Did you guys know that we have not one, but TWO, in-house nutritionists that can help you on your health and wellness journey? One of those lovely ladies, Sarah Jane Sandy, runs her own private practice, specializing in fertility, pregnancy, and all things women’s health related. She recently started a new blog series focusing on a wide variety of Mind/Body Therapy Techniques, and she wrote a little somethin’ somethin’ that we thought you guys might be interested in when it comes to de-stressing our minds and recovering from our everyday. Note that this is just an excerpt, and the original blog post can be found here: Mind/Body Therapy Series: Meditation.
I’ve previously mentioned the profound effects that chronic stress has on your body – but one of the worst effects for someone who is trying to get pregnant is that it can literally contribute to infertility. It’s truly a catch-22 – the longer you are unable to get pregnant, the more stressed you become, and the longer it takes to get pregnant, and …. You get the point – it turns into a frightening negative feedback loop!
Stress levels are powerful. Chronic stress quickly depletes the nutrient reserves of the body, causing normally functioning systems to “shut down” (even if temporarily) so that vital functions of the body – liver, heart, lungs and nervous system – can maintain the necessary functions to keep us alive. The reproductive system is the lowest on the survival hierarchy and therefore one of the first systems to shut off. Interestingly enough, the body doesn’t deem making a baby as necessary for survival, no matter how strongly we feel that it is the right time to have a baby.
Research has proven that stress impacts fertility health by causing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol to increase, in turn inhibiting the release of important reproductive hormones and subsequently suppressing ovulation in women, sperm production in men, and sexual activity and hormone balance in both women and men.
While diet and nutrition play a huge role in helping your mind and your body to mitigate stress and optimize fertility, specific Mind-Body Therapies can help you move past the mental blocks that may be contributing to your chronic stress.
A recent study of 501 couples in the U.S. tracked over 12 months found a 29% reduction in fertility in couples demonstrating high stress levels! Even in studies where pregnancy rates were not looked at, the participant’s emotional well-being improved significantly, so these therapies are worth looking into, no matter your stage of life.
Sounds like a win in my book!
But now, onto today’s mind/body technique for discussion: meditation.
Meditation involves gently encouraging the mind to move away from our typically rushed and worried state, and instead move into a calmer, more relaxed, focused state of being.
Some people mistakenly believe that meditation is about “clearing the mind” of all thoughts, or that meditation has to be a religious practice, but those are only specific techniques of meditative practice.
Meditation can also be about letting your thoughts flow without trying to stop or focus on one specific idea. Or, meditation can be about focusing on your breathing or repeating quietly a specific mantra (a meaningful word, phrase, or intention).
There are plenty of different types of meditative practice, all with varying focus areas. Our goal should be to try out a few to learn what works for us as individuals. Or to see if meditation works for us at all!
But, in general, the way I like to look at meditation can be shared with a little story:
Every time you fly in an airplane, once you get above the clouds, there is blue sky. Our goal is to get our minds to that “blue sky” space where we’re able to look down at our problems as the clouds below us. Sometimes there are a lot, sometimes there are very few, but they are slowly passing below us without dramatically impacting our state of mind.
Having our mind in this mental space is an incredible rewarding place to be.
If you’re interested in trying out meditation, there are several popular styles that might work for you. I’ve also included a few resources for you to check out so that you can get started right away!
Styles of Meditation and Resources to Get You Started
While there are several different styles and techniques of meditation, and many different names to each approach, they can all be generally be divided into two groups. (Note that they frequently overlap, as well.)
For more information on styles of meditation and free resources to get you started, check out the rest of the post here: Mind/Body Therapy Series: Meditation.
A great way to try out meditation yourself… Check out one of our REBEL Yoga classes! Included in these slower paced REBEL classes is an element of moving meditation that will help you to slow down and connect to each muscle group throughout your time in the studio.