We know there’s heartache that comes with infertility around the holiday season. Especially when pregnancy announcements are all over social media, or relatives ask “When will you start having kids?”, or when your mantel isn’t full of all the little stockings you’ve once envisioned.

Thriving doesn’t have to mean that you are full of happiness and joy at all times, and it doesn’t mean the heartache or hurt is any less valid or real. It can mean taking small steps toward better mental, emotional, relational and physical health during trials or pain.

To make the holidays less daunting, we want to encourage you with 3 small (but impactful) ways that will help as you navigate infertility struggles while also trying to be present and focused with friends and family.

1. Protect Your Self Care Time

This one is so important! If your energy tank isn’t being filled up and rejuvenated somehow, there is no way you can be fully present and focused when others are around for holiday events (or when you’re the hostess!) What heals and energizes you? Is it a bubble bath and a good book at the end of the night? Is it baking? Yoga? Calling up your bestie? Fulfilling a Christmas bucket list item? Whatever it is, schedule it and stick to it. This may mean saying no to a few events. And that’s okay. I’ve learned that if I write it down in my planner and take my “self care” time seriously, then I’ll actually do it. It won’t just happen magically on it’s own though because we all know there are so many last minute holiday things that come up! Be prepared for when they do, and prioritize and protect your own needs.

To be the best version of you while walking through infertility may mean your schedule needs to be less full and your self care time more frequent.

2. Quieting the Lies or Your Inner Critic

If there are certain triggers that cause you to go down a spiral of thoughts that are not good for you, how can you replace those with a truth? For example, if a relative makes a comment or asks a prying question to you that stings, remind yourself right away of the truth; that your worth and value are not linked to being able to conceive. And remind yourself this person probably has the best intentions or might just be misinformed. You are valuable, whole, cherished, loved, and full of worth regardless of anything. Your identity is not determined by two pink lines on a pregnancy test. If it’s helpful, practice responses to yourself that will help you in situations when someone says something that triggers certain emotions for you. That way you can feel more prepared and less caught off guard for well-meaning comments or questions. Talk with your partner when these feelings or situations come up and let other trusted people in to help process through your emotions.

3. Finding Fun Ways to Focus on the Reason for the Season

I love this quote from Bob Hope: “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”  Find new ways to bless your family, neighbors, or friends during the holidays. By being intentional with who/what’s in front of us, we can take the focus off our own circumstances for a little bit and try to find joy and gratitude in the small things. If there are any local food banks, homeless shelters, or events held by a church, join in on something that will leave an impact on your loved ones and surrounding community!