Mindset & art therapy, 2 tools to reduce anxiety during IVF

Monica Bivas
Mindset & Holistic Fertility Coach, Author of the Book “The IVF Planner”, Monica Bivas, Mindset & Holistic Fertility Coach

Emotions and Support

From this video you will find out:
  • What factors influence IVF stress and anxiety?
  • Does psychological stress affect the outcome of in vitro fertilization?
  • What is art therapy, and how can it help you with reducing stress?

Can art and mindset help you to reduce stress while TTC?

In this webinar session, Monica Bivas, Mindset & Holistic Fertility Coach, Author of the Book “The IVF Planner”, talked about ways that can help you to defeat stress in your journey to motherhood.

IVF as a treatment is super stressful, and the financial, emotional, and physical impact, adding that to the life that we have every day with our daily job, creates a crazy roller coaster of emotions, stress, and anxiety. With stress cortisol is released, which is a hormone that immediately acts as a defence mechanism in our body to block everything, it causes inflammation, headaches, and a bunch of things that add to this anxiety.

Monica Bivas, in her presentation, talked about two tools to help you reduce anxiety: mindset and art therapy. Monica is a certified fertility coach and has attended many fertility programs that specialize in mindset, and emotional support.

I offer all of these services with all my heart because my own experience made me fall in love with what I do, I call it the worst club with the best members.

Mindset & Art therapy

Mindset and art therapy are two tools that can create incredible results in everyday life. Specifically, if we are going through IVF, it will help us to navigate the journey in a little easier way because we are focused on having a baby. When we focus on only one thing, and we become obsessed with that thing we tend to forget what is around us and even experiences that have been offering happiness to us, we immediately also block ourselves to get the goal which is having a baby in the arms.

Mindset and art therapy are empowering and supportive tools that can be used from colouring pages to knitting, oil painting, pottery, or anything that can wake up the creativity that we have in our brain. Colouring can be very helpful because when we are colouring something with no colour, we are automatically waking our subconscious creativity, and then we are not even paying attention to what kind of colours we are using. The most beautiful thing about colouring is that when you finish a piece, you’re going to see what kind of colours you use, so for example, earth colours, which kind of help us ground us. If you finish your colouring with bright and neon colours, it seems that you’re in a mode of excitement, and happiness, then some colours are more like pastel or dark, those show a balance, it means we are accepting our current situation. Dark colours are going to show that we are still a bit blue and sad. Starting something new can help you shift your mind and make you a bit happier at that moment, and we tend to forget, living in the present is something we should focus on.

One of the advantages of going through difficult situations is that somehow that difficult situation, in this case, IVF, forces us to focus on the present moment. Then, when we are focused on the present moment, we need to say: do I choose to just go dark and suffer and cry and continue with what if? Or let it out, let me cry, let me write everything on a paper and then take a deep breath and focus on something different, which is a part of the therapy and colouring.

Journaling is also an incredible tool. If you are going through IVF and you don’t have someone to talk to, you can write down your feelings, that helps you to release that cortisol, and stress goes away, and you’ll feel much better. It’s going to help you to release serotonin and dopamines and endorphins, which is going to put a smile on your face.

Another tool that can be used is meditation. There is also an author Dr Joe Dispenza, who has a YouTube channel, and he has a program of meditations, there are 21 days of the session that can help train your subconsciousness. Mindfulness meditation allows us to get out of our heads from that anxiety and worry and look within our core, and this is where you can find your real voice. Always listen to that inner voice. Meditation, mindfulness, and art therapy help us also visualize somehow the beauty of creativity and tune in with our intuition and unique essence, which give us a space to focus on creating and uplifting our physical body, mind, emotional and spiritual side.

Mindset and Art therapy keep us in the present moment, teach us to be aware that we can’t control the actual situation, and help us to ground ourselves. These two tools are a great support to lean onto when any situation is out of our control, and we, by default, start to have fears, worries, anxiety, and desperation.

- Questions and Answers

Can stress affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle?

I am a fertility coach, I am not a doctor, so I want to make that statement, but from what I have heard from doctors and gynaecologists, yes, stress can affect our regularity in our menstrual cycles. When we are so stressed, our body releases cortisol, and this hormone is acting immediately, and that cortisol goes all over our body immediately. When someone scares you or you are having a situation in which you are scared, that happens right away, you feel it, the cortisol and adrenaline are being released, and when these two hormones are released in our body sometimes we don’t even feel that. Therefore, print some colouring pages and colour, read a book, and do something relaxing. My favourite doctor is Dr Jody Spence, he has 4 wonderful books and he works on brain waves, this is the best thing that we can do so if you don’t like to colour or to do any art therapy or mindset, buy a book from some author that can provide you tools.

Is there anything else we can do creatively if we do not like colouring?

There are so many things, for example, if you are not that into colouring, I would suggest finding a place where you can take pottery, you can try knitting, go to YouTube to see how it’s done, and even buy crystal beads on Amazon, and you can start to make bracelets, I don’t know if you like to do things in your house and you like decoration, but even that can help. If you love cooking, start to cook, if you love baking, bake, it is part of that too because it’s shifting your mind, so you need to kind of pick your own brain and think what is artistic, or that can wake up my creativity.

How best to elevate heartbreak from loss of a relationship and anxiety of failed cycles with ex and donor at nearly 42 years old and about to embark upon another cycle (maybe with donor egg as well as sperm donor) and constant worry about never becoming a mum and being alone overall. What can help reduce that stress and anxiety?

I think I have an answer for you, that’s the first thing I’m going to tell you because this is a very good question, being alone is not bad actually if you want one day to have someone, you need to be alone first. The first step is, we need to learn to love ourselves. Before starting to be a single mom, I would recommend, that’s just my suggestion, to take 3 months off for yourself. Analyse your relationship with your ex, check the pros and cons that relationship brought you, check the pros and cons that the failed cycles with him brought to you and when you see that, you’re going to find a balance. I was a mom almost at 42, there was this lady I met in the event who got pregnant at 49, and she has a 12-year-old daughter, and she did it by herself too, and I don’t know a sperm donor. But before embarking on any journey, and I tell you that from my own experience too, after a journey with heartbreak, pain, and loss, you need to grieve that pain, break, and loss because if we don’t grieve what we have lost, then we’re going to hurt ourselves more. When I had my stillbirth baby girl in 2010, I jumped basically a month and a half later into another IVF, and my doctor didn’t want to do it, but I basically put them against the wall with a gun, and he eventually did it and guess what, the fact that I was not grieving or I didn’t grieve my previous failures, I got pregnant, but I miscarried at 8 weeks, and I was double devastated. My recommendation is first to take a little time for yourself. Get this book, it’s called ‘Evolve your brain’, it’s from Dr Jody Spencer, I don’t get any commission from him, I’m just giving you a tool that has worked for me, and that’s the best I can do now. If you close yourself in the dark, trust me, it’s very difficult to get out of there, so take time for yourself, grieve that loss of that relationship, grieve the loss of the cycles, nourish yourself, and do things for yourself first. If you start to do that, and you get into a place you feel healthy, a little happy, and you have grieved, then that’s the moment that you are ready to jump into the cycle of being a single mum. In the meantime, during that process, manifest I am a mom, don’t use the word no because it’s a little like playing with your brain. We need to play with our brains, don’t let your brain play with us, you need to play with your brain, you are the one that controls your situation, and the only thing you can control is your emotions. If you know how to control your emotions, it takes time, but if you know how to control your emotions, then you have a big step there.

I recently took a cortisol of blood test, and the results showed my cortisol levels were extremely high, and I should make an appointment with my doctor. Is there an average time scale of how long it can take to reduce cortisol levels?

If the levels are high, yes, make an appointment with your doctor and find out the numbers on that cortisol levels, not only that, also ask for your thyroid numbers, but not the basic ones, go deep into the test, it can help you to see the numbers and start to work on that. Besides the medical part, if you want to start to lower the numbers, you need to start to work on yourself, start practising and use the tools we suggested today, even if it is step by step. I believe that our body is capable to balance our own hormones, our doctors are there to help us when these kinds of things happen, when we are anxious, but it’s us that need to do the work. Find what you like that can wake up your creativity, walk, this is another thing that is going to help you a lot. Take a walk every morning barefoot on the grass, mother earth helps us to take all the toxins from our feet, and you will see how you’re going to feel. Even if it is, 5-10 minutes, meditate for a few minutes. If you start with those exercises, you definitely can reduce the levels of cortisol as well.

I heard that paint fume is not good to inhale from pregnant and those trying to conceive. Is art painting or painting by numbers safe?

Yes, you are right that pain fumes are not healthy, but that depends on what kind of paintings you use. Nowadays, you can find a variety of natural and vegan paintings. Oil paints have more fumes than acrylic, but in both categories, you can ask at your store what are the best paints, either vegan or natural. There are a lot of things that paints are made of like carrots, and turmeric, you can ask for specific paintings that have natural ingredients.

Do you think it is good to be on IVF Facebook groups if I still am a bit stressed and I’m in the process of IVF (just starting)? I get the impression those groups overwhelm me at times.

If you have that impression, you need to follow your inner voice and I definitely will suggest giving a bit of space and back up from that because they can be extremely triggering. I have a group myself and sometimes I have to moderate that craziness because there are even sometimes catfights between the members because they are not sensitive enough to put a picture that at least that it is a sensitive post, they just put it and I need to tell them and remind them that all members can see that and some may just be starting or something. Therefore, take time off of that Facebook group, when you feel ready again, you can go back. If you are in a bunch of them, I will suggest being involved in 1 or 2, not more. One incredible group of support that I will suggest if you are in the U.S., there are Resolve organization groups, they have in-person groups and people like you are very overwhelmed by social media, which can be super impactful in our process.

Do you recommend trying to do some therapy daily or starting with a couple of times per week?

It has to go with what you want to do, for example, if you are in a place that is too much stressful, try to do some art therapy daily, even if you start a page, you need to start a page on colouring and finishing the same day, you can start for 5 minutes and then if you don’t like that maybe find out if you want to maybe try meditation for 5 or 10 minutes, and then slowly extend it. It’s all step by step, each of us is a unique case, and each of us has unique feelings and unique responses to certain things, so you can start daily, and if you see that the results are kind of getting you into that thing, you go into that. Your own heart, your own voice, is going to tell you. If you, for example, are in non-art at all try acupressure or tapping, those are also very helpful. Acupuncture, acupressure, or tapping, and there are also a lot of videos on YouTube about that. I would recommend starting daily, if you are under a lot of stress daily, it will be the best, and then you’re going to see how you are feeling through the week.
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Monica Bivas

Monica Bivas

Monica Bivas, is a Mindset & Holistic Fertility Coach, speaker, writer of the Book The IVF Planner (www.theivfplanner.com) and founder of The IVF Journey, an online community for women and couples to find support, hope, and connection with other individuals contemplating or experiencing In Vitro Fertilization.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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