Guide to Surviving the Holiday Season

Two patients told me that they were getting divorced this week. They came to the office and thanked me for all that I have done for them. They wished that the assisted reproductive technology had worked and given them children, but it didn’t. The relationships simply couldn’t tolerate the strain and gave way. Unfortunately this is not uncommon.

The Stress of Infertility

Don’t doubt for a minute that being infertile doesn’t have the same impact as having cancer. Very little can tear holes in the fabric of a relationship like infertility can. Add to this the romance of the holiday season and you have a recipe for potential disaster. Gathered families encircled by the howling laughter of children; smartly dressed kids at parties just learning to be polite; parents reveling in the enchantment written on the faces of children hearing holiday stories. To the infertile, its like having walking pneumonia—it just never seems to get better or go away.

Eight Ways to Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe the holiday season is just more stressful. What can you do about it? Here are some tips for men as the holidays approach:

  1. Take smaller steps. Stress and depression are like the flu: give them some time to run their course and pass through. You will make it, and you will be stronger because of it.
  2. Make a plan. Spinning out of control without a plan for the problem can cause great anxiety. Simply agreeing to take the next month off and start again in the New Year can make all the difference in the world.
  3. Enjoy each other. After all, you have found a soul mate that is going through the same experience. Give and get that big hug that can make all the difference in the world
  4. Express yourself. Cry on her shoulder and not in a closet. Vent about that wicked day by journaling. A belly laugh or a primal scream is even better. Empathy is a very rich and particularly human experience with immense healing power.
  5. Relieve your stress. Exercise, yoga, massage and acupuncture are fabulous ways for men to “vent” and relax. There is something about those endorphins that waft through the body after a long run…
  6. Be mindful. Take your eyes off the Ipad and lose circular thoughts that lead to nowhere. Take note of the present. Quietly observe life. Breathe to relax. You are an organism, not a machine.
  7. Try fasting. From emails, texts, news, stock quotes. Do you really think that you can keep up with the web growing at a rate of 7.3 million pages per day?
  8. Busy your hands. There is enormous therapy to be found by working with your hands. In the words of Michael Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: “Fixing things feels good.”