Holidays are intended to be a time of celebration and bonding with those you love. However, it can be something that you might dread, especially if you struggle to deal with nosy relatives. On the one hand, you might feel sad that you are unable to share the same happiness as your friends, when you see them with their kids. While on the other hand you have to deal with family members who always seem to be eager to pop the question “Why aren’t you pregnant yet?”  Such situations result in stress. One of the biggest reasons or causes of stress is Expectations — those that others have of us and those we impose upon ourselves.

Studies have shown that stress contributes significantly to infertility, so here are a few pointers that can help you focus on the positive things, and have a joyful holiday!

  1. Give yourself a break: Instead of thinking about fertility treatments, how much you want a baby, take some time off! Get out of town, volunteer with the local community, or learn about Hari Raya celebrations in different cultures. Doing something different together with your partner or all by yourself will bring back the joy of the holiday.

  1. Be prepared: You can never skip the family gathering and you know that certain people will ask certain questions. Don’t feel angry if Auntie Fatimah asks for the thousandth time why you are not pregnant yet…pre-empt her by telling her that you are not yet pregnant! Tell them straight that you are sad that she won’t be celebrating the next holiday season with a little one, but that you are also very happy with your husband and career. Anticipate those awkward moments, and get yourself mentally prepared.
  1. Start new traditions: Instead of facing awkward moments, you might want to treat yourself to something exciting. You could do that by starting a new holiday tradition in itself! Going for an overseas trip with close family that understands your situation, instead of spending time with those people you only see once a year. This is perhaps the only time you can enjoy the holiday with your significant other before the arrival of the little one, so you might want to plan something special as well!
  1. Breathing exercises: Our breathing pattern changes if we get anxious, this results in shallow breathing. The following breathing technique helps calm down and reduces anxiety quickly. You can do this anywhere, all it takes is 5-10 minutes to steady your breathing and thus increase oxygenation to help you feel clearer and more energized. It also helps to relax the muscles, and lower blood pressure and cortisol. You can choose to stand, sit or lie down in a relaxed position and close your eyes. Inhale into the belly for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then exhale slowly for 8 seconds. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, and then slowly open your eyes. This should get you relaxed almost instantly after being bombarded by awkward questions. ;)
  2. Do what you love: Remember what you love to do – what makes you feel happy and peaceful – and you must definitely make time for it! Pamper yourself and give yourself a pat for putting in so much effort so far in this journey. Cherish every moment you have of your life to date. Sing, dance, write, read, paint, or even take a walk daily – do whatever makes you feel healthy on an emotional front. Stay closer with your partner as a couple coping with infertility. You surely need all the joy and laughter you can have. Forget about guilty feelings, let go of others’ expectations. Listen and stay connected to your heart.
  3. Get enough sleep: In order to stay healthy and happy over the holidays, make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep. For those who are already having a hectic schedule at work, this might be the best time for naps or sleep-ins. The more rested you are, the less stressful it will be to cope with.