for the moment rather than long cycles like those required for fertility. By using acupuncture, we are able to break that constant loop of stress, find grounding, and reconnect with our natural cycles which can lead to improved fertility.
Choosing to find serenity in this life takes effort. Just think about when someone says, “Calm down!” or “Relax!” Has anyone ever calmed down or relaxed just by hearing that? I don’t think so. By regularly making the choice to build the space for quiet, for reflection, for balance, you are creating a foundation for the life you are searching for.
by Kellie Stryker MSW LCSW
According to reproductivefacts.org, “Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The long term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples.”
Kristin L. Rooney, BA and Alice D. Domar, PhD with Boston IVF wrote: “Infertility is often a silent struggle. Patients who are struggling to conceive report feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control. Depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.1 It is estimated that 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Despite the prevalence of infertility, the majority of infertile women do not share their story with family or friends, thus increasing their psychological vulnerability. The inability to reproduce naturally can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life.”
It’s normal to experience times of stress throughout the infertility process. However, it becomes a cause of concern when the feelings become persistent or prolonged.
According to reproductivefacts.org, if you experience the following symptoms for a prolonged of time, you may benefit from meeting with a mental health professional.
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Depression that doesn’t lift
- Strained relationships
- Social isolation
- Thoughts that are consumed by infertility
- High levels of anxiety
- Diminished ability to concentrate or accomplish tasks
- Change in your sleep patterns, appetite or weight
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Persistent feelings of pessimism, guilt, bitterness, anger or worthlessness
- Thoughts about death or suicide
Help Is Out There
The following resources are dedicated to helping you improve your Reproductive Mental Health:
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association – RESOLVE provides free support groups in more than 200 communities; is the leading patient advocacy voice; and serves as the go-to organization for anyone challenged in their family building.
- ASRM : American Society for Reproductive Medicine – ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. The Society accomplishes its mission through the pursuit of excellence in education and research and through advocacy on behalf of patients, physicians, and affiliated health care providers. The Society is committed to facilitating and sponsoring educational activities for the lay public and continuing medical education activities for professionals who are engaged in the practice of and research in reproductive medicine.
- Pulling Down The Moon – Holistic care for family health and fertility should be highly personal, compassionate, and customized to meet the unique needs and complex challenges of each patient. Founded in 2002, Pulling Down the Moon recognizes the stress and emotional turmoil and fatigue that can come with infertility as well as your day to day health.
- Shine Fertility – Shine supports women through mentorship, community and education. We empower women by encouraging a proactive approach to fertility health and fertility preservation.
Taking Care of You
It’s ok to be sad, frustrated, angry, resentful, bitter and whatever emotions you may be feeling at this very moment. You are allowed to feel all of the above and more. Sit with it. Don’t force yourself to put on a brave face when you are going through unimaginable pain. However, when you are ready, allow yourself to work through the emotions you are experiencing.
Georgia Witkin, Ph.D with Progyny wrote: “You may not have control over the physical effects of fertility treatment, but you can take control over many of the psychological effects. What you think and what you do shapes what you feel, so choose thoughts and behaviors that reinforce your sense of control.”
Kellie Stryker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owner of Rain to Rainbow Counseling. Kellie has over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. Kellie currently lives in Crystal Lake, IL with her husband and 1 yr old daughter who was conceived through infertility treatments. Kellie’s mission as a Reproductive Mental Health Counselor is to provide support to others as they navigate through their infertility journey.
Rain to Rainbow Counseling offers supportive services which are focused on all aspects of Reproductive Mental Health which include infertility, grief, loss, miscarriage, stress management, adoption and pregnancy counseling. Rain to Rainbow Counseling is currently in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL and Optum United Health Care. In Person and Online Telehealth Sessions are available.
Benefits of Online Telehealth:
- Confidential: Rain to Rainbow Counseling uses Simple Practice, a secure and HIPAA compliant program.
- Online Client Portal: No software to download. Private login and password for each client.
- Same benefits and techniques: Only difference is we see each other on screen instead of in person.
- Convenience: Can literally be done from when and wherever you are comfortable.
By Cathy McCauley, LMT
You’ve received the results – you are pregnant! Take a deep breath. It may have been a long road to get to where you are now.
Pregnancy is an exciting time, and you’re probably feeling a mixed bag of emotions. Maybe you have concerns or stress. These feelings are normal as changes occur in your life and in your body. However normal, it is important to find healthy ways to deal with feelings, emotions and stress during pregnancy.
Chronic stress during pregnancy can impact you and your baby as more blood is sent to the extremities rather than to the internal organs as a result of the “fight or flight” response. With blood being sent to other areas over the internal organs, stress can compromise blood flow to the baby, perhaps by as much as 65%. This may result in lower fetal heart rate and blood oxygenation (Gorsuch and Key 1974 as cited in Osborne 2012).
Massage for Health
One way you can improve your health and well-being during pregnancy is to receive regular prenatal massage. While multiple sessions can have a greater effect on improving pain and lowering anxiety and depression, even one massage session can offer benefits (Moyer et al 2004 as cited in Osborne 2012). The Unwind the Mind Massage is safe and supportive from transfer through the first trimester at 14 weeks, the Prenatal Massage can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy, and the Postpartum Massage after delivery whenever you feel comfortable or are cleared by your doctor.
Safe, therapeutic touch provides you with deep levels of relaxation that signal your parasympathetic nervous system creating physiological balance, steadier blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rates; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus; and healthier immune system functioning, emotional states, and responses to stressful stimuli (Nichols and Humenick 2000 as cited in Osborne 2012). This is good news for you and your baby.
In addition to the therapeutic touch, evidence shows that having a strong support system may reduce pregnancy complications. A study of several hundred pregnant women who had difficult life changes in the two years immediately preceding and/or during their pregnancy found that those who also had strong support systems had one-third the complications of those who experienced similar stresses without a support system (Nuckols et al. 1972; Hobel and Colhane 2003 as cited in Osborne 2012).
Pulling Down the Moon wants to help support you through your pregnancy. Whether choosing prenatal massage, nutrition, acupuncture, or one of our community events; we offer nurturing care for you during this exciting and stressful time of transitions. Our partner, CocoonCare can support your prenatal/postnatal fitness, health coaching, and informative workshop needs!
Take time to relax and celebrate with a massage today! Cathy is available in Highland Park on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, as well as, Buffalo Grove on Tuesdays! Enjoy savings with our package options throughout your journey!
Osborne C. Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy, A Comprehensive Guide to Prenatal, Labor and Postpartum Practice. 2nd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.
By Alece Demaray RYT
I consider myself an optimist and a person who is capable of staying grounded through the whirlwind of life. This is generally speaking, because being positive is a practice and life is always willing to test you.
When I started to see a specialist on my fertility journey, I became quickly overwhelmed at the amount of appointments I had to fit into my already full schedule. Thankfully most of the appointments could be completed early in the morning prior to work, but the early wake ups, finding parking and long days started to wear on me. In addition, I was feeling stressed at trying to plan ahead of what cycle days I would have to go in, so I could plot my schedule/travel around my new commitment. I became agitated and overwhelmed. NOT what you want when trying to conceive.
Once I got in the routine of the appointments and how they fit in my life, I started to appreciate them more. For one, I am so lucky to live in a place where this top-notch care and specialty exists. I also began to feel very grounded around my early morning appointments because of what I was doing after them. After each appointment I would carve out some time go to get some breakfast prior to moving into the rest of the day. While nourishing, I would reflect on the good, what I was grateful for… the level of care I was able to access, my supportive partner, my flexible work schedule, the warm food in front of me. I would write around 5 things and often that act of writing 5 things stimulated more words to flow. I found that my ritual would leave me feeling calmer and connected to myself. It prepared me to take on the day ahead with a renewed sense of vigor.
It can be difficult to find the good when you are feeling down, but I assure you- it is always there. There is always something to express gratitude for, even if only the shoes on your feet or a snuggle with your pup. Finding gratitude has a myriad of benefits including improved sleep and fostering a greater sense of contentment. A study carried out by Emmons & McCullough in 2003, also confirmed that people who practiced gratitude daily exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical aches and pains, felt more connected to others and were more optimistic, thus improving their ability to make progress towards their goals.
Gratitude has a way of slowing you down and filtering your view of life, allowing you to see the rosy hues. They are there, BUT it takes some reprogramming of the brain to recognize them BEFORE you see the dark tones. Believe it or not, we are programmed to find the threat in things first. This stems from way back, when humans were being chased by lions and tiger and bears (oh my) and had to defend themselves to survive! Thankfully we do not need to operate that way, but our mind is still programmed to scan our environment for what is wrong, what is threatening us. As a result, we can see “threats” in people that we don’t like, jobs that over-stress us and get caught up in drama, losing sight of the bigger picture.
There is good news. We can take conscious action to retrain the way our mind works. We can flip our attention to see the good. To notice the sun before the feeling the humidity, to savor the doughnut before counting the calories, to admire your accomplishments before obsessing over what is left to do.
So how can you make the shift? It is easier than you think, but it takes a daily commitment that you are more than capable of doing. Get a notebook and spend 5 minutes every day to jot down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. That is it! Commit to your gratitude journal for 30 days and then check in. Do you enjoy it? Have you noticed any shifts in your mood, relationships and life? Good things, abundance and high vibes attract more good things, more abundance and higher vibes. It’s time to put on your rose-colored glasses, so you can see and experience the beauty around you, your life. So, start now. What are you grateful for today?
If this conversation lights you or if this conversation agitates you, let’s talk about it! I will be at Pulling Down the Moon for two FREE events this summer and will kick off a Yoga For Fertility series in August. Dates are included below. I hope to meet you soon… and in the meantime, stay grateful, bask in the sun and taste the sweetness of the season. Soak up the goodness that life serves daily.
- Go Prana Go: 8/24 @ 10am, FREE –> Space is limited. Register here to save your spot!
- Yoga For Fertility Series: Join the current series on Sundays at 11:30am with rolling enrollment through September 22nd and then the next series starts on Tuesday, September 24th at 7pm –> Register via MBO here.
Questions? Let us help at: 312-321-0004!
The anticipation, anxiety, the loss of control and not knowing what to expect can be especially difficult during the “two-week wait.” The two-week wait – between ovulation and when your next cycle is due to start – can feel as if you are in limbo as there is no way to tell if you’re pregnant.
You may find yourself watching for signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Each twinge in your belly, tenderness in your breasts and feeling of fatigue, asking yourself, “Does this mean I’m pregnant? Or am I getting my period?”
The questions, the “what if’s,” the TIME all feels endless and one seems to build upon the other until what you’re left with is a gigantic ball of anxiety and feeling a loss of control.
What if instead of “getting through” the two-week wait, we were intentional and mindful of nurturing ourselves by creating a plan? This holistic guide to self-care will provide you with a plan for nurturing yourself in four areas: physical, social, emotional and spiritual.
Sleep is not only necessary and restorative for our bodies, it also allows us to cope with our feelings of anxiety and overwhelm in a more manageable way. If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep, here are a few helpful tips:
- Keep a journal or notepad next to your bed and write down the thoughts, worries or items on your ‘to-do’ list. Say to yourself, “This will be here for me if/when I need it.” Sometimes the act of writing something down allows for a cathartic release of whatever we’re feeling preoccupied with.
- Listen to a guided meditation app before bed to relax into sleep and take your mind off of the two-week wait. Bonus: the more you practice, the more this cues your body and mind that it’s time to sleep.
Gentle exercise such as planning a walk to a scenic place, a lake or forest preserve. Getting outside can have a calming, centering effect while you are present in nature. Try Yoga for Fertility poses on your own or building community through practice with others. Schedule an Unwind the Mind Massage, “This session was created to be a safe oasis from post-ovulation stress, boosting immune and endocrine function, while supporting a potential pregnancy.” (Pulling Down the Moon, Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM)
- Plan a social outing with your partner or friends. Socializing provides an outlet for connection as well as a distraction from the thoughts and feelings you maybe preoccupied with. And, it’s fun! What activities do you enjoy doing? Want to try something new? Try being intentional about planning enjoyable activities, especially during the two-week wait.
- Create a list of friends, family members or supports you can reach out to check in with during the two-week wait. Is there a fellow member of your support group, a friend or family member who has an understanding of what you’re going through? Who acts as a sounding board, offers encouragement or provides a fun distraction? Write these supports down so that when you’re feeling especially alone or overwhelmed during your journey you have a few go-to people you feel safe reaching out to.
- Mantras can have a powerful and empowering impact. Choose a word or short phrase you would like to be the focus during your two-week wait. How would you like to feel and respond to yourself and others? Write the mantra on a post-it note or schedule it as a daily event on your phone to be reminded of your intention.
Nurture ~ Empower ~ Peace ~ Joy ~ Warrior
- Practicing meditation & mindfulness “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment… Being present is the most powerful place to be.” Thich Nhat Hanh. Bringing your attention back to the present moment can help decrease feelings of anxiety and increase self-awareness. New to meditation? Try a guided meditation app. There are guided meditations specific to fertility, sleep, anxiety and grief that you may find especially helpful in starting or ending your day.
In summary, while creating a plan doesn’t take away the uncertainty, it may allow you to feel a sense of control with how you choose to meet this part of your fertility journey. Creating a plan for the two-week can be a nurturing way to care for yourself during a time when your thoughts and feelings may be overwhelming. Take this time to connect with yourself, your partner and those you enjoy spending time with who play a supportive role in your journey.
- Yoga for Fertility – https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/services/yoga-classes/
- Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM) – https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/services/therapeutic-massage/
- Meditation Apps:
- Calm – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/calm-com/id571800810?ls=1
- Insight Timer – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zen-timer-meditation-timer/id337472899
- Meditation Studio: Fertility Collection – https://www.meditationstudioapp.com/fertility
- Fertility Mantras & Positive Affirmations – https://fertility-news.rmact.com/path-to-fertility-blog/infertility-mantras-fertility-mantras-your-choice
Emily Heilman is the founder of Flourish Counseling & Wellness. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Perinatal Mental Health specialist (PMH-C), she specializes in perinatal mental health and wellness, supporting women and their families navigate their fertility journey, the pregnancy and postpartum period, and throughout motherhood. Her experience in the field of women’s and perinatal mental health spans the past 13 years where she has worked in community mental health, hospital settings and private practice. Emily offices are located in the Chicago Loop & Oak Park. To learn more, visit: https://flourishcounselingltd.com/
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