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The A.R.T. of Radical Self Care



Are you scheduling yourself into your calendar? 


Are you making time for self-care while you are trying to conceive?


Practicing radical self-care is important for anyone going through fertility challenges and treatments. Radical self-care is consciously taking responsibility for putting yourself first, and it’s essential to your overall wellness and fertility. 


While self-care may conjure up thoughts of warm baths, massages, and manicures, that’s not exactly what I am referring to while trying to conceive. 


Infertility can be a sad, lonely, frustrating, and nerve-wracking time, and dealing with fertility challenges requires you to regularly nurture yourself. 


Self-care is about treating yourself the way you would treat a friend or family member in need. We are often so hard on ourselves and are quick to blame ourselves that we forget this. 


Self-care is giving yourself grace.


When you are taking care of a plant and encouraging it to grow, the plant requires a few things, including food, water, sunshine, and TLC. Our bodies are similar, and we must give our bodies the tender loving care it needs as well to bloom and flourish. 


You can get through this challenging time by behaving and acting in ways that put you first and help you navigate through the highs and lows of infertility. 


While food, water, and sunshine are an important component of self-care, these are a few tactics that you can use daily while trying to conceive that speak to radical self-care. They will help you feel more at ease, less anxious, and able better able to cope.


Get to bed early


This is a wonderful way to boost your mental and emotional energy and feel more grounded.


Start getting ready for bed at 8 pm, read a book, journal, and then lights out. 


Getting to bed early is a great way to not only feel more refreshed, able to think more clearly, and feel less irritable and anxious, but getting restful sleep plays a huge role in regulating your hormones. 


Get on the NO train


I heard this phrase first from Marie Forleo. It’s about saying no to doing the things you don’t want and need to do, to events that may trigger unwanted emotions, and to prioritizing your needs. 


Getting pregnant, especially with IVF, can feel like a part-time job, and you need to take an inventory of what you can let go of, so you and your well-being become a priority. 


Consider reducing your workload, managing your time differently, and scheduling time for you on your calendar. A good rule of thumb before agreeing to do something is to ask yourself, “will this help me or harm me?” For example, “will going to my friend’s baby shower help me or harm me?”


Visualize the outcome


Visualizations while trying to conceive can help you better understand your body, slow you down, relax your mind, and help you set aside time to feel fully present and calm. 


Additionally, your mind cannot decipher what is real versus what is not, and using visualizations helps your body believe what your mind is seeing, which helps create a fertile state.


Focus on your breath 


When you breathe deeply — slowing down your breath and making your exhales longer than your inhales — you stimulate the vagus nerve. This moves your body from a state of fight or flight to one that can rest, digest, and receptive to reproduction. 


I suggest creating a mental trigger to remind yourself to do this. Mine is when I am in my car and stopped at a traffic light. That stopping at a light reminds me to take a few deep belly breaths. 


One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 Breath, where you breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7, and forcefully exhale for 8. Or, you can simply breathe mindfully, making your exhales longer than your inhales.


These four strategies are a few that have helped my clients get through the stress of fertility treatments. But, I encourage you to create your self-care routine based on your interests and what resonates with you as long as you are consistent


Regularity in self-care is key for lasting benefits, and enjoying the process helps it become a habit. One way to do this is by creating an ongoing list for yourself – perhaps in the Notes app of your phone – of what you enjoy doing that brings you joy and calm. 


Schedule it in your calendar, set an alarm on your phone, or create a mental trigger for yourself to help you remember to do this. That reminder can be when you brush your teeth, when you’re stopped at a traffic light, or while in your car when you return home from work and before you head inside. 


Creating a habit of radical self-care enables you to be more in control of your thoughts and emotions and builds resilience during fertility challenges.