Q: This is really hard for me to handle. What resources are available to me?
A: We know that the infertility treatment is often stressful. The conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic certainly add to that strain, but there are things you can do to cope. First, remember that your fertility nurse is likely experienced in providing emotional support for patients coping with infertility and pregnancy loss. Start by sharing what you are feeling with her/him. Your nurse also can connect you with your clinic’s specialized fertility counselor. This counselor can consult with you on how to manage the stress and emotions surrounding this extremely difficult set of circumstances. You also locate a fertility counselor through the Mental Health Professional Group of ASRM. Click here for a directory of mental health providers. The majority of these fertility counselors offer telehealth services that may be covered by your insurance carrier. Here are some additional ideas for coping:
- Get accurate and current information to reduce anxiety. Utilize reliable sources such as the CDC, WHO and ASRM.
- Limit your use of social media and other sources of news. Set a certain time of day for gathering news. Choose a time when you aren’t likely to be triggered. Stop using tech devices an hour or more before bedtime…turn them off.
- Utilize relaxation or mindfulness apps to reduce anxiety and tension and improve sleep. Focus on the present moment. Some examples are Ferticalm (for women), FertiStrong (for men), Buddhify, Headspace, MindshiftCBT, and Personal Zen.
- Engage in pleasurable activities and hobbies. What do you do for fun? Taking even ½ hour per day to focus on things other than the pandemic and your fertility journey will help.
- Pay attention to the messages you give yourself. Positive self-talk can be powerful. Saying things like “This isn’t the situation I expected but it doesn’t mean it won’t work out eventually” can be helpful.
- Stay in touch with others in your support network, either socially distanced or virtually. Staying connected with others reduces the sense of isolation. If you are experiencing Zoom fatigue, consider connecting on the weekend or after you’ve given yourself a break.
- Join RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association (www.resolve.org). RESOLVE has an online support community, local support groups (now meeting virtually), webinars and other content to help you connect, get support, and stay informed.