As the sun begins to shine and the days get longer, we dig out shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops from the backs of wardrobes and start turning our thoughts towards the holiday season. The idea of taking a well-deserved break and chilling out should bring a big smile to our faces, but for those in various stages of treatment, those gearing up for their first IVF cycle, and even those trying naturally whilst sticking to a healthy fertility lifestyle, taking a holiday can actually feel like a daunting prospect.
So how can you meet the demands of your fertility regime and still find ways to enjoy what should be a relaxing and enjoyable time of year?
Well firstly, take a moment to reflect on how you might be feeling. For whatever reason, falling pregnant naturally hasn’t happened for you so far and working towards this goal might have become a stressful process. You may have had to dig deep to find an extra reserve of emotional and physical energy to keep trying and doing everything within your power to improve your chances of conception; from monitoring every aspect of your cycle, getting your timings right and feeling in the mood for sex, to attending medical appointments and being creative with a healthy diet and balanced exercise plan.
You may feel that your life has been put on hold whilst trying to conceive and worry that taking a break will undo all the hard work you’ve put into achieving your optimum fertile health. You may not feel able to book a holiday because all your finances have been diverted towards treatment. Perhaps you don’t know how to plan your break as it’s hard to know exactly when you’ll be in treatment, so you can’t commit to travel dates. Or maybe you just don’t feel in the mood for holidaying.
However, there are many mental and physical benefits to taking time out from our busy lives – no matter what our individual pressures are. This doesn’t have to mean spending several weeks lying on the beach in a far-flung exotic location though! Simply having a change of scenery, switching off from our to-do lists, even just going outside and getting some fresh air; breaks are generally considered to be a very good thing. This is no different when you’re trying to conceive (TTC).
Try to think about a holiday or break as a positive step and part of your TTC plan – the recovery period if you like. Think of it as Taking Time out, Consciously. You will start to feel more in control if you see taking a holiday as a truly positive step on your fertility journey. It will give you a chance to take a breather, get a different perspective and allow yourself to rest, re-energise and recuperate – particularly important if you have been through fertility treatment. Trust me, your mind, body and soul will thank you for it!
Here are my top tips for summer holiday happiness whilst trying to conceive:
- Get your summer break booked: Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. If a full week isn’t an option, then how about a mini-break? If you’re in treatment then a UK break could give you more flexibility, and if you feel really restricted then how about a weekend retreat, spa, or yoga break? If finances are stretched, get creative – why not visit those friends you haven’t seen in a while? Or hunt down a bargain on Airbnb?
- Consider a break from monitoring: Daily temperature charting and tracking of all the fertile signs, alongside timed intercourse, can feel stressful if not arduous at times. Giving yourself permission to take a break from fertility monitoring can be wonderfully freeing and extremely empowering. Think about whether a few days, a week or even a month off might be right for you.
- Enjoy each other: Wherever or however you decide to take a break, make the most of being together and enjoy nurturing your relationship. Having time out is all about taking away the pressures of the day-to-day routine. Take advantage of your free time as a couple and reconnect. Notice what it is you love about each other, be romantic, be intimate, be sexy, but above all – have fun!
- Explore the outdoors: Walking outdoors is a great way to take time out and create some headspace. Walk alone, walk with friends or your partner, walk in silence, or walk whilst chatting – just walk! And those of you fretting about your workouts, ditch the gym in favour of outdoor exploration – you’ll still get your steps in!
- Be Mindful: Mindfulness is the new meditation these days. If worries or negative thoughts are creeping in whilst you’re on your break, then finding yourself a good five-minute guided visualisation to listen to will help keep these in check. Allowing yourself the time to drift off and focus only on what you are hearing in the moment will help your mind to calm and reset. If that’s not your thing, an audiobook can work equally well to help your brain to switch off, giving you a different story to focus on, and a little holiday from any unwanted thoughts!
- Use the 80:20 rule: Especially when it comes to healthy eating, there is always a happy medium to be found. Whilst there are times when sticking to the really good stuff is excellent and necessary, allowing yourself to be flexible with the regime is also a healthy approach. Why not try the 80:20 rule? Letting your hair down for 20% of the time gives you a little break without impacting on the overall result too much. A full day off? A little each day? Whatever works for you!
By softening the rules and relaxing the regimens just for the short term, you will allow yourself space to breathe – mentally, emotionally and physically – and find that instead of adding to your stresses, your summer holiday is in fact just the boost you need to keep you going on your fertility journey.
Enjoy your little bit of summer!
About the author
Alison Fuller is a Reflexologist (Reproflexology™), Fertility Massage Therapist and Hypnotherapist who specialises in women’s health. She typically treats hormonal imbalance in relation to fertility, pregnancy, miscarriage and menopause, as well as many of the associated emotional and physical stresses that accompany these issues
For more information and for ‘Hypnosis for Deep Relaxation’, a free 30-minute audio download, visit www.thehormonaltherapist.co.uk.