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Thirty Second Fertility Vacation – Break the Obsessive Thinking Cycle Blog Feature
Lisa Rosenthal

By: Lisa Rosenthal on February 3rd, 2016

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Thirty Second Fertility Vacation – Break the Obsessive Thinking Cycle

Support | Breath | Fertility Treatment

Fertility Vacation - Break Obsessive ThinkingWe can make the choice in turning away from “obsessive” thinking.

Much easier said than done?


The Cycle of Obsessive Thinking

When you’re caught in that cycle of obsessive thinking, whether it’s infertility or not, where one thought leads to the next and then the next one after that, it’s very hard to turn off. And it does tend towards the negative. It also tends towards inaction and micromanagement.

I will give you an example. See if it sounds or feels familiar. This is a personal familiar litany in my brain.

I have nine things to do today. All of them must be done. Here goes my brain.

Let me start with the lowest hanging fruit– that way I get a good start. I’m going to write the paragraphs needed for the disclaimer. Great, done, off my plate. Send it off, get it back, revise and resend. More suggestions. More edits. More revisions. Wow. The easiest thing I needed to do today is taking three times as long as it should have. How long is everything else going to take to do? There’s no way that I’ll be able to finish the nine things on my list. I’ll be lucky if I can get three things taken care of. But which three things should I do then? They’re all important. I need to get them all done. I don’t know which to tackle next. The first, easy thing isn’t even finished yet, so it’s not off my list. There’s no way to get all of this finished. Who am I willing to disappoint? Who and what is most important to take care of? If I don’t finish the nine things I planned for today, I’ll have ten things that I need to finish tomorrow and maybe fourteen things for the next day. My week is already shot. There’s no way to catch up or finish. Even if I work every moment of the day, I can’t get it all done. I have no idea how to do this.

Welcome to my brain. Does any of it sound familiar?

Thoughts About Infertility & Fertility Treatment

If it’s about infertility or fertility treatment, might it look like this instead?

If I get my period today or tomorrow, I’ll be able to start my cycle by Monday. But I never get my period on time so I won’t be able to tell my co-workers when I’ll be in late or when I’ll be out because of a procedure. Even if my cycle starts on time, the meds usually take longer than I plan for and then I need to rearrange coverage at work at the last minute. How am I supposed to handle planning my time when I have no idea how this is going to go? Maybe I should tell my boss about the fertility treatment so they’ll understand and be more sympathetic. I don’t really want my boss to know though, this is private and I don’t want them to know about my trying to become pregnant because if it’s successful than they will know so early and maybe it will impact my job and career. If I don’t tell them, I’ll seem irresponsible and that could affect my job. I wonder when I’ll get my period. If it comes the day after tomorrow, then I’ll have the following weekend to rearrange plans and what do I tell my friends? Usually I tell them everything but I don’t want to share this with them. They haven’t been sympathetic in the past and I doubt they will be any better now.

And so on. And so on.

And so on.

Is this a version of the obsessive thinking that goes on for you?

Round and round it goes.

Pressing Pause on the Infertility Roller Coaster

Infertility is often likened to a roller coaster, with precipitous ups from good news and devastating drops with bad. It’s an accurate and appropriate depiction far too often.

I forget the name of the rides that go around and around and make you dizzy. It seems that infertility buys you a ticket to that one too though. Obsessive thinking is getting onto that ride and having a lot of trouble getting off, especially since the longer that you are on, the dizzier you get and the harder it is to think clearly.

I’m taking a class at Yogaspace on mindfulness. It’s already off to a great start and our teacher is reminding me of what I have learned in different ways over the years through yoga teacher training and from classes that I have participated in.

We can press a pause button. In a way, we can freeze time. Imagine that with the roller coaster, press pause and everything stops. Your hair whipping around defies gravity. There’s no upward or downward motion, everything becomes hyper calm. You take a breath. And then another one.

We can do the same thing with obsessive thinking. I like to get up and walk around the room. It takes thirty seconds and breaks the cycle. It takes less time than indulging in the obsessive thinking and gets me back to work.

Take a 30 Second Fertility Vacation

Here is one idea to interrupt the cycle of the type of thinking that can make you feel like you are a gerbil running on a wheel:

Take a thirty second vacation.

  1. A walk maybe, once around the room– stimulating your metabolism and moving into your body and out of your head.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat for thirty seconds.
  3. Making a choice to think about something else and doing just that. Pick a lovely memory to focus on or something that you will be doing later in the day that you are looking forward to.
  4. Be present in the moment. Focus on your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What’s the temperature of the air?
  5. A stretch, arms up over head. Pull gently on one wrist and then the other, lengthening  your spine.
  6. Write yourself or someone else a love note. Be generous in your note about what you admire about the person you are writing to. Sign it and use the word love.
  7. Send a prayer, blessing, kind thought to someone who you know needs it. If it’s you, then send it to yourself.
  8. Remind yourself of something you have already accomplished today that you can thank yourself for. Acknowledge the accomplishment.

Going along with the #OneSmallChange campaign from January, take a mini vacation. Thirty seconds to refresh. Do it once an hour.

Tell me how it’s going for you. I’m starting today and I always welcome company.

About Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.