Are you aware of how many stressors affect you every day? Do you know how to complete a stress cycle and avoid burnout? Stress is one of the key factors that stop women from getting pregnant. Stress hormones affect sex hormones, throw your cycles out and are the precursor to so many conditions.
Unless you are sitting in a cave meditating by yourself all day, then you’re guaranteed to have a regular supply of mini-stressors. This is the world that we live in. Combine the everyday mini stressors with the extra ones you get when you’re trying to get pregnant and this is a lot!
I know what it’s like to feel totally overwhelmed. When I was in my 20’s I got chronic fatigue. I learnt the hard way, got totally burnt out and was signed off work for three months. It forced me to take a good look at stress, the way I wasn’t processing stressors and allowing them to build up.
If you understand the stress cycle and how to complete it, then you can avoid stress getting stuck in your body. When you process stress hormones on a regular basis, then this will help you to produce the right levels of sex hormones needed to get pregnant.
You might be wondering what’s a mini-stressor and if it’s so small then how can that affect fertility? Like with most aspects of fertility it’s not about one thing alone, it’s the combined effect of many small things (mini stressors) that add up to make the big thing (hormone health). It’s surprisingly easy for mini stressors to build up:
- Imagine going to bed late, waking up and hitting your snooze button several times. This is your first mini stress of the day.
- When you get up you immediately check your phone and read a news article about how egg quality declines with age. Mini stressor #2.
- Feeling tired from night before and now a little stressed that you’re going to be late, you hurry into the shower and stub your toe on the end of the bed. This is #3 mini stress of the day.
- You need a boost and so you reach for a coffee, even though you’re trying to cut down because you’ve read that caffeine is not good for fertility. Another shot of mini stress.
- As you sit sipping your coffee and feeling a little guilty, you check Facebook for some distraction. You scroll through your feed until you find a pregnancy announcement, which makes you exit quickly. Mini stressor #5.
- You finish getting ready for work and as you’re doing your hair you spot another grey hair and feel old. Another mini stress.
- You’re feeling grumpy and so you snap at your partner on his way out of the door and then feel bad all day.
Can you see how easy it is to stack up the mini stressors? On a day like this, you could have seven mini stressors before you’ve even started work.
Major stressors are also common when you’re trying to get prengant:
- A major stress could be going to the doctor to get tests and hearing your results. Maybe the doctor says something that sticks in your brain and you replay it over and over, like “you’ve got old eggs and there’s nothing you can do to improve them.” Of course, this is going to make you feel depressed and create major stress.
- Maybe you have a miscarriage, which is not only a major stress for your body but also on your emotions and the thoughts you have. You can feel lost and alone for a long time after a miscarriage as you grieve for your baby. It can take a long time to feel like yourself again.
- Or maybe it’s the ongoing struggle of trying to conceive. All the effort that you put in each month hoping that this time it will work and you’ll get pregnant. Then you get your period and it feels like it will never happen. This ongoing pattern can be incredibly draining and lead to fertility burnout.
Fertility Stress And Burnout
What is the difference between fertility stress and fertility burnout? Feeling stressed happens to us all. We all experience mini stressors every day. If you make sure that you are clearing the stress, with your favourite exercise and some nutritious food, then this will stop it from building up and getting stuck in your body.
If you have several days, weeks or even months of mini stressors that build up, stress gets stuck inside your body, which wrecks your hormones and leads to burnout.
Burnout is when your body gets overwhelmed and then says, no more. Like when I was in my 20s and I pushed my body so hard, that I got chronic fatigue and couldn’t even walk to the end of my road without having to stop.
When you’re trying to conceive there are ongoing mini stressors and major stressors that can easily lead to burnout, like going for IVF or having a miscarriage.
Complete The Stress Cycle
Research shows how animals instinctively know how to complete the stress cycle. When a rabbit is being chased by a fox, it goes into the fight or flight stress response to help it run away. Its heart beats faster, blood is pumped faster around its body and it gets a rush of stress hormones. If it escapes, then it hides behind a bush and shakes through its whole body for 3-5 minutes and then happily hops off. The rabbit is processing the stress hormones through its body and completing the stress response. It is resetting its system so that the stress doesn’t get stuck in its body.
7 Ways To Complete The Stress Cycle
There are many ways of completing a stress cycle, here are a few options:
- Move your body – shake or stretch.
- Take 3 deep breaths.
- Go for a walk in nature.
- Have a 20-second hug.
- Smile, giggle and laugh.
- Chat with your bestie.
- Take an Epsom salt bath.
It doesn’t matter what you do but do something. Don’t let the mini or major stressors build up. Find what works for you and consistently do it.
All my best,
Rachel Bolton BSc (Hons), Lic. Ac., Lic. Tui Na.
I empower women to see themselves as Fertility Heroes and help them to optimise their fertility, get pregnant and have healthy babies.