By: Erica Berman, PhD
You were dealing with the challenges of working and trying to prepare for your next fertility treatment. Then COVID-19 hit. How can you cope?
Some of the aspects of infertility that make it so overwhelming – lack of control, long wait periods, and uncertainty – are also what make living through the COVID-19 pandemic so stressful. When will social isolation end? When will I get my job back? How will my fertility treatment be impacted?
How do you maintain your physical and psychological wellness when you are dealing with all this uncertainty and physical isolation?
First, try to make peace with the uncertainty and things out of our control. Recognize the emotions this brings (fear, anxiety, anger) but do not get mired in them. Start a journal and write your thoughts and feelings down daily. Also, write down the things you have to be grateful for each day.
Second, maintain a consistent routine. Essential to mental health is having a sense of purpose. If you are not currently working or able to proceed through fertility treatments, it is easy to feel hopeless. Make it your purpose to get through this and stay well. This requires:
- Going to bed and waking around the same time every day
- Getting at least a few minutes of fresh air daily
- Exercising daily (as per your fertility doctor’s recommendations)
- Eating unprocessed, whole foods + avoiding smoking & alcohol
- Connecting with others
- Finding ‘flow’
If your finances are tight, it is still possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are lots of free exercise websites and apps (my favorites are www.blogilates.com and www.fitnessblender.com. Some of the most inexpensive and seasonal winter foods are the most nutritious, such as cabbage, root vegetables, dried legumes, and rice and other whole grains. There is no need to purchase exotic superfoods.
Loved ones do not always know how to support someone going through infertility, and you may find that during the COVID-19 pandemic there is even less empathy available for your situation as everyone faces significant challenges from the fallout. Make sure to find online fertility support groups and message boards so you can connect with others who understand your unique situation.
The term ‘flow’ in positive psychology refers to that state of mind you enter when you are so engrossed in a particularly pleasurable activity that you lose track of time and are focusing on nothing but the task at hand. Rather than trying to be ‘productive’ during this time, look for ways to find flow (remember, your purpose is simply to get through this while staying well), this can be through cooking, baking, reading, listening to or playing music, writing, painting, playing video games, or whatever else you find pleasurable.
Most importantly, remember that this will pass. While we do not yet know when life will return to normal, it will, and until then, take care of yourself.