Everyone can agree that we are all preparing for a holiday season unlike any other we have experienced before. Our social schedules will be lighter, and with the worries that COVID-19 presents, the holidays may be less merry as well. More this year than ever before, we can find our diet and exercise goals grinding to a halt while stress and anxiety rise.
If you’re undergoing fertility treatment or trying for a baby, this can only add to the challenge and stress of the holiday season. Even the most optimistic and upbeat fertility patients can find the holidays to be a challenging, sad time. While we can’t change the child-centric nature of the holiday, we can implement healthy habits to decrease stress and increase relaxation.
Follow the below 10 tips to get through the holiday season feeling happy and energized:
- Limit Sweets and Booze - We’re not saying you can’t indulge, but do so in moderation. Sugary treats will leave you craving more, and besides piling on the calories, you will endure the physical fog of a sugar crash. Alcohol dehydrates and is not recommended when you are trying to conceive, so limit to two glasses of wine per week. You’ll feel better if you have a mocktail after that glass of chardonnay.
- Opt for High-Quality Protein - Chicken, fish and legumes will be filling and help sustain energy levels. Protein and healthy fats also make up essential hormones and influence brain chemicals, stimulating and creating positive mood. This can help beat the baby blues you may be feeling. If you really want to supercharge your nutrition, consider adding an omega-3 supplement to ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients.
- Sleep - A lack of sleep can throw off the natural cycles in a woman’s body, and this includes ovulation. Make time for a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night, even if it means finishing that movie the next night.
- Prioritize Exercise - Long work days and earlier sunsets can make working out difficult, but if you prioritize exercise just like you would with work tasks, you will reap the benefits. A walk with the dog, early morning yoga session or short workout video can keep stress at bay and boost positive mood. Low-impact and moderate intensity exercise is optimal for fertility.
- Self-Care Check-In - Pick a time every day to check in with how and what you are feeling. Anxious? Suffering from a headache? Feeling depressed? Nervous butterflies? Tired? Then have an honest conversation with yourself about what you need. Maybe it’s time to put away the ovulation calculator and have a healthy snack, short nap, exercise break or five minutes of quiet breathing to clear your head.
- Reach Out - Find support in those you are closest with, and let them know you are having a hard time. Most of us have a friend or relative who can listen, be sympathetic and non-judgmental. Your partner may be able to fill that role.
- Make Meals Count - If you eat a healthy, filling meal before holiday festivities you will reduce unhealthy temptations. In addition to high-quality protein in your diet, veggies, fruits and whole grains will also provide healthy nutrients. If you are out finishing your holiday shopping tasks, prepare some snacks to eat safely in your car.
- Relaxation Strategies - When it comes to stimulating relaxation, there are few activities more beneficial than yoga. Yoga’s physical postures stretch and strengthen the body while the emphasis on breathing and active meditation can quickly heal and restore the mind and body. Our study found that doing yoga once a week for six weeks can reduce stress by 20% with infertility patients. If yoga isn’t for you, acupuncture and fertility-enhancing massage can boost your mood and your fertility potential.
- Positive Thinking - Even at times of feeling low (after a friend makes a pregnancy announcement or you see pictures on social media of a new baby) taking a time out to think about the things in your life for which you are grateful will bring you back into the light.
- Just Say No - Don’t be afraid to lay low this holiday season. Some find it especially difficult to be around children during the holiday season when they are longing for a child of their own.