Self-care during chronic tough times
Sometimes, tough seasons can go on indefinitely, and the levels of support you need may vary depending on the day. During your infertility journey, you may notice that you have some days that just require a little motivation (anyone else bribe themselves when going to bloodwork?), other days where you need a little extra rest to recover from an emotional setback, and occasional times where you hit a huge wall or meltdown and need additional support. Below, we’ve created a little template to help you create a simple self-care plan to turn to no matter what kind of day you are having.
The 3 levels of self-care
Level 1 - a little motivation
You may be in need of level 1 self-care if you desire a little extra motivation for something you’re not looking forward to or even dreading, such as upcoming bloodwork, an upcoming medical appointment, or preparing notes, data and paperwork for a new specialist. What it looks like: choose a small treat or short activity.
Some self care options to consider:
Some chocolate after a blood test
A favorite drink
Watching a half-hour show during your lunch break
New stationery supplies that will bring you a little joy as you take notes and store medical files.
Level 2 - a little time to recharge
You may be in need of level 2 self-care if you require a longer break to help you regulate your emotions. This might be because your period has started, you’ve seen a pregnancy or birth announcement, you have just returned from a visit with friends or family with small children, or have such a visit coming up. Level 2 self-care could be beneficial before and/or after a challenging event. What it looks like: choose a treat, a longer activity, and remove a task from your workload.
Some self-care options to consider:
Enjoy a treat such as a favorite drink, snack or dessert. Planning ahead will allow you to get something that you’ll look forward to but won’t go against any dietary restrictions you might be following.
Set aside time for a longer activity like a movie after dinner, an hour to enjoy a show/book/magazine, a longer walk or run with a good playlist, a session of journaling or crafting.
Remove a task by ordering takeout for dinner, asking your spouse to cook, booking grocery delivery instead of going to the store, identifying a chore or errand that can wait until another day or next week without causing stress.
Level 3 - a major recovery and reset
You may be in need of Level 3 self care if you find yourself unable to function normally throughout the day, you’re overreacting to small things, highly irritable or very sad or depressed. This may happen due to a particularly disappointing negative pregnancy test, a very challenging announcement from someone else or multiple triggering events during a short period of time. What it looks like: we highly recommend taking a full day or half-day off for yourself. This could be over a weekend, or you may find it necessary to take at least a half day sick-day.
Some self-care options to consider:
Take a guilt-free nap
Watch a movie or two
Escape into a good book
Get out in nature
Have a favorite takeout meal
Speak to your spouse to give them a head’s up regarding any meal prep, errands or chores you may need to delegate or postpone in order to take this necessary time for yourself. If you find your symptoms don’t alleviate or they quickly return, you may also want to consider scheduling an appointment with a counselor or doctor to help get you the additional support you need.
Ways to use this resource
Planning ahead - When you know your bloodwork appointment is scheduled for tomorrow, your cycle is due next week or you have a get-together with your friend who has a newborn, use the attached worksheets ahead of time to jot down your self-care plan. When you are able to predict your needs ahead of time and plan your supports accordingly, you may find that your stress levels lower significantly.
In the moment - Sometimes you can’t predict when triggers or tough times will come your way. It’s not uncommon to occasionally experience a week when you are suddenly caught off-guard by your period, three pregnancy announcements, and an overwhelming number of newborns seated near you at church. If you find yourself emotionally overwhelmed, highly irritable, or feel like shutting down, those may be signs for you to pull out this resource, identify what level of self-care you need, and do something to help yourself.
Click here to download your own printable “Levels of self care” worksheets, which include both a set of example pages and a blank template for you to fill out with your own plan.
For further resources to help you along the infertility journey, check out our Resources Page.