It has been one stressful year to say the least!
The pandemic has affected everyone in one way or the other, whether it be restricting the ability to see family members and friends, to work, the significant impact on mental health and in many cases, and the way it has directly impacted medical treatment, including fertility treatments.
After a stressful and frustrating year, many people are looking forward to coming together and celebrating with friends and family.
One aspect, however, will remain the same each year, that being that this time of the year can be potentially stressful and somewhat painful for those struggling with infertility. This could be an especially painful time if you have had to delay treatment due to COVID-19 restrictions or financial stress.
We have previously written about the different coping strategies you may be able to use during the holiday season when faced with various situations that can be distressing.
This year, as families are able to come back together and celebrate safely in groups, it is still important to take the time to be kind to yourself.
1. Identify the triggers
It is important to identify the different things that may trigger feelings of stress or anxiety, whether it involves being around someone’s new baby, a relative that may ask inappropriate questions, or a friend who may offer you unwanted “advice”.
Planning ahead and understanding that it is ok to put yourself first are key in situations such as these. If you do not feel up to joining the family or a group of friends, it is absolutely ok to say no. Put yourself first and ensure you have a supportive network of people in your corner.
2. Organise something to look forward to
Xmas also marks the end of year and getting ready to make a fresh start in the new year. If you have had unsuccessful attempts at conceiving it can add to the stress and frustration you may be experiencing.
It is therefore essential that not only to you treat yourself with kindness, organise something that you, or you and your partner may enjoy. This could be an extra special gift you may treat yourself to, a fun date that you possibly wouldn’t be able to enjoy as much with children, or, if you’re feeling up to it, a wonderful get-together with family and friends may be on the cards too.
3. Managing your festive season
After you have identified the triggers, it is important to manage your time and activities.
You may plan to see your parents or family members, supportive friends, you may find that family gatherings are too painful and spending time away from these situations is a sensible solution. You may decide to avoid large shopping centres where you will face families, children, and Santa, you may choose to spend the time by yourself or surround yourself with holiday cheer.
Whatever you decide, planning ahead will help you cope with any stressful situation that may arise.
4. Tips for the family and friends
Often, we forget about addressing family and friends in these situations. We’ve provided patients with potential coping strategies, however there are friends and family who frequently feel useless in these situations when all they want to do is help support you.
To the supportive friend or family member watching a loved one struggle during this time, please don’t feel that you need to “fix” things, please understand that your support and comfort means the world and please don’t feel hurt or rejected if your loved one wishes to spend this time alone.
It is also very important to understand that feeling sad, jealous and emotional during this time of year is perfectly normal, probably even more so given how stressful this year has been.
Xmas can be overwhelming and trying to search for a solution may prove challenging, however there is no harm in needing to reach out if you are struggling.