5 Ways to Find Joy and Avoid Toxic Positivity During Infertility
The doctors and staff of RMA Long Island IVF have been helping infertile people become parents for over 31 years and many on the staff have been patients of the practice ourselves – – so we’ve seen patients struggle with feelings of stress, negativity, and hopelessness at various parts of their journeys and we’ve felt it ourselves as patients.
One of the greatest challenges is helping a patient remain hopeful and find joy in their life while they are undergoing infertility treatment. And at the same time, being mindful not to serve up “toxic positivity”.
While authentic positivity—a genuinely happy, unstressed sense of being--may potentially be beneficial to one’s physical and emotional health, trying to force positivity and happiness on someone who is struggling can be detrimental and can backfire.
“Toxic positivity” often manifests itself in well-intentioned, but ill-received and empty inspirational phrases like “Smile, it’s not so bad” or “Just think positive”. These phrases may not only minimize or invalidate the recipient’s feelings or worries, but can make them feel unsupported or misunderstood. Rather than making them feel more positively about their situation, it could result in them feeling shame, becoming more depressed, or ceasing to share their feelings in the future.
So, at RMA Long Island IVF, we try to offer helpful tips and thoughtful encouragement to help patients find some happier moments despite being in the throes of infertility treatment. That way, the time they will someday look back on as the “infertility journey” will also include a sprinkling of happy memories with friends and family.
We understand that sometimes it takes great effort just to get out of bed much less get out and do something fun when thoughts of infertility and its treatment are ever-present. Sometimes the best we can do, depending on what we are dealing with in our journey, is to take things a day-- or even an hour-- at a time. Is there anything we can do for a temporary distraction from the stress or sadness? Is there anyone we could see, anything we could do or any place we could go for a little bit of relief? Here are 5 things you can do to reclaim your joy and avoid toxic positivity:
1) Reflect on what once sparked joy
Sometimes the answers to those questions can be found in stopping and reflecting on the person you were before infertility disrupted everything. Can you even remember what made you happy back then? What did you do for fun? What made you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally happy and healthy? What made you smile and laugh? If you’re able to identify that dormant positivity within you, you may be able to tap into it again-- if only for sporadic rejuvenation of your spirit.
2) Take a mini vacation
We are lucky to have countless activities for every imaginable interest on Long Island and summer is one of the best times of year to enjoy them. Many events are free so those who are conserving money to finance fertility treatment can enjoy them without guilt.
3) Go outside
For many, the grounding that comes from your bare feet being in touch with the earth is energizing, so walk barefoot when you can. Water is also soothing for many people, so get in and get floating. The sun and sand of our beaches can be uplifting. The vineyards and organic farms and historical sites can be relaxing distractions. Music lovers might find peace at free concerts on beaches and in towns all over Long Island nearly every night of the summer.
4) Get your yoga on
Those who enjoy relaxing in our “Yoga for Fertility” class with Lisa Pineda each April during National Infertility Awareness Week, might want to contact Lisa Pineda Yoga directly for more information if you are interested in yoga classes. She is hosting yoga on the beach on certain weeknights during the summer.
5) Talk to someone who understands
We also recognize that sometimes the burden of infertility can be too hard to bear alone for some people. If you’re finding it difficult to function in your daily life, we offer compassionate counseling by trained infertility specialists. Individual and group counseling is available. Sometimes talking it out with others who are currently walking the same path can help you feel less alone, gain coping strategies, and even result in lifelong friendships. New groups are forming this summer. Call for more information.
What do you do to find some joy while struggling with infertility?