Friday, March 30, 2012

Play: Go Get Some

Do you remember when you were a kid and you'd play hide-and-seek with a few kids in the neighborhood?  Or maybe you were the one who got some of the other kids together and put on a play for your neighborhood?  Perhaps you pretended you were a rock star and wielded that broom stick the likes of which no 80s hairband had produced thus far.

Wasn't that fun?

Do you still have that much fun?

I recently read this article about the importance of play, and even though it's mainly geared toward parents, I realize that those struggling to be parents (who may or may not already have kids) could use some serious play therapy in their lives. 

The article says, "we are often caught in the hustle and bustle of the importance of our own lives.  In general, our society has become plagued with an unrelenting motion of doing, rarely giving way to kindness or compassion or living life to its fullest."

You know that "unrelenting motion of doing," don't you?  "Okay, where's my fertility calendar?  Yeah, only 9 days to go before ovulation.  So that means, we have to have intercourse on these dates (yes, it's that formal) -- oh wait!  We have a dinner that night!  We're going to have to double up the night before then.  Ugh, I'll be so tired.  Oh well...gotta do what we gotta do."

What happened to the fun, you ask?  I think it was thrown in the round file along with all of those OPK (ovulation predictor kit) sticks and used fertility-med needles.  Buh-bye Fun!  Hello Business of Baby Making!

So, why play?  The article suggests, "In an age that we are frequently overworked, underpaid, and stressed; play decreases our anxieties, our negative thinking, while increasing our own imagination."

I would add, in the infertility world, play helps us to let go of the "have tos" for a moment and do the "get tos."  Remember how excited you were when your homework was done and you got to do whatever you wanted?  You got to rest your left-brain analytical side and engage the right-brain creative side of you.  Both are needed for appropriate balance.  How about hello to Wellness?

Needless to say, the get-'er-done attitude of baby-making resides mostly in the left brain.  And it's where the infertile person resides 24/7.  Though I haven't researched it (yet), I'm willing to bet that this is even during sleep.

Give it a rest!  Go play!  The article suggests playing peek-a-boo in the mall with another adult.  Um, I'm not going to go that far.  Ha!

What will you do to get your play in today? 


Be well,
~M


Friday, March 23, 2012

8 Hugs a Day

I'm hokey sometimes.

Okay, maybe a wee bit more than sometimes.  What can I say?  I dig the smiles that are brought on by cheesy lines of hope.  Occasionally the smile is in tandem with an eye-roll, but it's all good. 

I'm enjoying this particular post, however, because it's the first time I can put it out there in writing that my hokey-ness is backed up by research.  I dig research almost as much as smiles (I'm a hokey nerd), so I'm delighted when I get to read new, interesting articles that can affect the way my clients live their lives in a positive way.

Infertility is no joke.  The emotional roller coaster that one must ride when faced with this ridiculously difficult disease is not unlike the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  That's right, folks.  Research shows that infertility is a life crisis not unlike a cancer diagnosis.  So, when I come across something (anything!) that can help someone struggling with this disease, I want to spread it around. 

Today, I received an article from Positive Psychology News Daily about the neurotransmitter oxytocin and how it behaves in our bodies.  Though I won't go into the details of the article here, the main gist is "oxytocin is released in the body when we feel safe and connected and tells the brain, 'Everything is all right.'"  It also reduces the amount of the stress hormone, coritsol, in the body (most people understand the whole stress thing). 

Lightbulb!  Infertility makes one feel out of control, isolated, stressed out, and as if nothing will ever be right again. Oxytocin to the rescue!  How do we get us some of that?

Oxytocin is naturally ocurring, and is released when one merely thinks of someone they love, during cuddle sessions, or thinking of happy faces to name just a few. (It's also released during breast-feeding -- a big "grrrr" to wanna-be-breast-feeding-moms out there struggling with infertility.)

One could also find it synthetically, though a brief Google shopping search brought up a vial of injectible oxytocin used to assist mammals in giving birth (grrr again).  With fertility treatments involving a billion needles, I'd say skip the vial and go the natural route.

The article references a TED talk where Dr. Zak (also known as "Dr. Love") suggests increasing your oxytocin levels by hugging someone 8 times a day.  I'm assuming he means hugging someone you know, although I haven't watched the entire video yet.  Visions of random NYC subway train hugging come to mind....I'm thinking oxytocin would not be a part of that scene.  Just sayin'.

With that, here's your Coping with Infertility Rx of the month:  8 Hugs a Day

Who will you hug?


Be well,
~M

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Blog Title

When I was in the midst of my infertility struggle, it was madness and darkness nearly every day.  Colors literally seemed more dull, I was sad constantly, and thanks to those fabulous fertility drugs, well, let's just say my thoughts weren't always rational.

I don't know anyone who has struggled with infertility who hasn't felt the same way at times.  It's a dark and dreary place, to be sure.  Sometimes the hopelessness is relentless.  Whenever you look up and around and attempt to live your life, there's that black cloud staring you down.  Sometimes it's the general feeling of sadness.  Sometimes it's in the form of parents with their babies or a hugely pregnant belly or even a baby store. 

The constant reminders of what you don't have (and desperately desire) practically taunt you.  "Na-nee-na-nee you can't have me!"  You know Eeyore?  'Nough said.  

When I was in the midst of this sadness and desperation, I came across a quote by Wayne Dyer, who's one of my favorite speakers and writers.  He said, "Even when you're in the gutter, you have the option of looking up at the stars." 

It really stuck with me.

I could continue taking a look around at my immediate surroundings (the gutter), or I could grasp onto the tiniest bit of hope that all would be well (look up at the stars).  Somehow, this was super comforting to me.  I didn't feel so stuck.  I had choices!

This is a quote I use often in my practice as I help others navigate infertility, adoption, and a plethora of other mental health issues.  Afterall, we all struggle, right?  We all want to feel some semblance of control, which is something we often lose when dealing with difficult times.  Sometimes the weight of our struggles are too heavy for us to look up at the stars, and that's okay, too.  At least the option is there.

The option is always there.

Hence, a blog title was born.

Be Well,
~M