In our fast-paced, American lifestyle, being on-the-go and stressed out is so common. We push ourselves beyond our limits, trying to cram everything we need to get done into a limited amount of time. Sometimes, people wear stress like a badge of honor. We try to one up each other by sharing how little sleep we got, or how much work we have to finish. However, stress can be harmful if it’s not monitored, and can manifest itself in physical ways. If you’re trying to conceive, stress is one of your biggest enemies and can lead to infertility.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views stress in a different way, as the culprit for liver qi (pronounced ‘chi’) stagnation. Luckily, there are ways to ease a lot of your stress and create a more hospitable environment for conception. From exercise and staying active, to journaling and acupuncture, there are steps you can take to work through obstacles you may have getting pregnant.
Stress and Liver Qi
At the root of TCM is the flow of vital energy or qi. A healthy pregnancy is one where qi can flow smoothly for both mother and child, where both are in harmony with one another. When yang (a warming force) and yin (a cooling force) are in balance, qi is free to flow. However, imbalance in either can lead to problems with qi, prompting other pregnancy issues like infertility and miscarriages. Qi moves the blood, so when there’s liver qi stagnation, problems related to one’s menstrual cycle can manifest. Ovulation is also extremely dependant on the free flow of liver qi. If there is any stagnation, it can lead to delayed ovulation or incomplete ovulation. Stress can furthermore create a hormone imbalance which can prompt to issues with qi and fertility.
Many modern American women tend to have liver qi stagnation because of societal pressures, stress and suppressed emotions, which can create blockages in the body. If you’re going through your own struggles to conceive, know that’s it’s not your forever state—there are many natural ways to work through it and get back on the journey to conception!
How to De-stress
Being told to ‘take it easy’ or to ‘just relax’ is often easier said than done, particularly when it comes to getting pregnant. As frustrating as the process can be, destressing is one of the key steps you can take. While you may find yourself worrying, running mental software about all the negative possibilities, it’s important to stay realistic and have a plan. There’s no need to be overly optimistic but positive thinking will certainly help. Chinese medicine associates certain emotions with certain organs. During this fragile time, it’s worth avoiding harmful and excessive emotions such as fear, anger and frustration, which correspond to the liver. Unloading your fears and feelings on paper, by writing in a journal, can be helpful to getting things off of your chest. Talking to a counselor, an objective party, can also be useful if you and your partner are having a difficult time.
Getting a solid night’s sleep is vital to keeping your stress levels low. Once it becomes dark outside, dim the lights in your home to help your body stay connected to your circadian rhythms. Create a calming space free of clutter and digital distractions so you can sleep soundly through the night.
You are What You Eat
Be especially mindful of what you put on your plate during this time of conception. It’s up to you to create a healthy environment for your future child, one that is nourishing for you both. Avoid processed foods and harmful substances (like caffeine and alcohol). Instead, opt for a varied diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and lean, organic meats.
Keep on Moving
Get your body in top shape and clear your mind by staying active, making some form of exercise part of your daily routine. Whether it’s group yoga classes or longer hikes, getting your heart rate up and working on your breathwork is also good for your mental health. You’ll find those negative thoughts disappearing and instead discover an inner sense of calm.
Acupuncture and Herbs
Exploring acupuncture and Chinese herbs can serve your body in tremendous ways on the road to fertility. Acupuncture can help increase fertility by reducing stress, increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs and help balance the endocrine system (hormones).