9 Ways to De-stress While Trying to Conceive
“Don’t stress, just relax, you’ll get pregnant soon.”
If anyone has ever given you this advice, you’ve likely rolled your eyes in annoyance of the generic response. But as it turns out, it’s not actually bad advice.
Stress plays a big role in our health and may also be playing a role in whether or not we can get pregnant. While it’s not possible to eliminate stress altogether, we can develop habits that help to relax our minds and bodies.
In this guide, you will learn how worry can affect conception and 9 ways you can reduce stress levels.
How Stress Can Affect Conception
Stress can affect our bodies in many ways: Stomach aches, backaches, high blood pressure and even heart attacks. Keeping this in mind, it should come as no surprise that stress can also affect our ability to conceive.
One study found that women stopped ovulating if they had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Because these women weren’t ovulating, they were unable to conceive. According to researchers, those with stressful jobs are the most at risk and often deny that stress impacts their life.
However, there’s good news: De-stressing can eliminate the negative effects and allow you to get pregnant. In the study, 80% of women who received therapy were able to start ovulating and some even became pregnant within two months.
Stress can also cause you to ovulate later in your cycle, meaning you’ll misjudge your “fertility window.”
With this being said, the stress that impacted these women were long-term, chronic stresses. Chronic stresses could include a dysfunction family, high-stress job or a persistent problem. Acute stress, which nearly everyone experiences, is unlikely to affect conception. Everyday stresses may include meeting a deadline, deciding what to cook for dinner or getting the kids to soccer practice on time.
Ways to De-Stress While Trying to Conceive
We know counseling can help treat a variety of mental health issues, but what about infertility?
The study we previously mentioned proves that therapy has the ability to help you de-stress and get pregnant. The women in the study were taught new perspectives and self-worth. As a result, 25% were able to conceive within only two months.
When you speak with a licensed therapist or psychologist, you can learn different methods to cope with or reduce stress. Some therapists specialize in fertility and will understand the emotional challenges you may be facing. If you’re not sure whether seeing a therapist is right for you, you can try a week of free online counseling at BetterHelp.com.
The cliché “laughter is the best medicine” just might be true for you!
Patients receiving IVF treatment were more likely to get pregnant if they were visited by a comedian, one infertility clinic found. Out of 229 women, those visited by the comedian increased their pregnancy success by 36%. This is compared to a success rate of 20% of women whose treatment was comedy-free.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in the long-term, laughter can increase your personal satisfaction, reduce anxiety and improve your mood. In the short-term, it helps to reduce tension and relieve your stress response.
Not all of our partners double as comedians, so how can we get our daily dose of laughter? Here are a few ideas:
- Watch a comedy movie
- Watch a stand-up comedian on TV
- Go to a comedy show
- Laughter yoga
- Google funny pictures
- Pick up a joke book
- Search YouTube for funny songs or skits
- Spend time with the friend or family member who makes you laugh
- Follow a comedian on Twitter or Facebook
- Force a laugh (yes, even fake laughs can help!)
Have a Spa Night
Sometimes what you need is some self-love! Giving yourself a spa night allows you to forget everything going on in your life and just focus on yourself.
Start by creating a relaxing environment using candles, essential oils, tranquil music and dim lights. A fruit plate, chocolate, sparkling water or lemon water can also add a special touch. Prepare your towels, pajamas and supplies beforehand.
Your spa night could consist of any of the following:
- Bath (with salts or bubbles)
- Face mask
- Hair mask
After you’ve finished your spa activities, crawl into bed and read a good book or watch a funny movie. You’ll feel like a renewed woman!
You should already be exercising to improve your health. But if you need another reason, we’ll give you one: It will help you relax, which could help you get pregnant.
Exercising increases your body’s production of endorphins (a feel good chemical). It can also act as a form of meditation because you will be focusing on the task at hand as opposed to thinking about your to-do list.
Forms of exercise could include:
- Playing a sport (soccer, badminton, basketball, etc.)
- Going to the gym
- Classes (kickboxing, spinning, etc.)
Meditation is now recognized as a practice with numerous health benefits, including reducing stress. A 2016 study found that after a year of meditation at work, participants decreased their stress levels by 31%.
For those with busy lifestyles, it can be difficult to sit down and focus on nothing at all. Your mind might automatically wander to a list of chores or worries.
However, visualization meditations create a scene in your mind so you will be more likely to focus and relax. The audio guides you through a peaceful environment, describing the sights, scents and sounds in detail. You can find guided visualization meditations on YouTube or you can download a meditation app.
Eating healthy is another tip you should already be following to increase your chances of conceiving. What you put in your body has an effect on how you feel and can either increase or decrease your stress levels.
Foods high in fiber and healthy carbohydrates make the brain increase serotonin production, according to researchers. Good choices include sweet potatoes, fruits, veggies and rice.
On the other hand, foods and beverages high in sugar and caffeine can allow us to get worked up easier. Avoid sodas, baked goods and fast foods.
Spend Time in Nature — Or Bring it Into Your Home
In a digital world, sometimes we need to go back to our roots to ground ourselves and get into the right headspace to conceive.
Research indicates that there is a link between the amount of time a person spends in nature and their reduction of stress and depression. Taking a walk in the park, by the beach or in the woods could be exactly the destresser you need.
In fact, nature is so powerful that even bringing a plant into your home can impact your mood. According to a 2008 study, hospital patients who had plants in their room reported lower stress levels than those without any form of nature.
Spend Time With Your Partner
You may see your partner every day after work, but how much quality time do you spend with him?
Rather than sitting down to watch TV, make a point to actually connect with your partner. Share your stresses, worries and ask for comfort — make a conscious effort to be there for one another. While your partner isn’t a therapist, simply talking to him about your feelings can release your bottled up stress.
The increase in closeness will also likely lead to physical touch. Kissing, hugging and cuddling increases your oxytocin levels, which can help reduce stress and put you into the baby-making mood. Since you might be busy with a newborn baby 9 months down the road, now is the time to deepen your relationship with your partner.
Shut it Off
In today’s world, we are constantly connected through technology. No matter where we are, our phones are always with us. Relaxing walks, bubble baths or date nights are often interrupted by our pesky devices screaming for our attention. We need to reply to texts, Facebook messages, work emails, personal emails and return phone calls.
Since we’re so used to these tasks, we may not even realize that they are stressing us out and adding more to our to-do list. Other forms of social media like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can cause stress by forcing us to compare our lives to the lives of others. One expert even went as far to say that happiness can be as simple as switching off your phone.
Give yourself some time without these demands by shutting down your computer and shutting your phone off (not just on silent!). Instead, spend this time doing anything else off this list.
Do you think stress has affected your ability to conceive? Comment your experience below. Be sure to include any other de-stressing tips and activities not mentioned here. If you have friends or family members that wish to conceive, share this post with them, too!
P.S. When you become pregnant, you can take your bonding experience with your baby up a notch. Our fetal dopplers will give you and your partner the amazing ability to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home.