We’ve all heard it. Stop Stressing. Just Relax. Take a Holiday.
People with infertility have heard it all. But what happens when we tell someone with infertility to stop stressing?
The answer is, it makes it worse.
The stress of infertility has been shown to be comparable to the stress a women experiences when she has a cancer diagnosis, heart disease or AIDS. It’s a considerable amount of stress.
AND nobody with infertility wishes to be stressed, and they are no doubt acutely aware that stress is not beneficial to them, but to tell someone with infertility to stop stressing is like telling a fish to stop swimming. It isn’t going to happen.
There is a concept called amplification, which comes about when we perceive emotions as negative, and therefore might feel guilty or shamed for having them, and in our desperation to make ourselves feel better and try to stop experiencing these emotions, we bury them to the side without fully exploring them, instead of exploring them and accepting them, and end up amplifying those feelings and making them worse.
So then what? Well, it’s all about getting better at understanding, accepting and managing stress NOT ‘stopping stressing’.
And what can friends and family do?
Below are five things loved ones can do to help loved ones cope with the stress of infertility and #flipthescript from saying “just relax” to engaging in more positive actions and words:
Don’t give your advice.
Fertility warriors are notorious for researching and studying and no doubt heard all the tales out there about people who miraculously fell pregnant, ways to fall pregnant and things to try. So please be there to support them, but don’t offer advice. They don’t want it.
Please stop talking about your children.
Regardless of whether you talk about them in a positive or negative light, it’s not helpful, and it just serves as another reminder of what they can’t have. And yes, they would give their right arm for tantrums, sleepless nights and poop explosions.
Don’t ask too many questions.
It can be really fascinating (and confusing), but it can also be downright awkward to talk about fertility treatments, as some of it can be fairly graphic, and inevitably the conversation leads to what date your loved one will find out whether their cycle has been successful or not. But that’s something they might like to keep private. So although it shows you care, and they appreciate you trying to understand and asking, it can also lead to awkward moments when people don’t wish to discuss results and the intricate details of their cycle with you.
Buy a Gift.
There are some wonderful things that you can buy a loved one with infertility, that can help them manage their stress, and also help you show them that you care. You can refer to this post with a list of gifts, but some really nice things to buy that help are warm socks, nice PJ’s and anything pineapple.
Isn’t food a wonderful ice breaker and way to show someone that you care without having to use words. It’s almost like a universal language of love and can bring great comfort in any stressful life situation.
So, this year, let’s stop telling people to stop stressing, just relax or take a holiday, and instead, take meaningful action, to help our loved ones cope with the intense emotional toll that infertility brings.