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Coping Through the Holidays

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Following Halloween, the holiday season suddenly looms. Excited children, crowded stores, decorations, and holiday parties are all set to descend on us. Yet because the winter holidays tend to celebrate families and children, these usually joyous occasions can bring up painful feelings when you are struggling to create and celebrate with a family of your own. In order to feel as good as possible during the holidays, you will need to develop some good holiday coping skills. Coping is "developing the ability to manage in a difficult situation."

Here are a few suggestions from my colleague at Pacific Fertility Center, Peggy Orlin, MFT. Use whichever of these suggestions seems helpful to you. Do what feels right for you.

DO: Give up any and all feelings of guilt for how you are feeling. There is no right or wrong way to experience infertility. Your feelings may run the gamut from indifference to intense anger and despair and everywhere in between.

DO: Reach out to childfree friends. Their parties will be adult-focused.

DO: Choose the gatherings you attend carefully. If you are upset by being around children or babies gracefully decline invitations to events where they are likely to be present. Know your limits and stick with them.

DO: Think of non-child centered holiday rituals. Take a vacation. Eat at a fancy restaurant.

DO: Continue to get moderate amounts of exercise. Eat healthy and get plenty of rest. You will feel better if you treat your body with care.

DO: Shop for the holidays online or from catalogs. You will avoid mall madness.

DO: Attend religious services at the time when there will be the least number of children. Or attend on a university campus, as those services tend to be more adult focused.

DO: Volunteer at a nursing home or homeless shelter. It may help to help others having a difficult time at the holidays.

DO: Plan for how you will answer uninvited questions about when you're going to have children. Remember, you are not required to tell them your entire "story!"

DO: Meet and talk with others who are experiencing similar feelings. Finding that you are not alone helps.

DO: Communicate with your partner to let him/her know of your feelings. If you are single, call a friend with whom you feel safe to share your feelings.
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About the Author

Dr. Herbert is a fertility expert and an innovator in the field.

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