1. Don’t consume too much media
Staying informed is great, but being glued to the TV or social media and getting caught up in too much bad news isn’t good for anyone’s mental health. Select a small number of credible and trusted outlets and try setting some limits, especially in relation to Covid-19 news. Seek out some good stories as well to balance out the hardship.
2. Stick to a routine
Schedules are great – they keep us grounded and give structure to our daily lives. With many of us working from home and having our lives restricted, our routines have drastically changed. But while the Thursday night gym session or Friday nigh book club might have to wait a little longer, there are ways to create new routines. Simple things like waking at the same time every day, getting ready like you’re going to work, having dinner at the same time. If you used to catch up once a month for dinner with friends, keep doing it, even if it’s over Zoom!
3. Phone a friend
The hardest part of the Covid-19 pandemic has been staying away from our family and friends. Going through fertility treatment also can be a lonely and isolating experience, so stay connected to trusted family and friends however you can. Talking to someone who cares is a great way to reduce anxiety, depression and loneliness. Give them a call, send a text, grab a coffee over video chat, or even go for a walk. Everyone will communicate their feelings about their fertility journey differently, but try not to become further isolated and share your experiences with someone.
4. Just breathe
Breathing and relaxation techniques are long proven methods for combatting anxiety. They are quick, free and work right in the moment. There are hundreds of free apps available to download to help with breathing, calming and meditating. Try making time at least once a day for this relaxation, as the more you practice, the better you will get at being able to calm your body and mind.
5. It’s ok to say no
This can be a hard one but it is perfectly fine to say no. To say no to extra work shifts, to a Zoom wine catch up, to the pressure of starting a new hobby in iso-life, to donating money for your friend’s charity, to offers of help you don’t want or need. It could be anything, but the main point is that only you know what you need right now and now is a time to be looking after yourself first. Choose what will make you feel good, versus doing things that may add to your emotional burden, and don’t overextend.
6. Look after your body
If you’ve been trying to have a baby, the chances are you’re already limiting caffeine and alcohol and trying to eat well and exercise. And while we’re bombarded with images of fit types working out from home, there’s even more images of home baking and pasta! Yes, Covid-comfort food is a real thing and it’s a battle for most of us. Try to maintain a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Also take the time to do some exercise you enjoy, maybe a work out or some yoga or just a half hour walk every day.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
Stress and sleep are not good friends and getting a good night’s sleep is super important for a healthy body and calm mind. Try and keep caffeine to a minimum in the afternoon and evening, keep a good routine before you go to bed, try the breathing techniques outlined earlier and make sure your phone and devices are not in your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is a comfy temperature, nice and dark and a soothing place to be.
8. Have balanced thoughts
This is not about being positive – no-one is positive all of the time. This is about having a balanced perspective and understanding your thoughts. Feeling sad or negative is normal, but having ongoing negative thoughts is not. You may also be dealing with changes to your fertility treatment or uncertainty about the treatment as a result of Covid-19, so it’s normal to feel worried and powerless. Learn to catch yourself when your thoughts are stuck in the negative. Try to be realistic and balanced in your appraisal of the situation and of course reach out for help if you need.
9. Do something that makes you happy
In stressful times like this, it can feel natural to be angry at the world, yourself, and/or your body. Sometimes we stop doing everything when we’re stressed, even the things we enjoy and which make us happy. It’s important to do things that bring joy or feel good. If it helps make a list to remind you. It might be cooking a meal, doing some gardening, watching a show you love, going for a jog, painting your nails – it doesn’t matter what it is – just make sure you are taking care of you and finding some light in life.
10. Know When to Ask for Help
We know that many of you may be experiencing increased levels of distress during this time. It is certainly normal to feel concerned and out of control with the combination of your fertility journey and the Covid-19 situation. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know, or you may need to reach out for professional help. If you’re more isolated than you need to be, feeling down for longer periods of time, having intrusive thoughts or having difficulty with your partner or colleagues, it’s best to get help. You can speak to your GP or the Fertility SA doctor about finding the right support for you.