Guest Blog by Dusty Williams, licensed therapist, infertility counseling expert, and founder of Thrive (in)Fertility.
Say hello to your fight-or-flight stress response.
It’s a physiological reaction that occurs in our response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to our survival, resulting in our body giving us increased strength and speed in anticipation of fighting or running.
Our brain isn’t actually designed to make us happy—its primary purpose is to keep us alive.
The problem is, our brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat to our survival and a psychological one that we’ve created.
We no longer have to run from saber tooth tigers, but chronic psychological worries over money, who’s going to make the next pregnancy announcement, or the possibility of never having a child, all register as life threatening to our primitive brains and thus it reacts accordingly.
Being in this continuous state of fight-or-flight releases chemicals, which begin to break down our bodies and make us feel terrible.
6 IMPORTANT REASONS TO REDUCE STRESS WHILE TTC
- Feeling like an out-of-control, anxious mess is torturous. You deserve to feel better!
- Your mind racing with worse case scenarios can lead to severe anxiety and depression.
- Studies have shown that women who practice mind/body stress reduction techniques, in conjunction with medical treatment have significantly higher pregnancy rates than women who receive medical treatment alone.
- Some women are reproductively sensitive to chronic stress as it affects hormones, disrupts ovulation, and negatively affects pregnancy rates.
- Research shows the #1 reason patients prematurely dropout out of fertility treatment is because of emotional and marital distress.
- Your sex drive shuts off during the stress response, which turns trying to conceive into a pleasureless chore you only engage in when absolutely necessary, creating conflict with your partner.
Here’s the great news. It’s scientifically proven that you can hack your stress response ANYTIME YOU WANT by practicing one, simple skill – Meditation.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Many people hear the word meditation and visualize some incense burning, monk-like guru sitting cross-legged, chanting “oommmm.”
That’s fair. But meditation is simply a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, an object, visualization, an emotion, or the sensations within the body.
“Despite its PR problem, meditation is a simple, secular, scientifically validated exercise for your brain.”
– Dan Harris
The medical field has now fully embraced mediation, with hundreds upon hundreds of studies showing the long list of benefits it has for the brain and body, such as:
Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
Relieving muscle tension
POWERFUL BENEFITS OF MEDITATION:
- A Harvard study showed that short daily doses of meditation can grow the gray matter in key areas of your brain having to do with and compassion and emotional regulation, and literally shrink the gray matter in the area associated with stress.
- A study out of Yale showed evidence of meditation’s ability to train the brain to shut down the network that causes rumination about the past, projection into the future, and obsession about ourselves, not only during practice but also while not meditating.
- Harvard Medical School has found that people who practice eliciting the relaxation response have more disease-fighting genes switched “on” and active that protect against pain, infertility, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Who’s ready for all of this??
HOW TO START MEDITATING
There are many forms of meditation, but finding a guided meditation is the easiest way to get started.
All you have to do is set aside 5-10 minutes, press play, and allow the teacher to guide you through the exercise.
Believe me, there is no way to mess this up. Your mind will wander, but this is actually a good thing. The brain gets stronger every time you gently bring your focus back.
With just a few minutes a day you gain the superpower to remind your brain that you are safe and calm, despite external triggers raging around you. All the while, giving your body the physiological rest it needs for conception and pregnancy.
What I love so much about the guided Circle + Bloom Fertility Meditations is that they not only produce powerful stress reduction, but also tailor each series to the days of your cycle and treatment calendar. This helps you stay deeply connected to your body in a positive way and calmly grounds you in the present moment. You can check out all of their fertility and other wonderful programs here. Circle + Bloom’s free Healing & Recovery Program is also a must for anyone who is grieving a miscarriage.
There is so much we can’t control in the experience of infertility.
But I hope you’ll feel empowered now knowing you can easily take charge over your body’s stress response and stop anxiety in its tracks.
I know you can do it, and I know you will love it!
Dusty Williams, LMHC is a licensed therapist and the founder of Thrive (in)Fertility. She specializes in scientifically proven methods that reduce the emotional distress related to infertility and pregnancy loss. She counsels those at every stage of the fertility journey, teaching them how to regain control over their emotions, body, and relationships as they persevere toward their goal. Through her own personal fertility struggles and fight to overcome life threatening cancer, Dusty knows it’s possible to not only survive the pain of such traumatic events, but to actually thrive in the midst of them.
You can learn more about her services and read her educational blog here.