If you’re trying to conceive (TTC), you may have heard some of these familiar phrases:
“You shouldn’t stress about it.”
Real talk: knowing how to relax when TTC is not as simple as following a command.
In fact, these supposedly harmless pointers can make matters worse.
When has telling someone to calm down ever actually worked?
Well, as it turns out, in one of life’s greatest ironies, the more someone tells you to relax, the harder it is to do.
It’s a vicious cycle.
In this article: 📝
- How do I deal with TTC anxiety?
- How do I stop obsessing over TTC?
- Can being stressed stop you getting pregnant?
- How to relax when trying to get pregnant
How do I deal with TTC anxiety?
Before we go any further:
This is hard.
So let’s have this conversation kindly.
Let’s take out the “prescriptions” and the “shoulds” and the “why-haven’t-yous”.
Let’s center you and your mental health. Deal?
Right now, it can feel like your whole world revolves around this one thing.
Sex may feel as though it’s become about one thing and one thing only.
Or maybe you’re finding it hard to even get any fertility treatments (which is becoming a bit of a problem in the US right now).
And while all this is going on, everyone around you seems to be making pregnancy announcements.
You want to be happy for them, but it’s honestly so hard.
But you’re not alone in this.
One in six couples don’t get pregnant as soon as they’d hoped.
How do I stop obsessing over TTC?
We all know that trying to conceive can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience, so it’s totally normal that you might find yourself obsessing about it.
It’s a pretty big deal.
But it’s key to practice self-care and find ways to manage your anxiety, as obsessing over TTC can negatively impact your mental and physical health.
Here are some tips on how to stop obsessing over TTC:
- Limit how much TTC-related info you see: This includes social media, online forums, even conversations with friends and family. While it can be helpful to share experiences and gather information, excessive exposure can fuel anxiety and disappointment. Checking in every now and then with your Peanut TTC group is a great way to feel less alone, but if you need to take some time, take it.
- Focus on self-care: Prioritizing your physical and mental well-being is crucial. Do things that bring you joy, like exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.
- Get your nutrition and sleep: This is all about doing whatever “healthy” means for you — both nutrition and sleep are needed to manage stress levels.
- Be present: Mindfulness techniques like meditation or yoga can help you feel more present (moment awareness) and reduce overthinking. Stay grounded in the here and now, rather than dwelling on any TTC concerns.
- Address negative thoughts: When negative thoughts rear their ugly heads, challenge them with evidence and logic. You are strong, so remind yourself of your strengths, resilience, and the positive aspects of your life. Even just acknowledging those negative thoughts can help, or any thoughts you have during your fertility journey. Keeping a fertility journal can help with this, somewhere you can put those thoughts and feelings to get them out.
- Seek support: Talk to your partner, family, or Peanut TTC group about your feelings. It can really help to know you’re not alone and connect with others who understand the TTC journey, offering empathy and encouragement.
- Ask for help: If you find it difficult to manage your anxiety or obsessive thoughts on your own, there’s nothing wrong with getting professional counseling. A therapist can give guidance and support in creating the best coping mechanisms for you to manage your stress.
- Celebrate non-TTC milestones: Acknowledge and appreciate the positive aspects of your life that don’t revolve around TTC. Accomplishments, personal growth, and fulfilling relationships deserve recognition and celebration.
- Reframe your perspective: Instead of viewing TTC as a race or competition, focus on the process and the journey itself. Embrace each cycle as an opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen your relationship with your partner.
- Get distracted: Do things that take your mind off TTC, like hobbies, creative endeavors, or volunteer work. The more social, the better!
- Practice patience and self-compassion: Remember that TTC is a natural process and there is no guarantee of a specific timeline. Be patient with yourself, your partner, and the process. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding throughout this journey.
Can being stressed stop you getting pregnant?
So does stress affect conception?
It may be one of the many factors involved in getting pregnant — but it’s complicated.
So that’s why we have to be super nuanced when we talk about stress and fertility.
While stress can be a factor (or a factor that contributes to other factors), simply learning to be calm isn’t a catchall solution.
Stress and getting pregnant
Stress impacts our bodies in so many complicated ways.
In and of itself, it’s not a problem.
In fact, feeling stressed can be weirdly useful, at times.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol.
And this does things like raising our blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate — all very useful if you’re looking to run from a predator or flee a burning building.
The problem is, that if your stress response sticks around long enough, it can impact your health.
Some of the impacts of long-term stress are:
- Aches and pains
- Headaches and dizziness
- Muscle tension
- Stomach issues
- High blood pressure
And importantly for this discussion, stress can make you feel like sex is the last thing you want to do.
Also, stress can make the whole self-care thing that much harder to focus on.
Smoking, drinking, and not getting the nutrition you need all increase the risk of conception struggles.
(Not to beat yourself up for any of this, but to know that it could be a factor.)
What’s more, if you’ve suffered a pregnancy loss, the idea of TTC can be loaded with all sorts of complex (completely legitimate) emotions.
It can also put stress on relationships which makes things even more difficult.
And here comes that vicious cycle again: the stress of TTC can cause more stress.
How to relax when trying to get pregnant
Before we get going here, a few things:
- None of this is your fault. We’ll say it again: nothing to do with any of this is your fault.
- More than anything else, the important thing is to look after your own mental health. That’s what matters. Not because you’re TTC. But because your mental health matters. So when we talk about ways to relax, that’s the goal above everything else.
- You know your body. And if you’re in a relationship, you know that relationship. You do what works for you.
So, here’s what you can try to help you de-stress when you’re TTC:
Go for a checkup with your doctor (if you haven’t already)
If there are courses of treatment that can help, you can get started on them.
That alone can release some of the stress from the situation.
Book a counseling session
You might want to try therapy on your own or with a partner.
(If you have any conflict with a friend or family member, you may want to explore therapy with them too.)
Going to therapy can help you organize the confusing feelings that are tied to TTC and boost your overall mental health.
Have good sex
OK, hear us out here.
Make sex about enjoying yourself.
Sex, in and of itself, can be a great stress reliever.
(It can also be insanely stressful for so many reasons and it’s definitely not your fault if it’s not feeling good right now.)
Toys can help, too, if you fancy spicing things up a bit.
Give meditation a go
Meditation has become a bit of a buzzword in wellness circles.
Suddenly everyone is meditating.
And they all seem to know how.
So firstly, what is it?
Basically, it’s about calming your thoughts and checking in with yourself without judgment.
There’s no one way to meditate — guided, silent, to music, long, short, inside, outside.
The point is that you get to be with yourself for a bit.
If you want to try it out, here’s a very simple meditation exercise to test the waters:
- Set a timer. Maybe just start with five minutes. Or just a couple of minutes if that’s all the time you have.
- Sit in a place and way that feels comfortable.
- Close your eyes, if that feels comfortable to you.
- Turn your attention to your breath. That’s your focus.
- It’s normal for your mind to wander. Just bring it back to your breath. Sometimes it helps to have a mantra (something simple like I am enough) to think of whenever your mind drifts.
- When your timer goes off, open your eyes if they are closed. Take three deep breaths. Kindly go about your day.
If you feel uncomfortable at all, do whatever makes you comfy — it’s hard to relax when you feel off.
Get into a downward-facing dog
Connecting movement to breath — that’s the point here.
We know, it can sometimes feel inaccessible because it’s made out to be this fancy thing that super fancy people do.
There are so many different styles that there truly is something for everyone.
You can choose to join a class or practice at home.
Get a massage
Yep, massage can have a few benefits when it comes to fertility and TTC.
The main one? Relaxation, of course!
If money’s tight, call on a friend or partner to give a helping hand.
Do things that you love
Walk in nature.
Take stock of what makes you feel good and keep doing it.
It doesn’t have to be productive, either — you don’t have to always be doing something that “means” something.
TTC just brings up so much.
It can be super stressful and may leave you doubting the whole journey you’re on.
And it’s all so darn isolating.
It can just feel so impossible to talk to anyone — including your partner — about how you’re really feeling about all of this.
While the topic is complicated, one thing is not: you don’t have to do it alone.
It’s about time that we normalized the conversation around how complicated getting and staying pregnant can be.
Last words from us: your well-being is a priority. Look after yourself, you’re worth it.