Sometimes the best way to take the stress out of conception is to connect with others. We’re broadening our circle and talking with some of the leading personalities in the fertility field to gather tips, support, and insights on how to stay calm and conceive.
Helen Adrienne: The Three Most Important Strategies for Dealing with the Emotional Pain of Infertility
Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD, is the best-selling author of On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility. She has been a psychotherapist in general private practice since 1979 with a specialty in working with people dealing with infertility.
Helen uses her training in mind/body therapy and clinical hypnotherapy to provide powerful stress reduction strategies to individuals, couples and classes that she runs for NYU Fertility Center.
We asked her: If you could only give three tips or strategies for dealing with the emotional pain of infertility, what would they be?
Without question, the number one strategy for dealing with the emotional pain of infertility has a statistically significant correlation with rates of pregnancy!* Do I have your attention? It is the approach to coping that takes us under the turbulence created by stress. When we are stressed, our bodies walk the planet, but our minds fly off into outer space. Making a u-turn and coming back to our inner space matters!!
- The first way to get under the turbulence is to really, really recognize that our breath as a tranquilizer is not just a cliché. Right now, prove to yourself that you can sink down into your body with one—just one—long slow deep inhalation and luxurious exhalation. See what I mean? You can claim this respite any time you become aware of needing it.
- If one breath can take us under the turbulence, how can we prolong the positive impact on the body and mind of the breath as a tranquilizer, and by so doing break the spasm of stress? An easy way is with a guided visualization. There are many CDs on the market. Some are directly oriented around breathing and others distract us, allowing the breath to ungrip by taking us on a journey.
- Third, if you’re up for taking responsibility for holding your attention on the breath while preventing your mind from driving you bonkers, you can develop the skill of coordinating your breath with saying a pleasant word in your mind every time you exhale, or saying half of a phrase on the inhalation and the other half on the exhalation—over and over. This is called the Relaxation Response™ and it is an effective, field-tested method of diving under the turbulence. It is a skill well worth the practice it takes to master.
Making that u-turn is effective because you allow self-care to trump the frenzy of stress. Resistance to finding the discipline to practicing these strategies is normal. But when there’s so much at stake, this investment could make a big difference.
Beyond work in her practice, Helen presents at national and international conferences and runs two-day training workshops for mental health professionals seeking expertise in infertility. You can learn more about Helen and obtain a wealth of free information on her site at www.mind-body-unity.com.
*Nathalie Rappoport-Hubschman, et al, “Letting Go Coping is Associated with Successful IVF Treatment Outcome,” Fertility and Sterility 92, 4 (2009): 1384 – 1388.