Sadness, not joy. Anxiety, not peace. Feeling alone, not together. The infertility journey can turn the holiday season – and life in general – upside down.
First thing, if you are feeling this way, you’re not alone. Second thing, while these feelings are 100% normal, they do not mean that your holidays are doomed to be sad, anxious and lonely.
To help, we’ve put together Pulling Down the Moon’s top five tips for not only surviving, but thriving, during the holidays. At the Moon, our work is guided by an ancient model of mind and body health called the Five Body Model. The model teaches that to be fully healthy and well, we need to care for five different aspects (or bodies) of ourselves: physical, energetic, emotional, wisdom and bliss. Our sadness and anxiety can stem from imbalances or neglect of any one of these aspects. Our six-week yoga program addresses them in depth, but you can also capture their power with some simple DIY steps.
Physical: During the holidays, make nourishing your body your number one priority. One key strategy for the physical body include nourishing your gut. Let’s face it, during the holidays we want to splurge a bit with sweets and treats, hors oeuvres and cocktails. Enjoying treats in moderation is totally okay. Just make sure that when you’re not sampling holiday fare, you’re supporting your body’s digestion and function by also including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, lean protein and fiber to keep you “regular” and nourished. Adding a probiotic supplement will also help your digestion as well as support mood and prevent colds and flu!
Energetic: Yes, the holidays can be draining. And, truly, Aunt Susie can make some really boneheaded comments that literally drain the life energy from your body. That’s why taking just 5 minutes to breath every day is essential! In yoga philosophy, it’s believed that life energy (prana) comes in with the breath. So, put on a favorite piece of music, or just sit in silence, and take some deep breaths. Visualize filling with light and life as you breathe in, and that you’re letting go of bad ju-ju, Aunt Susie’s dumb comments, and holiday tension as you breathe out.
Emotional: Allow yourself time to feel what you’re feeling but also practice letting your feelings go. And, if you are having a hard time letting go of your negative feels (no judgement - that’s totally natural!) speaking to someone who “gets it” is really helpful. So maybe it’s a support group or a counselor, or just unburdening to a trusted friend. When we articulate feelings in a safe space, we can feel lighter and they lose a bit of their power over us.
Wisdom: Wisdom, in the sense of the five bodies, means connecting with your authentic self. During the holiday season, one way to tune in to your authentic self is to choose a couple of activities that are meaningful for you and remind you of what you love and hold dear. Making a phone calls to people who have inspired or helped you over the years or starting a new holiday tradition that gives you joy, are a few ways to reconnect with your authentic self.
Bliss: There’s a traditional saying the “the moon is always full, we just don’t always get to see the whole thing.” That’s a pretty metaphor for the fact that - if we can drop all the judgement and conditions we put on our happiness – joy naturally shines from us. We can access this joy through practicing compassion, gratitude and generosity and there’s no better time than the holidays to lean into these practices. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, petting shelter animals, or starting a holiday gratitude journal are great ways to get the bliss juices flowing.
More than anything, remember this holiday season that there’s a community that cares and understands what you’re going through. You’re not alone – one in ten women are struggling with infertility. Your doctors and clinicians care, and there is support for you if you seek it.
Beth Heller, M.S. is the co-founder of Pulling Down the Moon Integrative Care for Fertility with locations in Chicago, Highland Park and Buffalo Grove. Our centers offer acupuncture, nutrition, massage, and yoga and free events specifically for the fertility community. Check out www.pullingdownthemoon.com for more info.