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How to Reduce Stress as You Return to the Office

How to Reduce Stress as You Return to the Office

When COVID-19 became a threat in March of 2020, several measures were put in place to help curb the spread of the virus. In addition to mandatory mask-wearing and stay-at-home orders, many companies began implementing remote work policies which saw employees working from home instead of commuting to the office. Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and we’ve seen many strides in overcoming the pandemic. With many people now vaccinated and as quarantine restrictions become looser, companies around the world are requiring employees to return to the office as we try to usher in a post-COVID lifestyle.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be quite happy to return to the office, or you may be dreading it. Many people have come to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home and the benefits it provides, such as reducing transportation and clothing expenses and the ability to take care of children and pets while working. Others miss their pre-COVID routines of commuting to an office because it allowed for better separation of personal and professional life. Others are simply more productive in an office setting or enjoy being able to interact with their coworkers. Regardless of your feelings towards returning to the office, it will certainly be a big transition for all of us after a year and a half of getting accustomed to remote work.

Evaluate Your Concerns

There are many understandable concerns that you may have about returning to the office. Maybe you’re concerned about the virus itself and whether a return to work may cause you to get sick. To help ease this anxiety, consider the methods you can use to keep safe. If you and your coworkers are vaccinated, there is a significantly smaller chance of contracting or spreading the virus. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to continue practicing social distancing, frequent sanitizing of your hands and wearing your mask. By using these safety measures, you can feel a bit more confident in your ability to stay healthy, which can help to ease your anxiety.

Maybe your concerns are about a lack of flexibility that may come with returning to the office. If you have come to enjoy working remotely and want to continue doing so, you may wish to consider all your options. Is there any room for negotiating with your employer? It may be possible to come to an agreement about a hybrid system where you come in office some days and work from home on other days. Otherwise, you may want to consider transitioning out of your current job by searching for one that allows for remote work. For many people, the pandemic was the catalyst they needed to make positive changes towards a more rewarding career.

Focus on the Positives

We all know the many benefits of positive thinking. Positive thinkers are better able to cope with challenging or distressing situations and tend to have better mental and physical health. By taking an optimistic view of a situation, it can become a lot more manageable, but by focusing on the negatives, the experience is likely to be a drag.

Even if you are reluctant to return to the office, see if you can find something to look forward to about heading back. One benefit of working in an office is the ability to better separate your personal and professional life. For many people who work from home, work never seems to stop because there is no real line of demarcation between the office and the home. Coming home to your comfort zone after a day of work is often a satisfying feeling because you’re able to leave work at the office, which is a lot more difficult when you work at home.

Another potential positive about returning to the office is an increase in productivity. For many workers, the home office is a place of many distractions such as family members, pets or the doorbell. A lot of people are able to perform more efficiently in an office setting, leading to a better quality of work and higher satisfaction on the job.

For many people, lockdown was a lonely time and a return to the office brings a welcome opportunity to interact and socialize with colleagues. Teamwork can be a lot easier and more fun when teammates are working together in person. Though Zoom is convenient, there’s nothing quite like collaborating and brainstorming in person.

Setting Boundaries at the Office

Working in an office makes it easier to leave work at work. You’re better able to set boundaries with your time and manage people’s expectations of you. Now is the time to evaluate the boundaries that you wish to set with your coworkers and superiors. Maybe you will not answer work-related calls or emails after 5:00 and on the weekends. This kind of boundary might have been more difficult to set when working from home, because there may be an expectation that you are always on the clock.

In a post-COVID world, we also need to consider setting boundaries with our physical space. Whether or not you are vaccinated, it’s still a good idea to continue practicing social distancing as much as possible. You may have to prepare yourself to set boundaries regarding handshakes, hugs and other physical contact, depending on your own comfort level. If these kinds of conversations are difficult for you, try practicing them ahead of time so you will know exactly what to say to coworkers if the need arises.

Make Self-Care a Priority

As with any major life transition, it’s important to practice self-care to ensure that your physical and emotional needs are being met. You may need to create a new self-care routine that is compatible with your life at the office. For example, you may wish to develop a new morning routine to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable start to your days. Ensure you are keeping a healthy sleep schedule by going to bed at an early enough time and at about the same time every night. Starting your day with sufficient rest, a healthy breakfast and even a spiritual practice can lead to a better day at the office.

Here at Flourish Psychology, we understand that work contributes to your overall happiness and sense of purpose in life. Counseling with a therapist can help you to identify and work towards a more satisfying and fulfilling career, while reducing work-related stress or anxiety. To schedule your first session, contact us today.

5 Ways to Decrease Ongoing COVID Stress

5 Ways to Decrease Ongoing COVID Stress

We have been living with COVID-19 now for nearly 16 months and there has been an immense amount of progress when it comes to the number of infections across the states decreasing. Through social distancing, mask-wearing, and the high availability of receiving the vaccine, we are beginning to see the world open up again across the country. People are able to see their loved ones after a year of isolation, enjoy restaurants and museums, and even walk outside without the need for a mask (if vaccinated). 

While life seems to be increasingly getting back to the pre-COVID days, the psychological effects that the pandemic has had on the population are still very relevant. According to the Center for Disease Control (2020), a staggering 40% of U.S. adults have reported mental health issues and an increase in substance use since the beginning of quarantine back in March 2020. 

The leading mental illness that people have reported experiencing is anxiety, and it appears that people are struggling with getting back to “normal” life. If this sounds familiar, there are various coping skills and tips to try to ease the anxiety of our new way of life to be able to enjoy it to the fullest  Below are just a few ways to cope with COVID anxiety:

1. GET MOVING

Has anyone ever told you how exercising can help ease anxiety? Being active and finding an enjoyable way to move our bodies has various benefits that directly help in building resilience against anxious thoughts and feelings. Increasing your heart rate raises levels of important anti-anxiety neurotransmitters such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid. Serotonin is often referred to as the “happy hormone” due to its natural mood-stabilizing components; since getting your heart rate up naturally increases serotonin levels in the brain, regular exercise can aid in reducing stress and anxious thoughts, especially during the pandemic (Ratey, 2019).

2. Get enough sleep

One of the most prevalent symptoms of anxiety is excessive worrying, and now more than ever there is no shortage of worry amongst the population. People who experience intense worrying often ruminate about their concerns while trying to fall asleep; the unease and anxiety that comes with worrying thoughts makes it very difficult to fall and stay asleep (Suni, 2020). When we don’t get enough sleep, we feel even more anxious during the day and often we are too exhausted to engage in anxiety-reducing activities, such as exercise, and then the cycle continues. 

If this sounds familiar, you are certainly not alone and there are various things you can do to lessen those worrying thoughts and get a good night’s sleep:

  • Turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before bed 
  • Write all of your worrying thoughts in a journal at the end of the day 
  • Sip on some calming tea, such as chamomile or ginger to help you feel sleepy
  • Read a couple chapters in a book to get your mind off of your worries 
  • Listen to calming music or a podcast 
  • Start a meditation practice – even 5 minutes every night before getting into bed can ease tension and help you let go of your worries  

3. Stay connected

While we are finally able to safely be around our loved ones again, many people have become so used to staying home that just the thought of socializing causes major anxiety. On the other hand, socialization increases the hormone oxytocin which decreases anxiety levels and helps us feel more confident and resilient! If going to a public place is too difficult right now, then make sure to schedule in calls and video chats with your friends and family on a regular basis. Try setting a reminder on your phone to get in touch with your friends and family at least once or twice a week. Even a simple “thinking of you” text can make us feel more connected and less stressed! Reaching out to others helps us reroute our focus from our own anxieties to caring for the important people in our lives (Socialization and altruistic acts as stress relief, n.d.).

4. Stay informed, but limit news input

We all need to stay informed on the latest news regarding COVID-19 in order to ensure the safety of ourselves and others. With that being said, looking at the news 24/7 can be harmful to our mental health and cause unneeded stress and anxiety. In fact, people have shown an increase in anxiety and negative emotions after watching only 14 minutes of the news on TV (Johnston & Davey, 1997).

In order to combat news anxiety, there are a few tips and tricks that can really help ease the strain that the news can take on your mental health:

  • Set time limits and only look at the news once or twice a day, and not before bedtime!
  • Manage your news notifications so that you are only receiving important updates regarding COVID-19 that are important for ensuring your safety
  • Subscribe to positive news outlets such as Upworthy or Some Good News. Reminding ourselves that there is good in the world can aid in relieving anxiety and focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.
  • Practice lots of self care! Take yourself on a long walk while listening to your favorite podcast, watch a silly TV show, or draw yourself a bubble bath. Self care is more important now than ever before.

5. Ask for help

The therapists at Flourish Psychology can work with you to identify your triggers and find freedom from your anxiety. Schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.

3 Unexpected Sources of Childhood Trauma + Effects in Adulthood

3 Unexpected Sources of Childhood Trauma + Effects in Adulthood

In a recent episode of the popular podcast, This American Life, I heard a story that caused me to reflect on the effects of unresolved childhood trauma and how it manifests in adulthood.

The featured guest told the story of how she was separated from her parents at a very young age, as they immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, leaving her behind with her grandmother. This difficult decision was made by her mother, who did not want her young daughter to endure the uncertainty and hardship that came with such a big transition. Though she eventually joined her family in the United States a few years later when things were more stable, the psychological effects of the separation followed her for the rest of her life.  

When she arrived in the United States, she began feeling pressured to be on her best behavior at all times, for fear that she would be sent back to Guatemala. Many years after her safe arrival, she still had the constant fear of deportation, even as a naturalized adult. Decades later, when she became a mother, she started having nightmares about her son being taken away from her. She began instilling fear into her son about their possible separation, going as far as to install tracking devices so that she could be aware of his location at all times. In this way, she was reliving her childhood trauma, as well as passing it along to her son.

How is it possible for an event from early childhood to affect an adult decades after the fact? Why doesn’t time heal the wounds of childhood trauma?

Unless childhood trauma is properly addressed, its effects will be evident even years after the traumatic incident. Sometimes, a traumatic event may be suppressed for a long time, only to resurface when something triggers it in adulthood. When this happens, it can be difficult to connect the dots between a childhood incident and a ‘grown-up’ problem.

There are many different types of experiences that happen during childhood that can be considered traumatic. There are more obvious instances of traumatic events such as experiencing a natural disaster, major accident, physical or sexual violence or being separated from loved ones. But there are also smaller, seemingly “normal” aspects of our childhood that can have a traumatic effect. Sometimes, traumatic events are the result of deliberate and abusive actions of the adults in our lives. Other times, the adult caretakers in our lives did not mean us any harm and genuinely believed they were making the best decisions for us. Unfortunately, even the best of intentions does not negate the lasting effects of childhood trauma. We all experienced traumatic events as children to some extent, based on our unique family dynamic or physical environment. It’s important to remember that events that may be considered ‘minor’ can have a lasting effect well into adulthood. Here are some unexpected sources of childhood trauma and how they may impact you as an adult.

Moving a lot as a kid

Moving is a major and transformative life event for everyone, but it has an especially significant impact on children. Many studies have researched the long-term effects of repeated moves once children have reached adulthood. The research shows that the more times people moved as children, the more likely they will be to report lower life satisfaction and psychological wellbeing as adults. Researchers also found that those who moved frequently as children had more difficulties finding and maintaining healthy and satisfying relationships in adulthood.

Moving creates a sense of displacement and a feeling of a lack of stability in a child’s life. Just when they have adjusted and adapted to their environment, they are forced to readjust, re-adapt and find a new sense of balance in their new home. With a new school comes the challenges of being “the new kid” such as being bullied, feeling left out and having difficulty making friends. When moves are quite frequent (as often happens with military families) children may feel discouraged from making friends at all, seeing it as a futile endeavor when they may soon be leaving again.

How this may affect you as an adult:

There is quite a bit of research on the long-term effects of moving around a lot as a child, with many studies concluding that it may lead to increased risk of depression, self-harm and substance abuse in adulthood. There is also the likelihood of challenges in maintaining relationships and jobs. Because you are so accustomed to being forced to leave, you may be inclined to quickly “cut off” romantic and platonic partners and may have challenges with keeping a job long term. Longevity and settling down may feel uncomfortable for you because of the lack of stability in your childhood.

Growing up in an Environment of Poverty or Scarcity

It comes as no surprise that children living in poorer households face unique and complex challenges not faced by children in more financially abundant homes. Trauma can be experienced by witnessing an actual or perceived threat to our safety or wellbeing and this is triggered in many ways while growing up in poverty. An inability to access food, clothing or shelter on a consistent basis threatens a child’s sense of safety and stability. Poverty can also bring on feelings of guilt, shame or fear as it relates to money and these feelings can follow you well into adulthood.

How this may affect you as an adult:

For many adults who were raised in an environment of poverty, the mindset of scarcity follows them for life. Even after attaining wealth or stability in adulthood, you may still operate from a place of lack. There may be the constant fear that you are going to “lose it all” and end up back in an impoverished situation. This can lead to hoarding of resources and an inability to enjoy the fruits of your labour. A lack of financial education in childhood may lead to poor financial planning or decision-making in adulthood, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Childhood Trauma from Emotionally Unavailable parents

Though a parent may be physically present and make provisions for a child’s physical needs, they may be emotionally absent or unavailable. Most often, they themselves had emotionally absent parents and simply never learned how to offer emotional support to anyone, including their own children. Other times, parents may have demanding jobs or other obligations that do not allow them to be emotionally present in the lives of their children.

Emotionally absent parents are reluctant to display intimacy and may have challenges showing physical or verbal affection to their children. Because of their own inability to handle their emotions, they are unable to guide their children in managing their emotional wellbeing. These parents will often encourage children to suppress emotions instead of addressing them in a healthy way.

How this may affect you as an adult:

Adult children of emotionally absent parents often grow up to repeat the patterns and behaviors of their parents. They may have difficulties in romantic relationships or friendships due to their inability to be vulnerable and affectionate. In turn, they may seek out partners who are emotionally unavailable, leaving them dissatisfied as they yearn for connection and intimacy. It may be difficult to cope with the emotionally demanding realities of adulthood, leading to a reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs or impulsive shopping.

Healing from Childhood Trauma Through Therapy

To some extent, we are all dealing with the aftermath of childhood trauma in one way or another. Though none of it is your fault, the responsibility of healing from your trauma rests only with you. By working with a therapist, you will have expert guidance and support as you process difficult moments from your past. Though this can be a daunting prospect, it is one of the most fulfilling things you can do for yourself. To take the first step, schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who meets your needs.

5 Important Self Care Tips For Social Media Users

5 Important Self Care Tips For Social Media Users

Though social media is a relatively new advancement in technology, it has very quickly become an unavoidable aspect of our everyday lives. For most teens and millennials, constant access to social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter is facilitated through use of a smartphone that is always connected to the internet. For older populations, Facebook and YouTube are far more popular. For younger generations, exposure to screens starts in early infancy, with many parents using tablets and smartphones to keep young children entertained with games, videos and educational content. Regardless of your age group or lifestyle, chances are that you have some form of a relationship with social media, due to its accessibility, ease of use and various benefits. 

Of course, there are many positive aspects to social media use. These revolutionary platforms allow us to have easy access to important information, which can be crucial during an ever-changing world. The latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, elections and other crucial world events are available at the tap of a screen. With travel restrictions and lockdowns, social media allows us to keep in contact with loved ones we otherwise would not be able to reach. 

Limited research on effects of social media use

Given the relative recency of these technologies, there is limited research on its effects on our mental health and wellbeing. The most accurate research studies take place over many years and measure long-term impact. With social media, there simply hasn’t enough time for such a comprehensive study. While we may not yet have information on the long-term effects of constant social media use, we do have quite a bit of research on the shorter-term impacts. This is crucial information that we can use to surmise what the impact will be if we continue using social media in a particular way over a longer period of time. 

Many studies focus on the psychological impact of increased exposure to these platforms and how this exposure contributes to depression, anxiety, self-harm and disordered eating

FOMO and the comparison game

By nature, humans are wired to compare themselves to each other. Long before these technologies existed, we have been “keeping up with the Joneses” by comparing our careers, possessions, children and bank accounts to our peers, neighbors and colleagues. For decades, research has indicated that we make upward comparisons, i.e. we measure the mundane or unpleasant aspects of our lives to the grandiose and glamorous aspects of other people’s lives.

Social media ups the ante of the comparison game by giving us constant access to the highlight reels of others. A few decades ago, we may be notified of a colleague’s new car if we happened to notice it in their parking spot at work or a chance encounter at the grocery store. Now, you can see how #grateful your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is for her new car before she even drives it off the lot. Seeing this while you’re dealing with a tough financial time can easily bring on feelings of inadequacy and comparison. 

These feelings of comparison can lead to FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Have you ever watched an Instagram story of a group of friends at a restaurant or party while you’re at home in your PJs? It’s easy to feel like life is passing you by while scrolling through the seemingly exciting lives of others.

In some ways, comparison can be a healthy and useful tool for self-development. By seeking inspiration from the achievements of others, we can find motivation to make improvements to our own lives. By using your peers as a benchmark, you can also find reassurance in the fact that you are on the right track or may even be doing better than you expected. But the comparison game can quickly take a very dark turn, leaving you feeling inferior, anxious or depressed. 

Social Media & The 24-hour news cycle 

The 24-hour news cycle came about in the mid-1990s when television networks began doing fast-paced investigative journalism in an effort to compete with each other. There is a constant race for the juiciest scoop, the exclusive interview and to be the first to break the latest news. This was a revolutionary concept in comparison to printed newspapers, which were only able to provide delayed information once per day. In the age of social media, the news cycle is even more constant because it’s in your pocket. 

Back in the nineties, it was easy to turn off your TV to head to work or otherwise go about your day. Today, it’s more of a challenge to avoid the news than it is to stay informed. Information overload can lead to stress, anxiety and a whole host of mental health issues. 

Steps you can take to minimize effects

If you’ve noticed that your social media use leaves you feeling depressed or that every notification brings a feeling of dread or anxiety, it may be time to make some changes. 

  1. Remind yourself that you don’t need to be constantly connected to stay informed. Do you really need to hear every breaking news update? Checking a summary of your favorite news sites once or twice per day is enough to keep you informed of important local and world events. There are many services that offer personalized, condensed news reports based on your interests and location. Consider turning off the CNN notifications in favour of one of these options. 
  2. It’s also important to remember that people are only putting the very best version of themselves on social media. It’s unfair to compare yourself in a low moment to a retouched, made-up, and hyper-positive social media post. Remember that we all face setbacks and challenges, but these are rarely shared on Instagram. 
  3. Social media can easily cause us to feel like the star of our very own reality show. This can create a feeling of obligation in relation to updating your followers about your daily life and major life developments. Remind yourself that there is no such obligation. Release the pressure that comes with taking the perfect shot, writing the wittiest caption and getting the most likes or comments. It’s okay to take a break from posting. If you’re feeling up for it, why not take a social media detox? Disconnecting from the constant rat race can bring you unexpected peace and clarity. If your livelihood depends on social media, consider scheduling posts ahead of time to keep your feed updated.
  4. Another simple, yet important step to take is to unfollow or unsubscribe from accounts that negatively affect your wellbeing. Does a certain news site use anxiety-inducing headlines as clickbait? Unfollow! How about an email marketing newsletter that always leads to you making a purchase you’ll later regret? Unsubscribe! And the girl with the seemingly perfect life with the self-righteous captions that cause you to feel inferior? It’s okay to mute her, too. 
  5. If you’re having issues detaching from social media and are concerned about its impact on your mental health, you may wish to discuss these concerns with a therapist. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology understand that social media is interwoven into our lives and are trained to address the mental health issues that may arise from constant use of these platforms. Schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.
5 Proven Techniques For Calming Your Anxiety Right Now

5 Proven Techniques For Calming Your Anxiety Right Now

Do you struggle with anxious thoughts? You’re certainly not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental disorder and will affect most people at some point. It’s the body’s natural reaction to stress and can be useful for keeping us alert during dangerous situations. Sometimes, anxious thoughts can occur in situations that aren’t necessarily dangerous, but are of great importance such as a job interview or first date.

Other times, anxious thoughts seem to creep in for no apparent reason. You may not even be able to identify the cause of the anxiety and this can make you even more anxious. When these thoughts begin to hinder your ability to function in your daily life, you may want to consider working with a therapist. There are many practices and habits that can reduce anxiety in the long term. Ensuring that you are eating healthily, staying hydrated and getting proper sleep are foundational when coping with an anxiety disorder.

But what about tackling anxiety in the moment? What can you do when you have a presentation at work in an hour, but you can’t stop ruminating on your credit card bill? Or when you feel overwhelmed at the grocery store, but need to finish your shopping? These are the little moments in life where coping skills are essential. While you can’t control or predict when anxiety will arise, be prepared by learning these five simple strategies that can be used at any time.

Mindfulness for anxiety

Mindfulness is a simple, yet effective method of calming down your anxious thoughts in the moment. When anxious thoughts arise, we are usually ruminating on the past or speculating about the future. Mindfulness keeps you in the present moment and helps to counteract anxiety. You can practice mindfulness at any time by simply focusing on your breathing. Take deep, deliberate breaths and make a note of all the sensations in your body. Can you feel the air tickling your nose? Can you see the rise and fall of your chest? When you feel your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath and the present moment.

Mindfulness is a popular technique used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) that you can practice at any time. By taking the time to pause and remain present, you can appreciate all the little things about the current moment that you otherwise may not have noticed. This can have a surprisingly soothing effect on the mind and body.

Radical acceptance

Radical acceptance is another DBT technique that can be used to calm anxious thoughts. It is the ability to accept situations that are outside of your control without judgment. It is based on the premise that anxiety stems from our thoughts about a situation, and not the situation itself. Radical acceptance encourages you to accept and be at peace with reality, which can help to minimize your anxious thoughts. By embracing your reality instead of fighting it, you are less likely to experience resentment, shame or guilt about your past. This can be very effective in reducing ruminating thoughts.

Whenever you find yourself fighting reality (for example “my life shouldn’t be this way”), use the opportunity to practice this technique. You can easily incorporate radical acceptance into your life by repeating coping statements to yourself. Examples of radical acceptance coping statements include:

  • The present is the only moment I have control of
  • This moment is the result of a million other decisions
  • I cannot change the past, I can only live in the present
  • I don’t like what’s happening but I can cope with my reality
  • Everything that happened in the past has led up to now
  • The past is in the past, but now I can move forward

Self-soothe with Senses

This is a simple and popular exercise that can be used to calm anxious thoughts. The best part is that it can be done at any time and in any location. You’ll be using your senses to take note of your surroundings. This is an example of a mindfulness technique because it helps to keep you in the present moment. It also has the additional benefit of distracting your mind from your anxious thoughts.

  • Acknowledge 5 things you can see around you. Perhaps the polish on your toenails or someone walking by outside your window.
  • Acknowledge 4 things you can touch around you. This can be your hair on your neck, the ground under your feet or your clothes on your skin.
  • Acknowledge 3 things you can hear. Maybe a dog is barking in the distance or maybe you’ll notice a sound your own body is making.
  • Acknowledge 2 things you can smell. Take a deep breath and make a note of the things you can smell. Do your hands smell like soap or sanitizer? Can you sniff your collar?
  • Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste. Maybe you’re chewing bubble gum or maybe you can still taste some of your last meal.

Walking for Anxiety

Movement is an excellent way to calm anxiety. If you’re able, go for a short (5 or 10 minute) walk before returning to your present situation. Research indicates that walking is powerful enough to “turn off” the part of the brain that is responsible for your anxiety. The physical activity of walking can have a clearing and calming effect on the mind, enabling you to see your situation with fresh eyes. Incorporate mindfulness into your walk by taking a note of the things around you. Make a game of it by counting all the red items you see on your walk. While walking outside has the added benefit of fresh air, an indoor walk is incredibly effective at calming an anxious mind.

By learning these strategies, you’ll be better equipped to handle anxious thoughts when they arise. The best part is that the more you practice, the better you will become at these skills. While they are incredibly useful in the moment, it’s also important to consider long-term strategies for managing chronic anxiety. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can work with you to identify your triggers and find freedom from your anxiety. Schedule a free consult to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.

Infertility, family planning and mental health

Infertility, family planning and mental health

Family Planning, Infertility and Mental Health 

Planning for a baby can be an exciting, yet daunting time. While planning for one of the biggest changes of your life, you may be thinking about your finances, relationships, career and health. It’s common to face increased anxiety during this experience, especially if you’re having challenges with conception. Several studies show that people dealing with infertility have higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to their fertile counterparts. Though it’s important to take care of your physical health as you prepare for pregnancy, be sure to prioritize your mental health as well. 

Diversion from Your Life Plan

Infertility often represents a major diversion from the plans and goals you have made for yourself and your life. Maybe you planned to be a parent by a certain age, or maybe you feel like a baby is what you need to make your life complete. An unexpected challenge to your plans can be disorienting and distressing. Working with a therapist during this time can equip you with the skills needed to cope. 

Infertility and Mental Health

Trying to conceive and struggling with infertility can be an isolating and emotionally painful experience. A lot of focus is placed on ensuring your body is physically ready for pregnancy. It’s important not to neglect your mental health while dealing with infertility and trying to conceive. As you navigate this challenging time, you are more prone to depression and anxiety than at other times in your life. Infertility is also linked to lowered self-esteem and confidence. Pay attention to your levels of stress and anxiety and take breaks when things get overwhelming. 

Planning a Pregnancy with an Existing Mental Health Condition

If you have or have ever had a mental illness, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before planning to have a baby. Most people with mental health conditions have healthy pregnancies and babies, but it’s still helpful to speak to your doctor. Some medications used to treat mental illnesses can also impact your ability to conceive or should not be taken while pregnant. Do not stop taking any medications without first speaking with your doctor. Talking to your doctor can also give you insight on how pregnancy may affect your mental health, so you can feel prepared and informed. 

Impact on Your Relationships 

Deciding to have a baby can be a mutually fulfilling experience that creates a stronger bond between you and your partner. In other cases, trying to conceive can be stressful and may have a negative impact on your relationship with your partner. If both people aren’t on the same page, this can cause tension and uncertainty about the future of the relationship. For some couples, sex can become boring or routine while trying to conceive, causing issues with intimacy. If planning your family is causing stress in your relationship, it may be worth looking into couple’s counseling. 

Deciding to become a parent can impact other relationships, too. Friendships may be affected since you may be less able to dedicate time and energy to those interactions. If your friends are not becoming parents, you may find yourself drifting apart as your interests and lifestyles change. 

Professional Support at Every Step of the Way

At Flourish Psychology, our clinicians can help you process concerns about pregnancy and building a family. We can also support you through the process of fertility treatments or healing after a miscarriage. If you are considering surrogacy and need emotional support in making this life-changing decision, our clinicians offer a safe and welcoming therapeutic environment. 

Contact us for a free consult to get started.