By Ian Stones, fertility acupuncturist
There is no doubt that Christmas 2020 is going to be quite different to any Christmas we’ve ever had before
For many couples trying to conceive Christmas can be an uncomfortable reminder that they are yet to have the family that they so desperately want. And for those that have had a loss or recurrent failed cycles it’s a tough time.
In this blog I want to just chat a little about some of the positive things you can be doing to keep healthy and sane during the festive season whilst still enjoying yourself.
Taking a break – a time for self-nourishment
Christmas does generally allow us all some time to unwind, take a break from work and if you’re trying to conceive it’s pretty much the only time when clinics shut up shop. For some this is a welcome break and a chance to properly forget about things but for others it might create anxiety that time is being lost.
Christmas can be a great time to actually switch off from a lot of the other stuff around us. It’s a time for a little bit of self-indulgence (and I don’t mean excessive cake), a time to rest more and spend time with the people you love.
Why not give yourself a break from things like social media and fertility related content; perhaps give yourself a social media detox. Find something else that you enjoy doing such as walking, reading, exercise or just watching rubbish Christmas TV. It’s ok to take time for yourself, in fact I’d say it’s absolutely essential. Take that time and see it as a positive.
If you’re anxious that the clock is ticking and you’re missing the chance to continue treatment, see the Christmas down time as an opportunity to restore and replenish so that you can start afresh in the New Year with better energy. Allow yourself that time to really look after yourself and know that that’s a positive thing.
A bit of self-indulgence – it’s ok!
So on the note of self-indulgence….
Christmas is often seen as a time of excess. The office parties, the extra food, too much alcohol etc etc. There is no doubt that this year will be different with less social activities but temptation is still there!
Many couples who are trying to conceive are usually already working on their diet and have reduced things like caffeine and alcohol. But a bit of what you love isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s good for the soul.
I once had a client say to me “I live by the 80 / 20 rule” meaning she was good 80% of the time with a few treats here and there. That’s a not a bad shout and actually why not let your hair down at Christmas and have a few extra treats.
My only caution with that is don’t make any of it too excessive. We all know that too much alcohol, caffeine and sugar are bad for fertility so just keep things moderate. What’s important is that you enjoy it and don’t feel guilty about it. The odd mince pie and mulled wine isn’t going to make a huge difference, so enjoy!
For the men – 90 important days
Now my only caveat on the self-indulgence is for the men (sorry guys).
We know it takes around 90 days for sperm to mature. Many couples put off fertility treatment over the winter instead planning for the New Year and Spring. Energetically I like this idea as I often talk to my clients about living by the seasons. Spring is a great time to approach fertility treatment.
With that in mind, guys need to be planning at least 3 months in advance when it comes to their fertility. That means if you’re looking to have fertility treatment in March / April what goes on at Christmas is going to have an impact.
So much as it’s a great time to switch off and let your hair down, men still need to be keeping an eye on the things that affect their fertility such as:
Alcohol / Heat / Poor sleep / Stress/ Caffeine / Processed foods
So if you’re a guy who wants to keep his sperm health optimal for the spring, remember what you do over the Christmas season will only show up in your sperm quality 3 months later!
Sleep and routine
Personally, this is where I find things go a bit wonky over Christmas. With no pressure to get up early our routines tend to go out the window. Our bedtime creeps later and later and the dark mornings (in the northern hemisphere where I am) mean it’s all too easy to stay in bed.
What this inevitably means is January is a bit of a struggle whilst we get back to normal.
But there is more to it than that. Regular routine helps us sleep better and better sleep is incredibly positive for the body and our fertility.
So I’d encourage you to think about trying to maintain some kind of regular pattern where possible. Our bodies thrive on routine much as some of us try to resist it.
Follow nature’s lead
My training and background is based in Chinese medicine and one of the most important parts of that is tuning into nature and the environment around us.
Christmas often encourages us to do the polar opposite of what nature is leading us to do. Christmas often brings late nights and cramming too much in.
In Chinese medicine and culture winter is all about resting and restoring. It’s about storing our energy up ready for the spring. Just as we see in nature with animals that hibernate.
This is our time to restock the reserves, failure to do so often leads to a tiring start to Spring.
So take that time for early nights, good food and adequate rest. It will pay dividends in the New Year and Spring.
The emotional impact – family and friends
This can be by far the hardest area for some couples. Seeing so many children and family orientated activities day in and day out for the whole festive season can be exhausting.
Having the family and well-meaning friends asking “when are you having kids?” coupled with the pressure and stress of having extra family in the house, it can become a real hot pot of stress and emotion.
Each couple and each individual will have their own way of coping with these situations. There’s no right or wrong, what you feel and experience is just as valid as anyone else’s experience.
Talking is often one of the best ways to cope. Talking between yourselves as a couple is imperative whilst then finding things that you can do to relieve that pressure and stress.
Taking time for yourself, getting fresh air, exercising or just diving into a good book are all potential coping mechanisms. Find what works for you and don’t feel guilty about how you’re feeling or taking time out from the pressure of Christmas.
A final nod to balance
Ultimately, as with all things Chinese medicine, life is always about balance. Christmas is no different.
Make sure you balance activity with rest, less healthy food with good food. Time with family with time for yourself.
Treat yourself, enjoy yourself and put your feet up!
Wishing you a very merry, relaxed and healthy Christmas.
To get in touch with Ian, drop him a line by clicking here