Holiday lanternCoping with the expectation of perfection during the winter holidays can be a real challenge for many people. It can be especially challenging for people already coping with the heartbreak of infertility. Two clinical psychologists who specialize in helping people with fertility issues offer these six tips for coping with the holiday merriment that seems impossible to escape.

Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski and Dr. Marie Davidson, both clinical psychologists at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, know the holidays can be isolating, sad, and discouraging for couples experiencing infertility. In so many ways, children are the focus of many holiday festivities but these techniques for coping with the infertility holiday blues can help make the season more pleasant.

  1. Acknowledge the Sadness
    Acknowledge the anger and frustration, too. Holding emotions inside is mentally draining and can lead to the feeling of alienation. Express these very valid emotions instead of struggling with them alone.
  2. Talk to Someone
    Men and women feel and express emotions differently so be sure to support your partner through this mutually difficult time. Confide in each other or in a trusted friend, family member, or professional who understands infertility.
  3. Be Choosy
    Make a plan to attend only the holiday events that truly interest you. It’s OK to turn down invitations, especially if there’s a chance painful thoughts and feelings will surface at a specific event or party.
  4. Have an Answer Ready
    The holidays tend to bring people into our lives we don’t see much during the rest of the year. Baby questions are likely to arise and so are baby announcements. Anticipate baby-related conversations and have an answer ready when the inevitable occurs.
  5. Create Your Own Festivities
    Make plans to do something outside the norm to celebrate the holidays. Try a romantic getaway for two, an adults-only holiday party, or anything that you enjoy doing together as a couple.
  6. Don’t Give Up
    The holidays won’t last forever and, in many cases, infertility doesn’t, either. Keep in mind this challenge may last no longer than this holiday season and you may feel entirely different by the time the holidays roll around again.

It’s also important to know that others may not understand why you choose to limit your exposure to holiday festivities. Your reasons are personal and private. Keep them that way. Share your reasons, your thoughts and feelings with those you feel close to but refrain from public announcements or group explanations.

Many winter holidays are based on religious tradition. Quiet contemplation of the meaning of the season is perfectly acceptable and appropriate from religious and personal perspectives. The end of the year is also the time many people spend reflecting on their current affairs, reviewing the past, and planning the future. Allow time for quiet contemplation and intimate conversation with the people in your life who matter the most.

Source: “Advice from Two Pros: How to Navigate the Holidays With An Infertility Diagnosis.” Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Dec. 19, 2013. Web. Dec 20, 2013.