The quality of our thoughts and attitudes are a powerful tool in shaping how our bodies function. In fact, a vibrant and continuing program of research from the field of Positive Psychology has provided an abundance of research into the ways we can build states of wellbeing through everyday ordinary habits and behaviors.
Every step you take in your fertility journey is taken with hope and trepidation. One of the many challenges in assisted reproductive treatment (ART) is to ride out the two-week wait (2WW), while also holding onto your sanity.
It’s not surprising that this is a time of whirling thoughts, excessive worry, and second-guessing everything that you feel in your body. One thing is for certain, there’s no right or wrong way to get through it. There’s a huge amount of advice on what to do and what not to do during this time which can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
The most important thing is to work out what works best for you.
The two-week wait is a unique time in ART. You’ve worked so hard to get there. You’ve put your body on the line, pushed through discomfort, and juggled life demands alongside treatment. If nothing else, taking a small pause to high five yourself for making it this far is definitely in order.
But, if you are like most women during this time, a micro-moment of joy will quickly disappear and be replaced with fear and worry about what’s around the next corner. Hope will be packed down into a private place deep inside yourself and each day you’ll get up, soldier on, and privately sweat it out, wishing for the days to pass as quickly as possible.
But, what if there’s a different way to approach this time in your treatment journey? What if you viewed each day of your two-week wait as an opportunity to nourish yourself, to find opportunities for self-compassion, and to soothe your thoughts and ease your tensions through self-care?
We’ve come up with a range of strategies, interventions, and ideas that are aimed at opening your heart, helping you to breathe, and creating space between the noise. It’s not a panacea, and some things will work at times and not at others. Be gentle with yourself.
- Make a list of five things that genuinely bring you joy. Keep this list in your wallet or on your phone and refer to it whenever you need a small upward lift.
- Motion changes emotion. Dance, sing and move in a way that brings you joy.
- Connect with what you love. Put love into practice by giving a hug, patting a pet, or caring for another. Joy resides in our connection to others.
- Do something fun. Make a list of all the things that you find fun as an adult. Do one or all these things over the next two weeks.
- Schedule a play date with your best friend or loved one. Suspend your reality for a few hours and just allow yourself to have a good time.
- Remember how far you’ve come. Using a journal, write down all the steps that you successfully navigated, overcame, or conquered to arrive at this moment.
- Strike a superhero pose. Creating the shape of pride can help you to feel pride in your body and not just in your mind.
- Plan an evening out with friends or a loved one. Whether it’s a special dinner, catching a sunset, or watching a show or movie — a night out filled with great conversation, laughter, and fun will give you a mental and emotional break.
- Book a weekend away or a retreat at your favorite location. Alternatively, set yourself an adventure to discover a new place, space, or location.
- Be consciously grateful. Every day during your 2WW, write down three to five things that you are grateful for and why.
- Practice gratitude. Download a gratitude app to help you capture, record, and reflect on moments of gratitude during this time.
- Visually capture day-to-day moments of gratitude. Use your camera to capture those moments that you find magical. Create a collage at the end of your 2WW to remind yourself that life is rich even during times of struggle.
- Be good to yourself. Schedule an appointment for a pampering session.
- A change is as good as a holiday. Consider doing something new or novel as a self-care strategy during the 2WW. Make room for it, say goodbye to excuses, and do it.
- Enjoy your favorite food (yes, ice cream can be food). Prepare or go out for your favorite food. Enjoy the pleasure of taking the first bite, savor every mouthful.
- Do small things often—take micro-holidays throughout your day. Get up and move around, make a cup of tea, eat a piece of chocolate, go for a walk, take a long and deep breath. These strategies might sound simple, but together they can change your experience of your day.
There are so many different, unique, and creative ways to thrive during the 2WW. Permit yourself to honor your efforts, to celebrate your courage, and put back a little bit of life into your life. Remember that your thoughts and worries are your brain’s way to remind you that this moment matters. Your thoughts will not go away, but it’s possible to put some balance back into the equation and give yourself a bit of time out. Be kind to yourself and remember you’ve done your best and that’s all you can do.