You would not be alone in feeling this way – one in six couples in Australia have difficulty conceiving. However, there are ways to help minimise stress around Christmas time. Here is a selection of practical tips:
Take care of yourself
- Give yourself a break: Take time out from thinking about fertility or trying to fall pregnant. For example, tell yourself: “I am going to have xx weeks/months off thinking about my fertility.”
- Refocus your mind and energy during this time: For example, start a hobby, plan a DIY project, or enjoy a bushwalk.
- Make time to relax: This may include going to the beach, being pampered with a massage or beauty treatment, reading a book, going to the movies or theatre, watching a sunset, simply having a cup of tea in the garden and listening to nature.
- Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish: If you need time away from the hectic nature of the season, allow yourself to take it.
- Minimise your stress levels naturally: Make it a priority to have enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
- Don’t pretend nothing is wrong: Share with your partner or a close friend how you are feeling. With support, you will find it easier to minimise stress.
- Start a tradition: Do something different on Christmas Day, such as going to the beach or for a picnic.
- Look out for others as well as yourself: Be sensitive to others who might also be feeling vulnerable at this time of year. Sometimes, helping others can help you forget about your own concerns for a while. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, nursing home or homeless shelter, or donating presents to charity Christmas appeals.
- Reach out: Acknowledging your feelings and asking for help if you need it is the first step in taking control of your situation. Specially trained, experienced fertility counsellors can offer support.
- Plan ahead: Before social occasions, make a “game plan” – think or talk about what to expect and set some boundaries for yourself.
- Be ready to respond to questions: Think through some common questions from friends and extended family about your fertility and plan your response. You don’t need to give details; a simple “No, we don’t have any children” is fine.
- Be selective with the invitations you accept: You don’t have to attend every party or get-together. If you feel the need to, avoid events with lots of kids or pregnant women attending, until you feel up to it.
- Get together before Christmas Day: If you need to, perhaps plan to see family or friends a week or two earlier so they know you care about them. This will leave you free to spend Christmas Day quietly if you so desire.
- Realise that others may not understand your situation: If required, refer to your situation briefly and ask that others support you by respecting your choices when, for example, you decide not to attend an event.
- Avoid busy periods at shopping centres: Families, children and Santas abound at these times, so perhaps consider shopping online for gifts or groceries if it helps.
A few tips for your family and friends:
- Don’t feel rejected if your family member or friend is unable to attend a certain event or Christmas celebration. Let them know you would like to see them when they feel up to it.
- Don’t feel that you need to “fix” things. Just being there to support them will be comforting.
- Perhaps send a card letting them know you are thinking of them. Acknowledge privately that this must be a difficult time rather than pretending nothing is wrong.
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