On Fertile Ground

Relief for Infertility Patients

The Concept of Stress Revisited

Look at the stress of infertility from a different angle.

This entry is very straightforward. It is just meant to call your attention to what might be a more panoramic view of stress than you might currently be aware of. Consider my "3 A's" approach to coping with stress: If you ACCEPT the reality, if you become more self-AWARE, and if you learn ways to ADAPT to the infertility experience, you can shift from feeling vanquished to feeling victorious.

What do I mean by all of this? We often think of stress as "out there"-something that is happening to you. Certainly this is true with infertility. One of my patients described the rigors of treatment as, "I feel as if my body has been hijacked." And certainly, the feeling of losing your mind can't be left out of the story.

But if you revisit the concept of stress, if you look at it from a different angle, the stress of infertility is more or less difficult based upon how your style of managing stress has evolved. Before you ever heard the word infertility, did you tend to be a worry-wart? Did you easily loose your grip? And now, does your coping style mesh or conflict you're your partner's? Even if you have developed sophisticated coping mechanisms over the years, everyone-and I mean everyone-eventually feels swamped. In other words, stress feels easier or harder based upon what comes from "within you."

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How is it possible to feel victorious? If you do not know already, mind/body coping skills will take you a long way toward reclaiming your sanity and sense of calm and optimism. Women who have attended mind/body stress reduction classes have described the relief. Of course, the hitch here is that you must invest the time and effort into learning these techniques. Often, this is the last thing you'd be in the mood for, but it is well worth the effort. For a complete guide to learning these skills, you might find my book (On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility) useful. It has the potential to teach you what you need to know in order to ride the wave of the stress instead of being swamped by it. You would find it empowering.

 

 

Helen Adrienne, L.C.S.W., teaches stress reduction classes for infertility patients at NYU Fertility Center and is the author of On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility.

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