This Guest Blog post is from Circle + Bloom. Joanne Verkuilen’s (Founder & Co-CEO) and her sister, Susan Cooke (Co-CEO), share their story and mission behind their company here.
With this study published definitely linking stress and trying to conceive, we are one giant step closer to understanding more about our female bodies.
Three years ago when I had my “a-ha” moment, standing in my kitchen holding a cup of coffee, with the idea of Circle+Bloom banging me on the top of the head, the stress-fertility connection was only a theory. Over and over we heard friends who “gave up trying” and either adopted or decided to go childless, and they ended up naturally pregnant.
Even my own experience seemed to show the connection: our first baby came with us “trying but not trying,” – we weren’t using birth control, nor were we expecting anything to happen. Our second child was a completely different story. With my biological clock ticking like Big Ben, our work to get pregnant a second time was just that: work. Four years of work.
Now, we have 284 women to thank for shedding light on the subject. With the study published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, we can now conclusively say that there is a most definite connection between the length of trying to get pregnant and levels of stress.
Of course there are a multitude of other factors that may be impeding your fertility: PCOS, endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, cysts, etc., etc. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore the stress component if you do have a diagnosed condition. Working through your stress issues will give you peace of mind and having a better feeling of control over your fertility and may give you the strength to carry on.
So let’s celebrate this new-found knowledge! Use it to our advantage! Say NO to stress!
I can hear you yelling at me right now though. Is this easier said than done? This raises questions for ourselves such as how much stress do we really experience in our lives? How can I really reduce stress and relax? How do I know if it is working?
Here are five tips to begin to think differently about your life, your stress and your ability to become pregnant:
1. View the stress-infertility link with a sense of optimism and take control of your fertility. Knowledge is power, and this study brings us closer to making our pregnancy dreams a reality. Think about this as a way to restart your fertility journey.
2. Assess what brings you peace, joy and fulfillment. Every single day, find the simple things in life and find gratitude for them. For me, it could be the sun light filtering through the curtains that makes me stop and enjoy the moment. What else brings you happiness throughout your day? Try to become more aware of your inner state of being, and really make a commitment to yourself to manifest more of the good stuff in your life.
3. Deep breath every single day. The wonderful book by Meir Schneider who taught his eyes to see after being born completely blind convinced me of the value of deep breathing exercises. The fact that most of the time we take in only enough oxygen for our lungs when the entire body needs oxygen convinces me that we need to take time to restore all parts of our body with deep breathing exercises. Not only will you feel more awake and alive after deep breathing, but the process of focusing on your breathing is step one in any kind of meditation or relaxation work. Focusing only on your breath allows you to become centered and more fully present.
4. Wherever you go, there you are. The wonderful books by both Jon Kabat-Zinn and Ekhart Tolle have been so life-changing for me on a personal level. For most of my life, my thoughts have always been on the next thing in my life, the future, and the “what-ifs” that could either help or hurt me. I was known in my family as the “klutz” and I truly believe I have accidents when I am not focusing on what it is I am doing in the present moment. What these books have taught me is that all we have is right now. All that truly exists is right now. By focusing on the “now,” I begin to see the true value of my existence. (Note – I still have klutzy moments as my sisters will surely point out – but I realize it immediately where my thoughts were and therefore feel more in control.)
5. Integrate relaxation techniques into your schedule. Just like you exercise for health, just like you take vitamins and eat healthy foods, you should also take time to consciously reduce your heart rate in relaxation and focused attention. Slowing your brain chatter, becoming more aware of your thoughts each and every day – and scheduling something in your daily schedule like meditation, using our Circle+Bloom programs, yoga, journaling, or simply taking a long slow walk to savor the day.