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Mindfulness: A method that helps infertile couples cope with stress

29.9.2021 · 3 min reading
Mindfulness: A method that helps infertile couples cope with stress thumbnail

Relaxing, tuning in to yourself and not letting yourself be controlled by thoughts are the basic principles of mindfulness, which has become an effective psychotherapeutic method for the treatment of depression, anxiety and chronic stress. Psychologists also recommend it for couples dealing with infertility. Why is mindfulness experiencing such a boom and how can it help you?

Mindfulness as a path to full consciousness

The tremendous interest in mindfulness is a response to the quick pace of modern life – the extreme pace at which we run our lives day in and day out, ignoring our own needs, a lack of rest, disconnection from our own body, and chronic stress with all its unfortunate consequences. “We are losing our minds in all this, we must wake up”, says the founder of mindfulness, Professor Jon Kabat Zinn, who defines this method as “mental training aimed at experiencing the present moment.” Its consists in deliberately paying attention to what is happening inside and around us, without judging this experience in any way.

Settling in your body

One specific mindfulness practice is a body scan, in which a person comes to a relaxing position and imagines parts of his body, from the toes to the forehead. During this “scan”, practitioners begin to become more aware of their body, including the emotions they experience in it – through mindfulness they learn to be an observer, to distance themselves from thoughts and emotions, and to begin to feel much safer in their bodies. As trauma specialist Besser van der Kolk puts it: “Once you start approaching your body with curiosity instead of fear, everything changes.”

Release from a vicious circle of thought

As research shows, body and presence awareness can cause profound changes in the mind and brain – mindfulness practitioners often describe far better recognition and regulation of emotions, they better express what they feel, they are settled in their bodies, anchored “here and now”, and they know that any emotions, pain and discomfort won’t last forever. This is why mindfulness is also recommended for couples struggling with infertility: This practice restores their feelings of control over their own body, allows them to emerge from a vicious circle of thought, and reduces the stress that treatment and trying for a baby bring.

Breathing = conscious attention = the path to full consciousness

Being fully in the present may seem very banal, but once you try mindfulness, you will find that the connection with the breath, the body, and the moment “here and now” is not easy at all. Some people get bored soon, others start thinking about the future, others think about things that have happened or are overwhelmed by an avalanche of thoughts that cannot be stopped. Your first task will be to return to your body and breath, which may discourage you after a while, but it pays to persevere. The advantage of mindfulness is that it you don’t need any expensive lessons and meditation rooms, you can practice it anytime, anywhere. The only drive you need is your will to persevere.

“Wherever you are, you can breathe consciously. Even if you are in a shopping centre full of people, or standing in line at the cash desk. You can do it in any position – standing, sitting, lying down or walking.” (Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh)

Less thinking, more experiencing the “here and now”

Whether you’re struggling with infertility or you have experienced failed IVF treatment, mindfulness is a good way to help you not only manage stress and feelings of loss of control over what’s going on in your life, it will also teach you to pay attention to your health, energy and time management. Many of those who have embarked on the path of mindfulness describe regret over how they previously neglected the basic needs of their bodies and minds and how now, in their daily care for themselves, their conscious attention has brought joy and well-being to their life. It’s up to us to use this knowledge to try to slow the world down a little bit every day.

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