IVF #4 - Over & Out

We managed to get 10 eggs at retrieval yesterday, so that was a nice surprise. We were hoping for 6-8, so there must have been some last minute growth over the past few days.

The process was as excruciating as ever - sedation still not great, lots of bleeding, and a pretty intense and painful recovery in the ward. Thankfully the nursing staff kept on trying until they found the right sort of pain management (tramadol + liquid endone + anti-nausea meds) to help - which left me feeling better, but completely tired and ready to pass out. I was so glad to get home and go to bed.
Hubby's part of the bargain went positively yesterday and we were told he had a good sample, so they performed regular IVF and not ICSI. We got a text this morning from the clinic with our day 1 fertilisation results.

So here we are - we've reached the end of another stim cycle that wasn't meant to be. I'm happy to have had good fertilisation, but it's hard to get too excited - we've been here before, and it didn't bring us much luck. That said, it's better than none. 
I'm uncomfortable now, but have pain meds to try to manage things - quite distended abdomen, hurts to pee, the usual post-retrieval stuff. Nothing to do right now but get few the next few days of discomfort & then focus on the months ahead. :) 

IVF #4 - a total crapshoot

It's official, this cycle has been another bust.

Last Thursday: E2 was 1015 and P4 was 4.1. (Why did they not tell me?)
Yesterday: E2 was 7900 and P4 was 6.3.

If you can remember back to our last failed fresh cycle and freeze all, the cut off for having a transfer is a progesterone level of less than 5. We're even higher this cycle than last time, despite being assured by our FS that we would likely be 'just fine' this time around. Apparently not.

After finding out that we have to freeze all the embryos retrieved, we went about ensuring that this time around they would grow them all out to day 5, instead of freezing at day 1 like happened last time. We had brought this worry up with our specialist at our appointment a few weeks ago, and were under the impression that yes, it was something we could bring up with the scientists, should the need arise. Imagine our surprise yesterday when we were bluntly informed that no, we would only be allowed to freeze at day 1, as this is clinic policy. No way around it, no changing her, or the clinic's mind. She has completely gone back on her word. Disappointed and frustrated is an understatement. I am LIVID.

We are so upset about this cycle that we talked about cancelling completely before retrieval - just taking the trigger, getting the majority of our money back, and just letting these eggs go. It would save us the heartache of potentially months of agony fighting our current clinic to get to a frozen transfer, and to grow out these embryos - what we were trying to avoid.

We ended up speaking to our new clinic (who we will be switching to for future cycles) and they've encouraged us not to waste these eggs. They've offered us the option of having whatever we retrieve/fertilise/end up having frozen, transferred over to their clinic, so we never have to make use of our current clinic again.

So, we're going with that option. Trigger tonight, retrieve our eggs, and wait to see what happens with fertilisation and freezing. We'll then sign the forms to give permission to send our embryos to our new clinic, take our mandatory rest cycle off, and go from there.

What a shambles, eh?

For now, I'm focusing on one day at a time... devastated to be denied a fresh transfer once again, but at least looking forward to getting these eggs out of me, because I am uncomfortable and ready to be done with IVF #4. I can't believe how these things just keep going from bad to worse, but there has to be a reason for all this, surely.

Using Natural Light to Beat the Winter Blues: Sponsored Post

Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons - but the change of temperature and the darker mornings/evenings can definitely wreak havoc on the system. When Georgia wakes early and it's pitch black and freezing cold, it can be a really difficult start to the day - but sometimes it can be a little more than that.

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Getting out of bed on a winter’s morning is tough – no one would argue with that. The distance from the warm blankets to the hot shower is just too far. For some people, though, chilly dawns can be more than an inconvenience; they can lead to serious depression.

The Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘the winter blues’ or ‘winter depression’, describes the annual onset or worsening of mood disorders in winter. People who suffer from this don’t simply have difficulty getting up in the morning; they may also develop symptoms including an inability to focus, a lack of energy, persistent pessimistic thoughts and moodiness. While this sounds like a rare and mysterious disorder, it’s more common than you might think. Though often only associated with countries that have very little light in winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder is an issue in more temperate climates too. Many sufferers don’t realise they actually have an illness.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Scientists believe Seasonal Affective Disorder is related to hormone changes that occur at certain times of the year. The dominant theory suggests a lack of light in winter inhibits the body’s ability to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for balancing moods. Serotonin deficits mean the nerve cell pathways that balance moods don’t function as well, which can affect sleep, mood, behavior, memory, appetite, and libido. Put simply, scientists believe a lack of light can lead to or worsen depression. It’s not surprising, then, that the most common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder and winter blues is light.
Autumn sunrises are my favourite - chilly but beautiful.

Treating SAD

‘Light therapy’ involves making a conscious effort to surround oneself with natural sunlight for therapeutic purposes. The simplest method of light therapy involves allowing more light into one’s home and office. In Nordic and Scandinavian countries, where there is little natural light in winter, artificial sources are used. But the rest of the world can simply open their house to light through windows and sliding doors.

Placing large sliding doors on the due-eastern side of your house means you can enjoy the benefits of morning sunlight, which helps you start the day on the right note. For those suffering from Season Affective Disorder or the winter blues, or anyone who simply feels the cold, it’s also a great idea to have big sliding doors on the due-western side to allow light and warmth into the house in the afternoons. If you don’t already have decent sliding doors in your home, specialists such as AJ Doors Brisbane can help you find the door that’s perfect for letting light into your house.

If you already have big windows and sliding doors, ensure you are getting the most out of them. You might consider moving your bedroom to a room that gets morning light, rearranging furniture so the light opens into the house, or strategically placing mirrors to reflect and thus enhance the light through your house. Ensure you keep up with all sliding door repairs as needed to keep the doors sliding open easily. Easy access to the outdoors will encourage you to take time outside in the sun on days when the winter blues are getting you down.

If you’re feeling low in winter, don’t beat yourself up. Talk to your doctor about Seasonal Affective Disorder and let some light shine in.

This sponsored post is in collaboration with AJ Doors - all images are my own. If you are interested in a product review or sponsored post content appearing on Breathe Gently, please email me.

IVF #4 - Might Be Another Freeze All

Today's ultrasound showed some lovely follicles. We're looking at 7 measurable ones for retrieval late this week, which is what we were aiming for - a nice happy medium over 3 and less than 13!

I'm to take the stim drugs again in the morning, trigger tomorrow night & have egg collection Thursday morning.

I was really pleased... until they told me that, once again, my worst fears are coming true: my progesterone levels taken last week were already 4.1, so there is a very likely chance that this cycle is going to be another freeze all.

I just don't understand why this keeps happening?

We're now waiting on a phone call later this afternoon to confirm what the progesterone has done during this morning's blood test - but once again, I am totally devastated. I was so looking forward to a fresh transfer, and I was feeling a lot more positive about starting again and having a real shot at this.

Colour me Calm

There comes a point in the infertility journey where it's time to seek out some outside advice for therapy and coping strategies - there's no shame in that, and it's something that's been of great benefit to me since we lost our babies last year. For a while now, I've considered this second journey to pregnancy as being a lot more difficult than it was initially - though the first time around took longer, the actual IVF segment was a lot shorter & we didn't go through the devastating losses that we have this time around. With that said, I'm happy to have found someone who can help me work through it all.

I've tried a few things to help with my anxiety this year - a course of hypnotherapy, and teaching myself to meditate of an evening before bedtime. It helped me to wind down, to sleep better & to learn to switch off my mind instead of over-thinking anything and everything that was going on in my world.

Admittedly, after the first failed IVF transfer this year, I threw a bit of a hissy fit & chucked the hypnotherapy MP3's into my bedside drawer -- what good did they do, they obviously weren't helping matters.

But regardless of whether they helped get me pregnant, I definitely felt a lot more stressed out this last IVF transfer (which also failed) so I decided to dig it back out & try it again this time around.

I've also jumped on the colouring for adults bandwagon, which is really helping me to be a little more zen. I decided on a book of Mandalas, since they signify balance and cosmic order. The more you concentrate on the design, the more you can let go and relax - and the slow and steady colouring allows your mind to focus.

I'm taking my time with the colouring, so it's taking an awfully long time - but I think that's the point. Slow and steady.

What other strategies do you find useful to help you to calm down and be more mindful?

IVF #4 grab 'n stab: day 8

I had my first bloods taken yesterday, where they presumably check on the E2 and P4 levels, and haven't heard anything since - which means carry on as per normal. They wouldn't normally ring unless something was wrong, so I'm hopeful that means that things are progressing at a steady pace. That's what we want: not too fast, and not too slow. Fingers crossed.

In any case, my dose is still the same: 187.5 of Puregon + 250 of Orgalutran. In my last stim cycle, I'd already had a scan done by now & had a rough idea of how many follicles were growing. This time, my scan isn't booked until Monday - so I have NO idea what's going on in there!

I'm hoping for a reasonable bit of growth this time around. As excited as I was for more eggs (13 retrieved, 8 fertilised) last time around, that turned out to be my worst IVF cycle yet. My lowest-number cycle (3 retrieved, 3 fertilised) was our best, with Georgia & our two miscarriages - so quantity isn't always the way to go. I'd be thrilled with a nice happy medium of maybe 7-8 with good fertilisation and good growth. Trying not to be too greedy here but I'm also trying to be positive, so... fingers crossed.

My belly is sore from the shots, as always - it's the Orgalutran that stings and throbs the most. I'm feeling a little fuller & have gained a bit of weight, but nothing like the discomfort of last time. There are still a few more days of jabs to go, so we'll see what happens over the weekend.

Anyone else stimming along with me? :)

Go Your Own Way

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I'm excited to see where life takes you, kiddo. You are already so determined, you grab my hand and lead me around to where you want to go and what you want to see. There is so much in store for you & we can't wait for you to discover it.

Lucky vs Unlucky

There's something about getting started on a new cycle that brings about a whole lot of clarity. I always feel more positive and less cynical, and a tiny flutter of hope stirs in my too-often jaded heart.

I think it's partially because we are doing something, and moving forward - because waiting around and having no shot at getting pregnant is agony! I also think it's because it's a fresh try... no disappointments yet, no expectations - just fresh hope that we might just have a bit more luck this time around.

Lately I've been remembering back to when we first started trying for a baby - before the infertility meds, before the IVF, before any of that - just us, some charting & some Metformin for my wonky cycles. Those first few months were full of excitement, followed by frustration, followed by sadness and insecurity about what our future would look like. Watching people fall pregnant around us, even those that we didn't know personally, while we were still waiting. Watching those pregnancies turn into newborns, while we were still waiting. Watching those newborns grow up into beautiful little cherubs, and watching those parents grow their family even further with a new pregnancy, while we were still waiting. Those were some of the hardest moments, when we swallowed our disappointment, shed many tears, and held out hope that we would get there in the end, someday, somehow.

We're at about that timeframe again now, while trying for #2. The ones around us who were trying for another baby have either had that baby, are due for that baby any minute now, or are enjoying pregnancies - while we are still waiting. Does it make them lucky? Of course it does! Does it make us unlucky? I suppose so.

I've been so desperately searching for an answer to why we were dealt these cards again, why we've had so much thrown at us in the last few years... and I automatically assume that we're cursed, that we're unlucky, that we've done something to 'deserve' being the ones always left behind. But what I'm finally learning, after all these years & all these emotions, is that other people's luck doesn't have any influence on our luck. That's all it is, after all: luck.

Don't get me wrong - we have been unlucky. We have strugged, and we're continuing to struggle. Who knows, we might continue to struggle for the months to come; there are no guarantees here.

But we ARE lucky. We have each other, for all of our good and our bad. We have Georgia, who was worth every minute and every tear shed and every dollar spent. We have support systems who 'get' us, who cut us some slack during the tough times, and who forgive us when the emotions get the better of us. We live in a country where IVF is available to us, where we can try again - like we're doing now. We are lucky.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll GET lucky this cycle! :)

IVF #4 - Trying Again

I started jabbing with Gonal-F yesterday - surprise!

After being told that I would most likely have to go back on the pill and wait for a few weeks before going again, I conveniently got a period the morning of my Synacthen Stimulation Test (the one that was monitoring my adrenal gland function). While we don't have the results of that back yet, my doctor said that we were fine to get started in the meantime - so off we go.
We are doing the same protocol as last time, an antagonist or short cycle. That means I start injecting the Gonal-F for a few days, then add in the Orgalutran to ensure I don't ovulate - and we will adjust as we go. My first blood test is in a week to monitor my response - particularly my pesky raised progesterone. My fertility specialist has slightly reduced my dose of Gonal-F this month (from 200, to 187.5) to try and settle things down during the stimming process, so we'll see what happens.
I'm hopeful that this new round might give us a better shot. They always say it takes a few cycles to figure out a good response.
With my first long/down-reg IVF cycles in 2012 it took two rounds before we got a blastocyst good enough to transfer - and that was Georgia. Maybe it'll take two rounds of this antagonist protocol before we hit the jackpot. It's all such a gamble.
Please let me get in a fresh, 5-day transfer in this cycle. Pretty please with a cherry on top!

A Kiddo Update

Georgia is a delight. Growing like a weed, keeping us on our toes, and going through a gorgeous phase of being snuggly and sweet and empathetic, and oh man, do I love it. Not long after her birthday, we decided to wean her off the dummy and it went amazingly well - the Easter Bunny helped to ease the transition, but really, we were so proud of how quickly she let that go. 
She's been doing a single day at childcare for a few months now and we're seeing her blossom as she learns new things and interacts with her daycare friends. Being that she's the youngest in her daycare classroom, we noticed that her expressive language seemed a little bit behind the other kids - so were referred to a hearing clinic to have her tested. She passed that hearing test with flying colours, so we're just going to keep encouraging her to increase her language a little bit each day.
It's been so sweet watching Georgia fall in love with her little cousin. She's gone from total disinterest, to being completely smitten - she wants to kiss him constantly, she's sharing toys, and she just wants to be near him. I love it, but I'll admit, it kind of makes my heart ache a little too, because I know she would have loved being a big sister to our little ones that weren't to be.
I still can't believe I have a two year old! She's blowing my mind every day, and I'm so grateful that she's ours! 

Five Ways the Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: Sponsored Post

Confession time: late afternoon/early evenings in our household are pretty much chaos. It's usually just Georgia & I, and we're both pretty tired - tired, hungry & lacking patience! What works for us one night tends to fall flat the next night, but we'll try anything once. So far, a little snack helps to keep her calm while I scurry around the kitchen.

Since Georgia's still little, her help in the kitchen is a bit limited, but I look forward to her helping me more in the future.

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Cooking and watching your little ones simultaneously can create a big headache. You need to prepare the meal, but you also need to ensure the safety of your kids at the same time. Why not solve two problems at once and have your kids help you cook? It will help them learn a skill and give them a sense of accomplishment from helping prepare dinner for the family. Here are some ways to get them involved.

1. Start at the Grocery Store

The grocery store may be the last place you want to go. But for a child, there are many things that grab attention. With your list in hand, have your child help you pick out certain items or help you decide what to eat for dinner. By involving them in the process from the beginning, they can develop a deeper appreciation for what goes into making a meal.
My grocery store helper - she loves the colours and sights at the local shops.

2. Add and Stir Ingredients

Depending on the age of your children, some activities may not be appropriate. Decide what they can handle and what they can be responsible for (using sharp utensils, for example). Have them begin by adding the ingredients and then stirring. The mixing can be a great eye-opener for a child because they can see that, from their efforts, the ingredients have now blended together.

3. Set the Table

A staple in many households is to have the kids set and clear the table before and after dinner. This can help teach your child responsibility through caring for the dishes, but it also forces your family to spend valuable time together while eating, an activity that is sadly becoming more and more uncommon for the average household.

4. Make the Food Easy to Use

Children can achieve maximum confidence when a job they are given works well. Although the task may be relatively simple, their success can build self-esteem. Have them help you prepare their lunch boxes or an afternoon snack. This may involve you preparing the items in advance. Open up the snack drawer and have them help you count out the pretzels (or apples or whatever) into their specific spots. Even if you do the cutting while they put the food on the plate, this small step can go a long way towards raising their ability to take care of themselves later on.

5. Get Creative

The kitchen is a place where you can get creative. Let your children unleash their imagination by experimenting with ingredients and playing with tastes. Make it a game by guessing whether the dish will taste good or not! Either way, you’ll have a fun time testing the waters. Cultivating creativity can also be helpful for children who are picky eaters; it lets them figure out what they may actually like.
This little lady is a fussy eater, but she's beginning to enjoy new tastes & textures!
The kitchen is a place for families to spend time together by working towards a common goal. Before you invite the kids to get crafty in the kitchen, make sure it’s a child-friendly zone by fitting it out with top-of-the-line appliances from a specialist such as ASKO. With the right gear, an open mindset and some creative kids, who knows what delicious (or deliciously disastrous) feasts might get cooked up!

This sponsored post is in collaboration with ASKO - all images are my own. If you are interested in a product review or sponsored post content appearing on Breathe Gently, please email me.

Both Sides Now

I've been an infertile for quite a few Mother's Day milestones now. It never gets any easier. You never forget.

I've been on both sides now. Desperate sadness, and the devastating longing for a little one to call my own. Utter joy, when I spent my first Mother's Day as an actual mum myself. Since then, the emotions sway back and forth. I'm so proud and grateful to be Georgia's mummy, but I'm missing my two angels & grieving the 'should have beens' as I sit here with an empty womb. It's tough when your mood swaps from celebratory to sad in a matter of minutes.

This Mother's Day, I'm going to soak up the love I have for my daughter, breathe in the scent of her sweet toddler hair, feel my heart soar when she plants a smooch right on my lips and says 'miss you, mama'. I'm going to do artwork with her, capture her 2-year old handprints in paint, and feel so lucky that I get to keep her, that she's mine, she's ours. But I'm also going to remember those two other little ones who were also mine, even just for a short time. They were our babies too.

My heart aches for my lost ones, and for the women I know (and I don't know) who are Mothers with children in their heart and soul, but not in their arms.

I'm remembering for you, and for us, today.

Hormonal Imbalances & More Waiting

This morning's appointment totally floored me. You might recall that we've been researching and trying to decide between sticking with our current clinic, or trialling a new clinic for our next fresh stim cycle. We've had appointments with both, and were waiting on their protocol information before we made a decision. Turns out that both specialists have recommended the exact same protocol... a short antagonist cycle, exactly the same dose of Puregon (187.5-200 with plenty of monitoring of progesterone levels) and additional progesterone support post-transfer.

Unfortunately though, it turns out that my routine blood-work done on CD3 this month, showed some concerning levels. I've been referred for further testing - they are worried that I may have congenital adrenal hyperplasia (late onset/non-classical) - which is basically an overload of male androgens that never regulate properly, too much testosterone and free progesterone floating around my body throughout my cycles, and symptoms that go hand in hand with PCOS.

Because my current doctor is an Endocrinologist as well as a Fertility Specialist, she's recommending I go and have a Synacthen Stimulating Test at the hospital as soon as possible, where they will get a better idea of what's going on, and whether it IS just the PCOS going nuts, or if it's an adrenal issue causing problems. They'll still do IVF of course, but I may need things tweaked if it comes back positive. Treatment is with steroids, and lots of additional monitoring, I believe.

Hopefully I'll get that booked in soon.. and once the test is done, I can go on Provera for 10 days to end this stupid rest cycle and get started! I've requested that I do NOT want day 1/2 embryo freezing if we have progesterone issues in future stim cycles, I want them all grown out from the get go. My specialist said that it's against their protocol so she'll take it up with the scientists - but conceded that she thinks frozen cycles aren't really beneficial for me with the stresses of ovulating for a natural FET/progesterone issues on the HRT.

She's also recommending endo scratching for future frozen cycles if that becomes necessary. She is also organising testing for the bloodwork that goes with endometriosis, though she doesn't think this is an issue for me.. I suppose she just wants to rule things out. She mentioned that I've never had a Laparoscopy before, but I've never had any reasons to - so I'd prefer not to do that if there's no cause for concern there.

So now, we try to book in for this CAH test and see what the results are. I'm frustrated at the waiting around AGAIN, as time keeps on ticking... it has been so hard watching everyone else decide to start trying for a baby, falling pregnant, and even having their babies or going back for seconds, while you're still waiting - despite our journey beginning earlier than theirs. I'm really worried that we'll have a whopping age difference between kids if we do get lucky again in the future... which is not what we wanted. Hopefully ruling this issue out will mean we can get back to business and get prepared to try again.

(I still think we're cursed.)

#MicroblogMondays

Watching the entire world freak out over the royal baby being named, reminds me of when you're infertile & everyone else gets to use your baby names before you.

#justsaying 

What's Next?

We have our WTF (post-IVF fail) appointment with our fertility specialist this coming Friday. I had initially scheduled it a few weeks ago for during our TWW, so that we could move straight on to a new cycle without too much waiting. Unfortunately, they had to reschedule the appointment - and so, here we are, now wasting yet another month. Frustrated is an understatement, let me tell you.

Since we've had absolutely no luck in the past few cycles, we talked about trying somewhere new - maybe getting a fresh set of eyes to look over our history and give us an idea of what is going wrong. We had an initial consultation with a new clinic, which is a bit more expensive than our current one.. and we're waiting on them to get back to us with a potential protocol for us. Once we have that, and we talk to our current specialist this week, we'll weigh up between the two and decide what to do.

In the meantime, I've had my day 3 bloodwork done for both clinics (nothing like a double whammy of tests, right?) and hubby's done his as well - plus his, er, contribution, to check on how the little guys are going. I'm going back on birth control too, so we can at least control this 'wait' cycle a little bit, since if I go medication free, chances are I won't get another period in 2015. (I wish I was kidding.)

I've also upped my supplements, to see if it helps with my egg quality & crazy hormones. In my daily routine right now, not including the birth control pill, is Metformin, Elevit prenatals, Vitamin D, Megafol, low dose aspirin, Inositol & coQ-10.*

Georgia decided my band-aid needed a smiley sticker, because mama got an 'ouch'. 
Any other ideas for supplements or for egg quality that I'm missing? Open to all suggestions!

*I should add, these are just my morning doses- there are additional ones for the evening! Some are fairly hefty - that Vit D alone is 5000! Packs a punch in a teeny tiny tablet. :) 

Waiting for a Period

My official test day is today - and unsurprisingly, it's still a BFN. Another failed cycle, no miracles here.

It's always crap to see a negative after IVF, but it's even worse when it's after using the last of your embryos. There's no quick jumping into another frozen transfer, there's nothing else to try. Instead, it's back to waiting around for specialist appointments, for further testing {hello, blood panels}, for a new period, and for a new protocol. Waiting is agony. What I wouldn't give to just be able to try again next month, without the $$$ and the jabs and the hormones.
Anyway... now we wait.
A friend of mine, who is one of the loveliest & strongest people that I have the pleasure to know, put this up as a profile picture this week. I loved it so much that I saved it straight away. 
I feel like it sums up our journey right now too - and for now, it's all I've got - at least until we get a new plan in place.

How to Actively Reduce Your Stress Levels: Sponsored Post

The FET cycle before this one, I decided to indulge in a little bit of me-time, to try to help my anxiety. I thought I would try something new, and took on a four-week block of hypnotherapy and relaxation sessions. It wasn't cheap, but it was something I thought might help me deal with all of the stress of the last 18 months. I do think it helped... but I really need to make sure I get back into my nightly mp3 sessions to make sure this continues into the next part of our IVF journey.

Some of these tips might help with your stress levels too! :)

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Doesn’t it just seem like every minute of the day is fuelled with high-pressure requirements? Every report is needed urgently, every phone call is a high priority, and thanks to these new too-smart phones, you are expected to be available at all times. With all these pressures, it is important to actively do things to reduce your stress levels. Below is a list of suggestions to help take you from hyped-up to wound-down in no time.

Embrace the water

There is nothing quite like the feeling of tranquillity that comes over you when you sit, alone, in a boat with a thermos of tea and a fishing rod. Left alone with nothing but your thoughts, it gives you the very rare opportunity to switch off from work, home life and financial stresses, and just focus on the nature around you. You might even be able to find a spot where you can’t get mobile reception – bliss! Use the opportunity to catch some fresh fish for dinner – just don’t forget to bring along proper equipment like rods and lures (you can get them at stores like MOTackle), or you might find yourself a little hungry that night!

Getting out on the ocean - Coral Coast, Fiji

Switch off the TV

Most people spend all day jumping between their desktop computer, their laptop or tablet, and their smart phone. The last thing your body wants when you finally get home is to sit down again in front of another screen. Replace TV time with a walk or a trip to the gym, and let the endorphins do their stuff. Do your best to restrict your television consumption to the weekends, or a maximum amount of time each night, to give your eyes a bit more rest. You might also find that turning off the onslaught of advertisements, reality television programs and loud noise makes you feel physically calmer. Just try it for a week, and see if you feel better!

Write a diary

This might seem a little uncool, but writing a diary (and hand-writing, not typing on a computer) can be a great, free therapist. It gives you the opportunity to vent frustrations without ruining work or personal relationships, and taking the time to sit with a pen and paper can in itself be calming. Just don’t put pressure on yourself to write the next famous novel. Your thoughts don’t have to be poetry (although a limerick can be fun and therapeutic) – they just need to help you stay calm.

Most my my journalling is here on the blog, but I do like to doodle!

Adopt a hobby – or two – or three

Finding your life too wrapped up in stress? Too much work, not enough money, far too many home life pressures? Get yourself into a night class and learn a new skill. Make it something fun – don’t go into a night class for pure mathematics (unless that is your thing, in which case, good for you!). Think pottery classes, hip hop dance classes, or even cake decorating classes. Anything that will get you in a safe, fun space and away from your troubles for a while.

What’s your go-to stress-reducing activity? Share your suggestions below, and help your fellow stress-pots out!

This sponsored post is in collaboration with MOTackle - all images are my own. If you are interested in a product review or sponsored post content appearing on Breathe Gently, please email me.





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