Why relaxation is important

Infertility can be a stressful experience. In fact, research has shown that an infertile woman can experience the same stress levels as a woman with cancer, AIDs or heart disease. Stress can also affect your ability to get pregnant whether through natural or assisted conception. One of the critical times to ensure you are relaxed if undergoing IVF is during the embryo transfer.

Below you will find some self-hypnosis relaxation techniques you can use to help let go of the stress and anxiety often experienced on the fertility journey and during infertility treatment. They can help you get into a relaxed state and some of which are forms of self-hypnosis.

7-11 Breathing

This technique utilises a natural biological relaxation process (increasing the amount of carbon dioxide you breathe in) as well as bringing your mind to the present moment.  Focusing on your breathing brings you back to the ‘here and now’ rather than time travelling to the future worrying about the next pregnancy test or fertility treatment outcomes.

  • Simply concentrate on your breathing and count from 1-7 as you breathe in and from 1-11 as you exhale.
  • You can count out loud or in your head but if possible out loud can make it more effective.
  • It doesn’t need to be big breaths, just normal relaxed breathing adjusting the pace of the counting to your breath.
  • Alternatively, you can count from 1 to 3 and 1 to 5 instead of 7 & 11 (which is what I do, having a small lung capacity).
  • After 10-15 breaths you may start to notice how much more relaxed you’re beginning to feel.
  • If your mind wanders just bring it gently back to your breath.  The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it any time, any place without anyone knowing what you are doing.

Special Place

Find somewhere comfortable and quiet where you will not be disturbed.

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a minute or so.
  • Then picture the most relaxing place you could imagine going to, whether it be somewhere you have been to before or somewhere you could imagine going to.
  • You can make this place whatever you want it to be.
  • Let your imagination go.  Just let yourself go there, noticing what you notice when you are there.
  • What about the place makes it so relaxing for you?  Is it what you can see, hear, feel or what you are doing?
  • Be aware of the detail that makes the difference.
  • Spend as long as you want to explore this place, soaking up the things about it that are so relaxing for you.
  • Take a photograph of this place in your mind so that you can return to it more quickly when you next want to.

Let It Out

  • Sit down with a notepad and a pen and write down “I am anxious because…” or “My thoughts and feelings about my fertility are…”
  •  then just write down what comes to mind.   You may be thinking that you don’t know what to write, in that case, write down ‘I don’t know’.
  • The trick is to keep the pen moving and keep writing.
  • Keep writing ’I don’t know‘ when you don’t know what to write and you may be surprised what feelings and thoughts come to mind that you were not aware of – things which have been affecting you subconsciously and impacting your stress levels and your belief that you can become pregnant.
  • The process of identifying these, writing them down and letting them out can be very therapeutic.

Mind Relaxation

  • Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath for five breaths.
  •  Now move your awareness to your mind. Begin to be aware of your thoughts, without judgment.
  • Notice how your thoughts come and go. Just like clouds passing.
  • Notice the speed of your thoughts.
  • Are they positive or negative?
  •  In whatever way you imagine it, imagine each thought passing through and away or floating away or settling like a snow globe – whatever comes to your imagination.
  • Begin to slow the thoughts down in whatever way you imagine doing that.  Slow your mind and thinking down perhaps by beginning to focus back on your breath.
  • Start to count as you inhale and exhale. Noticing the length of each.  Continue to count your breath for 10 minutes.

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