As a nurse practitioner, Monica received advanced nursing education in addition to being a registered nurse. She is a fully licensed registered nurse and Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner in the state of Connecticut and is certified by the board of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Monica’s nursing work experience spans nearly two decades in the field of fertility treatment. Monica’s passion lies in taking care of the whole patient. Monica works with patients and stresses the importance of integrating comprehensive care – including yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and nutrition – with fertility treatment.
I will leave the facts about coronavirus to the experts, but it has me thinking about our breath.
We breathe in; we breathe out.
Do we take that simple human process for granted? It’s a simple reflex we’re all born with, but do we realize how crucial it is for life to exist?
Think of the word inspiration. It means “to breathe in,” but it also means “a person or thing that has an uplifting influence on one’s intellect, emotion or creativity.”
I’m writing all this during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, and to say “things are in flux” is an understatement. Everyone is trying to socially distance themselves while maintaining some semblance of structure, normalcy, and progress. The bills aren’t stopping, the laundry doesn’t take a break, and toilet paper is suddenly a hot commodity. Stress is at an all-time high for everyone – kids, adults, health care workers, garbage collectors, mail distributers, patients, you, me.
And on top of all this, infertility doesn’t just disappear or become less of a priority.
What can we do during this stressful time, when we feel both internal and external pressures to put our lives (and our desire to be pregnant) on hold? It’s so frustrating to not feel like you’re doing anything; maybe you feel stuck.
Stress and What it Really Does to Our Bodies
We’d like to offer you some information and an opportunity to use this waiting period to do some inner work that can help you manage this stressful time and maybe get you in better (mental and physical) shape for pregnancy.
Our nervous system has a unique way of dealing with stress; it prepares us either to battle or to run. You’ve heard of the so-called “fight or flight” response, and it’s very effective when dealing with predators or emergencies. Our brain, though, can’t distinguish between a real threat and chronic stress, so it sends out the same set of hormones when stressed as it does when there is a true emergency.
These hormones do a few things, they cause the heart and brain and extremities to get the oxygenated blood that they need at the expense of other, non-essential systems such as the reproductive and digestive system. The last thing we are thinking about in an emergency is eating a sandwich, right? Trying to do anything when stressed, eat, be creative, work…is suboptimal. Our digestion is paused, cortisol, the stress hormone is released, and none of this helps us with everyday life, particularly when we are trying to nourish ourselves physically or mentally.
There is one thing we CAN do, though. We can convince our body that it’s relaxed when it isn’t, and the way to do this is free, easy, not time-consuming and something that we can access at will. What is it?
The Secret to Stress-Management You Can Do from Home
That’s a fancy word for making your breathing deeper and getting your body into a state of conscious awareness or mindfulness. This can be as easy as, well, breathing deeper. (There are courses that take you through more complex breathing exercises to minimize stress, but breathing deeper truly is the simplest and also effective.)
How to do Breathwork
The simplest way, in my opinion, is to do 5-5-7 breathing.
Inhale for 5 counts
Hold for 5 counts
Exhale for 7 counts
Check out the video at the top of this blog for a demonstration. The wonderful thing about this exercise is that it’s something that you can access, on your own, at any point in this process.
One additional piece of advice is to take a moment to think about how you are feeling before you eat. Do this practice just before your meal to make sure you are truly hungry, you can think clearly, and your digestion is performing optimally.
This is just one of the strategies that you can use during this time. We also have advice on others, along with prenatal nutrition information.
RMA of CT Offers You a Free Session with a Personal Health Coach
If you’d like to find out more, contact us to access a complimentary, personal health coaching call (via screen share) as our gift to you during this stressful time. You must be an active patient of RMA of CT.
Your fertility care team wants you to know that we are all here for you during your infertility journey, no matter how long it takes or how stressful it can feel. We will do whatever it takes to minimize any feelings of helplessness or lack of control for you.
Infertility is a struggle, and that doesn’t just get “put on hold” because of social distancing, Covid-19, or self-isolation. You know that just as well as we do. So please, take us up on the offer to help you deal with this situation. You are not alone.
No matter the cultural, political, or economic climate, we are committed to supporting you in your journey. You are our number one priority.