The festive season is full of social gatherings, children getting excited about Santa Claus, gift giving and Christmas events.
But if you are experiencing fertility problems you may sometimes feel isolated.
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 get 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: e.g. start a hobby, plan a DIY project, go bushwalking.
- Make time to relax: e.g. go to the beach, book a massage or beauty treatment, read a book, go to the movies or theatre, watch the sunset, have a cup of tea in the garden and listen to nature and just breathe.
- Don’t be afraid to be a little selfish: if you need time away from the busyness of the season, allow yourself to take it.
- Minimise your stress levels naturally: make it a priority to get enough sleep, exercise 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.
- Create a new 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.
- Seek help if you need it: acknowledging your feelings and asking for help if you need it is the first step in taking control of your situation. Specially trained fertility counsellors can offer experience and 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 the day quietly if you so desire.
- Realise that others may not understand your situation: if required, refer to it briefly and ask that others support you by respecting your choices, e.g. if you decide not to attend an event etc.
- Avoid busy times at shopping centres: where families, children and Santas abound. Maybe 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.