This is the time of the year when we start to think about the Christmas and New Year season, planning on seeing family and friends, and perhaps feeling anxious about how to get through it with relatives and well-meaning friends asking about your plans to have children, or if you are going to have a second child. Or you might be so much looking forward to seeing family and yet at the same time feeling anxious about potential pregnancy announcements, which might just throw your hard-acclaimed calm out of the window.
Shopping for gifts, attending party after party, and spending time with the people you love… it can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Balancing work, family, and household duties with holiday fun from Christmas to New Year’s Eve can be overwhelming, but don’t let the responsibilities of the season put a damper on your sense of joy. Take time to relax, destress, and focus on yourself so you can make the most of every magical moment.
KEEP UP HEALTHY HABITS
Make a pact with yourself during the holidays. For example, decide that you’ll move more and do something active every day over the next three weeks. Take it a step further, and pledge to start the day with a healthy breakfast, limit the sweets and get at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you don’t completely give up your healthy habits, you won’t feel like you have to start over once the holidays are over.
BEWARE OF SEASONAL SWEETS
The holidays often dish up extra helpings of less-than-healthy treats. Try preparing healthy snacks that are ready to eat when the urge to snack strikes. Protein balls are a great snack, or nut butter-filled dates. Dark chocolate is your friend over the festive period – more specifically, organic dark chocolate made of 70% or more raw cacao or cocoa content. This type of chocolate is far from a milk chocolate Hershey’s bar, which contains limited amounts of cacao.
GET SOME SLEEP
A quality night of sleep makes for a better tomorrow, and a more rested, happier you. Consistently getting a full night of sleep can help you think more clearly, reduce stress, and improve your mood, remain at a healthy weight and support you on your fertility journey. Sleep is crucial building block for your hormonal balance, so try to get all the rest you can over the holidays.
SAY “NO” IF YOU NEED TO
It’s easy to take on too much during the holiday season: getting everything done at work so you can enjoy a few days off, decorating the house, taking family pics, travelling to see family, or hosting out-of-town guests … the list can seem endless, but it’s OK to say no if you need to. Prioritize what’s most important to reduce extra stress, or delegate tasks to others if you can to take a little off your plate. If you feel uncomfortable meeting friends or relatives who are pregnant / have children, acknowledge your feelings and say “No” if that helps you.
All your feelings are valid and there’s no need to be ashamed of them. TTC is hard, and people who have not had to go through it don’t always understand the deep feelings it can stir in us. If you need space and time to acknowledge and let go of the feelings that rise, that is ok.
CARE FOR YOURSELF
Self-care is about more than taking a bubble bath and making sure you get your eight hours of sleep. It’s also about supporting your wellness from the inside. Eating a healthy diet is key, and you may want to add a few supplements to your routine to round out any nutritional gaps, support your immune health, and keep you feeling like your best self. Make sure you keep an eye on your protein intake as eating a good amount of protein each day will help you to feel fuller, and to avoid snacking too much on Christmas chocolates. Fill your plate with colourful vegetables, and especially those cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts that support your liver and your hormonal balance.
ENJOY THE OUTDOORS
Taking time for nature over the holidays will be greatly beneficial when trying to conceive. Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Whatever you call it – forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time or the wilderness cure – humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature. Savour the scenery. Wander in the wilderness. Meditate on the sounds of the forest. Do yoga in the sunshine. Pack a picnic. Look up in the sky. Sleep beneath the stars.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.
Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves. Sometimes we talk out loud, but usually we do it in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “everything will be OK”) or negative (“I’ll never get better” or “I’ll never get pregnant”). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk can help you calm down and manage stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. For example:
- Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
- Instead of saying, “I hate it when this happens,” say, “I know how to deal with this – I’ve done it before.”
- Instead of saying, “I feel helpless and alone,” say, “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
- Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I screwed up,” say, “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix it.”
- Instead of saying, “It’s wrong to feel like this,” say, ‘It’s normal to have these feelings, I acknowledge them and let them go”
- Instead of “I ate chocolate for lunch, now there’s no point eating healthy for the rest of the day/week’, say “I enjoyed chocolate for lunch, that’s ok, my next meal is my next chance to get more nutrients into my body”
To really make it work, practice positive self-talk every day – in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts.