Loving, trusting, or even accepting your body can be very difficult when facing fertility struggles. The problem with body-hating during infertility is that dwelling on negative thoughts can lead to a harmful self-talk cycle. And when you get stuck in that kind of pattern, it’s easier to become depressed and exhausted with the process of trying to conceive.
While there's no easy way out, here are a few tips to help you repair the relationship you have with your body while going through IVF.
Next time you’re beating yourself up, take a step back and ask yourself if you would ever say, those judgmental words to someone you care about, like a friend, sister, work colleague, or family member. Chances are, that answer is no. We’re more likely to be much harsher and crueler to ourselves than we would ever be to someone else. Try to be mindful of the way you talk to yourself and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer someone else.
Challenge negative thoughts
When you have negative thoughts about your body, take a moment to write them down, grounding them in reality and then question them. Are they based on fact, or are they assumptions? Where did you learn this? Is this helpful or hurtful? What would happen if you let go of this thought—would you be happier without it? While interrogating your negative thoughts about your body may be challenging at first, mindfulness around these patterns can help you correct your thinking.
Find a community
One of the best things you can do during this time is seek out support groups, forums, or empathetic friends who have experienced fertility challenges. You’ll probably be surprised to find out that many people share similar frustrations with their bodies. Sometimes, the best way to start offering compassion to your own body is to begin offering that compassion to someone else. This doesn’t have to happen in-person, either—online communities or an influencer that you follow on social media can also be a good place to start.. You can introduce healthier ways of looking at your body by filling your online feeds with positive, healthy body image representations rather than unrealistic, edited, and curated profiles.
Remember all the things your body can do
This isn’t always easy, but if you can, try to keep in mind all the amazing things your body is capable of. Reminding yourself of your body’s strengths can be a huge confidence boost. Try writing a top ten list of all the ways your body is supporting you through the difficulties of IVF and look at it whenever you’re feeling down to cultivate gratitude.
Therapists are not only great sounding boards during times of stress, but they can also help teach you coping strategies. Therapy can help you improve your self-awareness so you can combat your thoughts about your body and develop a more positive, grateful, realistic perception of your body. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, Maven has mental health specialists who specialize in fertility struggles, and you can always reach out.
Sometimes it feels hard to speak to your partner, close friends, or family members about your struggles, especially as time goes on. Even if you’re not in the mood to open up to someone else, journaling can help you get your feelings out and be a tool for you to process your emotions.
Let yourself off the hook
Building a positive relationship with your body can take time and work, but it’s possible. You’re allowed to wallow in self-pity from time to time, and you deserve to pamper yourself. Get a massage, go on a long walk, and turn off your cell phone; or use some paid time off work to take a mental health day. Sometimes unplugging from day-to-day stressors can be just what you need to get through a rough patch.
How Maven can help you feel more positive about your body
It can feel impossible to stop criticizing yourself, especially during the emotionally and physically demanding process of IVF. But your body is working hard—and criticizing it isn’t helpful or productive. Check out clinically-vetted content on the Maven app about how to focus on self-care like exercise and healthy eating that may improve your well-being and help you talk to yourself in a healthier way. If you’re looking for additional help, sign up for access to Maven to speak with a Maven Mental Health Specialist or other providers who can support and guide you through this difficult time.
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