IVF is a rollercoaster experience full of unknowns and long, often excruciating waiting times for results.
The 10-14 days in between embryo transfer and the long-awaited blood pregnancy test results can be particularly challenging.
For me personally, I felt the most anxiety on the day of the test and those few hours in between the blood draw and my doctor’s call.
My heart would flutter when I’d think about a potentially disappointing outcome.
We only had one embryo this round so pretty much everything was riding on this final moment – did we score? Or would we have to go another round that would potentially last months?
I’m anxious by nature, so I’m no stranger to the signs and feelings of panic attacks and the fight or flight stress response.
But this anxiety was acute, and I knew that if I wasn’t proactive I’d go into a downward spiral.
So many parts of the IVF process felt out of my control, so I wanted to focus on the things I could control.
My choices, attitude, perceptions, and actions could either send me into further stress and anguish or they could help ground me.
I knew I had to choose things that would nurture, soothe, and empower me no matter the outcome.
These are five mindful tips that helped me manage my nerve energy, fears, and emotions, and hopefully they can help you too:
1 – Breathe.
Did you know that the way you breathe can change how you feel almost instantly?
Slow, deep, rhythmic breaths can soothe an overactive stress response by activating the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system.
Breathing exercises like box breathing and ocean breathing are used by both yogis and Navy SEALS alike in high-stress moments.
These exercises help to send signals of safety to your body, which helps to dissolve nerve energy.
2 – Place your focus and attention on something inspiring, creative, and constructive.
Keep yourself busy by engaging in activities that encourage your creative energy to flow freely.
Are you a writer? Write an article or journal.
Are you an artist? Follow your craft.
Do you love playing a musical instrument? Go for it.
Are you an entrepreneur who’s passionate about your work? Then get to work.
Focus on activities that both challenge and inspire you.
Things that make you lose track of time.
In Joseph Campbell’s words, choose something that helps you follow your bliss.
3 – Nourish your body.
What you eat greatly impacts your mood.
Your food choices matter and can either help your body increase inner calm or send you into further anxiety.
Overly processed and sugary foods can make anxiety and stress worse.
Opt for organic, whole foods and when in doubt eat like a yogi.
4 – Hydrate.
Did you know that even mild dehydration can impact your mood and make anxiety and nervousness worse?
A 2014 study published in journal PLoS One found that mild dehydration impacted mood, fatigue, and concentration levels in subjects. (1)
Women seem to be particularly sensitive to these effects. (2)
So make sure you’re drinking at least 1.5-2 liters per day.
Drink more if you’re drinking caffeinated beverages.
5 – Ground yourself.
Grounding refers to the act of connecting your body and bare feet with the Earth’s healing frequency.
After all, the earth is the ultimate mother, right?
Since we spend so much time indoors we don’t take advantage of this simple yet powerful opportunity to strengthen our bodies and minds.
Research shows that the act of placing your bare feet on the ground helps you to absorb the Earth’s electrons and balancing electromagnetic energy.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental & Public Health found that you become like a sponge soaking up this energy, and this translates to the following benefits: (3) (4)
- Less anxiety
- More inner calm
- More mental clarity
- Increased creativity
- Improved sleep
- Improved immune function
- Less inflammation
- Lowered risk of cancer
- Higher white blood cell count
- Less muscle soreness and stiffness
6 – Label your feelings.
Instead of resisting the emotions you’re feeling try naming and acknowledging them.
Brain scan studies from UCLA show that the simple act of labeling your feelings can help make them less intense. (5)
Naming your feelings has also been shown to decrease activity in your amygdala – the part of our brain that oversees emotions like fear and anxiety.