The holiday season should be filled with joy. But for many, the increased year-end demands and pressure to attend every social holiday function can be a time of stress and anxiety. This is especially true for those who struggle with infertility and have experienced some form of loss – loss of a loved one or a potential loved one.

For those individuals, the holidays are the toughest. As you watch others celebrate, you find yourself suffering silently behind fake smiles and laughter. Socializing is the last thing on your list. However, take solace and know that you are not alone.

You belong to the silent sisterhood. A sisterhood who grieve the loss of a wanted child. And who mourns stillbirths, miscarriages, and constant negative pregnancy tests.

Regardless of your pathway to pregnancy, I want to acknowledge your journey and celebrate you as you are. The holidays will be tough, but don’t let your loved ones’ questions and comments unintentionally knock you down to your knees. Here are my top 7 survival tips to get you through the holiday season.

Don’t Feel Obligated To Attend Every Event

It’s okay to say no. You don’t need to feel obliged to attend every single social gathering or event. Decline gatherings that will trigger stress, anxiety, guilt, and unhappiness. Rather focus on self-preservation and self-love. For example, you don’t need to attend your friend’s holiday party where conversations are child focused. Instead, offer an adult only private get together with your friends. While this may mean catching up on a later date outside the holiday season, it also means you’ll be able to enjoy their company and feel happier.

Take A Breather At Gathering

It’s inevitable that you will be the bearer of well intentioned but unwanted questions or remarks that may be hurtful. In those situations, give yourself permission to walk away and take a breather. When I was going through my own fertility challenges, I was bombarded with questions and remarks that left me feeling beaten up and exhausted.

In order to preserve my energy without feeling the need to explain myself, I began taking breathers. When the subject approached, I politely nodded, smiled, and would excused myself from the conversation. One of the most successful tricks I learnt to avoid unwanted conversations was to make myself busy. Either by serving food, drinks, or cleaning up. It was a win win solution. Helping was much appreciated by the host and it helped me safely distance myself from small talk.

Utilize Supportive Loved Ones

It’s important to share your story or circumstance with an empathetic friend, coworker, or family member. As you take your breathers and walk away, they can help deflect and deal with unwanted questions and remarks. Creating that support system will help reduce anxiety and make holiday gatherings more enjoyable.

Be Authentic

It’s okay to not be okay. You don’t have to pretend that everything is all peachy when you are aching inside.  If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with letting out your emotions, as I was at parties, allow yourself to seek a safe space. This can either be the  bathroom, kitchen, or even outside.  Taking some time or fresh air and even talking it out with your support network after the party will help you process your emotions better.

Don’t Bottle Your Emotions

Your feelings and emotions are real. Don’t allow them to be bottled up. Rather, keep a journal and write them down. This will help you process your feelings and keep you calm.

Connect With Your Partner

Hang up the mistletoe and connect with your partner. It’s important to have a nice quiet date night to keep the love alive. It also gives you a chance to take a much needed break from the pressures of work and social gatherings.

Practice Gratitude Daily

Create a daily routine and practice gratitude. Think about the things you are grateful for when you wake up, before you go to bed, or before you enjoy your meal. Allow your mind to focus on one positive aspect of your life. This can be utilized and practiced when you find yourself at a dinner party and a remark has made you feel sad or weak. Practice gratitude daily and remember all of the positive things in your life.

I hope these tips will help you handle your next gathering with ease and grace. I wish you all the peace and love on your Pathway to Pregnancy.