It’s that time of year again…
…The holidays are upon us and the baby you were hoping you’d have to share them with still isn’t here. Instead, you’re left wondering if the holidays will be any fun, or if they will just be stressful and maybe even a touch depressing.
And how are you supposed to feel any gratitude when you don’t feel like you’ve got anything to be grateful for?
The shortest and most honest answer is that maybe you won’t be able to. And that’s ok. What you are going through is really hard, and if you need to sit this one out, either mentally or physically, I understand. (Your mother-in-law may not, but I do!)
If, however, you’re hoping to find a way to experience something more than the fertility blahs this year, read on for a little bit of info on why gratitude can actually help, as well as some small steps you can take to get yourself started.
What is Gratitude Anyway?
I got out my dictionary, ‘cause yes, I’m old-school like that, and the definition I found is, “a kindly feeling because of a favor received; desire to do a favor in return; thankfulness.” Technically I suppose that’s correct, but gratitude is really much, much more!
In its broader form, gratitude involves recognizing and acknowledging the positive aspects of life, whether they are big or small, and expressing appreciation for them. It goes way beyond simply saying "thank you" when someone does something nice–in fact, it doesn’t need to involve another person at all!
Why Do People Make Such a Big Deal About Gratitude?
Because it can have a profound effect on many aspects of life! Research shows that generally speaking, people who actively practice gratitude are both happier and healthier. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that gratitude can be a helpful tool on your fertility journey:
It’s a coping mechanism.
Fertility problems bring disappointment and loss (sometimes perceived and other times sadly real). Gratitude can help you shift your focus from what is missing or challenging to what is still positive in your life. And that shift in perspective can be a powerful coping mechanism.
It helps you build resilience.
Struggling with fertility issues is emotionally draining, and I’m sure you’ve felt it all: from sadness to frustration, anger to jealousy. Practicing gratitude can help you build your emotional resilience as you find little moments of joy, love, and connection amid all the chaos.
It can strengthen relationships.
Nothing strains relationships quite like fertility problems, but expressing gratitude for the support and love received from your partner or other family and friends can actually strengthen those bonds.
It will make you kinder to yourself.
Feelings of inadequacy and self-blame tend to run rampant on difficult fertility journeys. Gratitude helps you foster self-compassion by giving you space to appreciate your own strength, resilience, and all your other amazing qualities.
It keeps you in the moment.
Gratitude is actually a form of mindfulness that can help you stay present in the moment. This is a great distraction from the stress and anxiety associated with fertility problems and medical treatments, so that you’re able to feel calmer as your journey continues.
How Can You Bring More Gratitude into Your Life?
Here are a few easy suggestions:
Keep a Gratitude Journal: Take a few minutes each day to write down the things you're grateful for. They can be simple, everyday things or more significant moments. If journaling appeals to you, you can read more about the 6 reasons you should have a fertility journal.
Gratitude Jar: Keep a jar and small pieces of paper handy. Whenever something happens that you're thankful for, write it down and place it in the jar. Review your notes from time to time.
Three Good Things Exercise: Reflect on three good things that happened during your day before you go to bed. Focus on the positive aspects and consider why they made you feel grateful.
Mindful Appreciation: When you’re doing something routine like eating a meal or folding laundry,, take a moment to savor and appreciate the experience. Pay careful attention to the details you observe with all five of your senses and express gratitude for them.
Gratitude Meditation: You can find lots of short gratitude meditations on the internet, or you can make up your own. As you meditate, focus your thoughts on things you're grateful for, sending positive energy to those aspects of your life.
Gratitude Walk: Take a mindful walk and focus on the things around you that you're grateful for—nature, the weather, or simply the ability to go for a walk.
Gratitude App: There are a lot of gratitude-focused apps that you can download with prompts, quotes, and other mindset-enhancing features.
None of these activities require a lot of time. Just a few minutes will do if that’s all you’ve got! The biggest key to success is consistency. Making sure you acknowledge the positive every day will set you up for an improved mindset, less stress, happier holidays, and an overall better fertility journey.