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Ask the expert: managing current COVID anxiety for every stage…

This is an unprecedented time for everyone, but it can be particularly challenging if you’re waiting for fertility treatment, if you’re pregnant or if you have small people. We know that keeping a positive mindset is best for everything (lower stress helps our immunity for example). Sometimes it is easier said than done. So, we turn to the professionals for help and one of our amazing expert advisors Psychotherapist, Author and CEO of the Recover Clinic Emmy Brunner for some words of wisdom to make getting through this just a little bit easier:

How to manage anxiety/feelings of helplessness around delayed fertility treatment:  

If this is you, you’re probably going through a whole range of emotions. You’re likely to already be emotional about needing fertility treatment in the first place. To have delays to this can understandably evoke a sense of helplessness, anxiety and feeling down for anyone. Particularly as we have such little clarity around timing. 

Emmy’s tips how to cope better with these feelings: 

‘This may sound obvious but we cannot control everything, as much as we may want to. The most important thing to do, with this new reality, is to try as best we can to have trust and faith that something greater than ourselves has a plan. Albeit it a plan that we may not be aware of. But, a plan that we need to try and have faith in. A plan that it is right for us.

For those of you who are having cycles delayed, of course you’re going to be feeling anxious about the timing aspect and the urgency. However, rather than torturing yourself about it, it is much better to work on some acceptance of the situation as it is. You’ll find much more comfort from that than going round and round in your head about something that unfortunately none of us have any control over.

Endlessly going round with negative thoughts doesn’t change the fact we are in this position. Instead shifting your focus to prioritising being kind and courteous to yourself and instead focusing on acceptance will bring you a lot more comfort.

Sounds easier said that done, how do we prioritise finding acceptance? 

The key is to focus more on what you can control rather than what you can’t. Focus your attention on looking after yourself and your body during this time. Being kind and making a conscious effort to stop yourself when you’re going down a spiral of negativity. Acknowledging that negative spirals will do you more harm than good. Actively making yourself and finding a more positive mindset a priority. 

What we think about impacts how we feel: 

It may sound obvious, but so much of what we think about has an impact on how we feel. One simple way to stop worrying is to shift your mind to something else. Sometimes unwittingly we feed anxiety and negativity, we feed it by repeating thoughts over and over. If it is a situation you cannot change (like the one right now) shifting focus on to something that makes us feel a bit more positive can be very powerful. For each person, that will be something different. It could be listening to music that makes you feel good, it could be meditation.

Or a bit of a fail safe…

The other thing which is a bit of a fail safe is just simply watchIng something funny. As soon as you start to laugh, you start to feel good. It shifts your energy and your focus. Things aren’t going to change or be any better because you have spent hours worrying about them. So, the best thing to do is to try and feel good now. With things just as they are. It is possible, it just takes a bit of commitment to spend the time and focus thinking about what makes you feel good and doing it. 

Anxiety about anxiety during pregnancy…. 

Of course we all want to be perfectly zen and healthy during pregnancy but if you are a first time parent and you’re pregnant right now, I think you can be quite shocked by how anxious this time can be. For a lot of us, it is the first time we have felt really vulnerable in our lives. We are in a situation now where we are not totally in control. It is also not something we can really rush through. It is a process we have to go through, there is a set time and we are just effectively on that train. I think the truth is, when you become a parent there is something within you that is inbuilt to worry about your unborn baby. That starts from the minute you get pregnant.  

Most of us also are conscious of the damaging nature of stress so that can understandably make it worse and make us think we are ‘failing’ when we feel this higher level of anxiety. I think trying to be kind to yourself and recognising that it is very normal to feel anxious and worried is the first step. Particularly during these uncertain times. The reality is, the more you give yourself a hard time about it the worse it will make you feel. The opposite of what you want. 

Once again, shift your focus. Find whatever makes you feel positive and happy. It sounds simple but it can be powerful. Actively thinking about what will make you feel good in the present moment instead of festering can meaningfully change your mood and energy for the better.

How to prevent stress and anxiety over the current situation passing to a young child? 

I think it’s really normal at the moment to feel stressed and anxious. We are all going through a particularly stressful time. I own a clinic where we treat women with eating disorders, anxiety and depression and we have had to close the clinic and run all of our services remotely. In the first couple of days of isolation when I was trying to navigate that I definitely felt stressed and anxious. I have two children and my eight year old in particular was very aware that I was having to deal with something difficult. I feel as though the best thing to do with this is to acknowledge it. I think children feel a lot more anxious when we pretend that everything is ok. They pick up on things, they know what’s going on. When we communicate to children what we’re doing and how we feel about it, it’s actually surprisingly reassuring to them. So for me to say to my eight year old that I was dealing with something stressful at the moment and that it was taking some of my time and focus, but I’ll carry on working it out and I’ll feel better but right now I’m feeling a bit stressed is perfectly ok.

Allowing our children to see us in a vulnerable state is actually valuable: 

Allowing our children to see us in a vulnerable place is an important lesson for them. It is a lesson in how they need to be as adults. That it is ok to be vulnerable, it is ok not to be ‘ok’ all of the time. For us to model that to them at a really young age is actually quite valuable. 

How to make sure your children don’t grow up overly fearful: 

If you’re concerned about the impact of our current climate on our kids the first thing we need to do is to be mindful of what we’re doing in our day to day lives that could contribute to that. How much are you feeding that fear and anxiety? By looking at news stories, by listening to people who are extremely anxious for example. Our world will reflect what it is we are thinking about and focusing on. So, if we’re focusing our energy on things, people and experiences that feel good to us then that is what our world will reflect and that is the world our children will experience. So, I think when my children are frightened of things it is about acknowledging their fear and trying to help them develop tools for self soothing and to cope. Whether that is music, journaling, movement and giving them some space to process things that feel difficult. Rather then rushing them out of feeling a difficult emotion. I think those tools are most helpful. That being said they’re helpful not just for kids but for all of us. 

If you want to hear more from Emmy check her out on instagram @emmybrunnerofficial. We also have a podcast with Emmy talking about all things anxiety for the entire journey. Or to read the quick ten ways to manage it click here. Chin up!


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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Each month we will be giving away a curated box of goodies to suit the individual stage of your Journey, worth £100. To enter the draw and join us, enter your details below. Winner announced at the end of the month.


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