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Long Island IVF’s Complete Mind Body Program

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

May 2nd, 2014 at 7:29 am

 

credit: david castillo/freedigitalphotos.net

With Mother’s Day around the bend, and Bereaved Mother’s Day coming this Sunday (for those who have suffered baby or child loss), it’s a good time to remind you of Long Island IVF’s many supportive counselors on staff, and to call your attention to the Mind Body Program and its benefits.

Bina Benisch is a Registered Professional Nurse and a psychotherapist with an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling. She did her Mind Body Medicine training at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

Bina is the support group coordinator, patient advocate, and stress management psychotherapist for Long Island IVF, working with both female and male patients. Her groups are wildly popular, and she always has room for more.

Bina explains the Long Island IVF Mind Body Program and its benefits for those couples trying to conceive:

 

Life changes.  You’ve had your intentions, your hopes, and your dreams of where life would take you.  What you may not have envisioned is suddenly being a member of the population that struggles with infertility.  Being diagnosed with infertility – for any reason – “unexplained,” male factor, or female factor, can feel like a lonely, isolating experience for many reasons.  The fact is that most women never expected to be in this position, and this is often one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life.  Feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and anger can be overwhelming during infertility.  Often, anger masks the feelings of loss experienced month after month of trying to conceive without success. Infertility impacts on one’s marriage, self-esteem, sexual relationship, family, friends, job, and financial security. 

Our Mind Body Program provides a space where you can relax, a place where you are free to express whatever it is you are feeling … a sacred circle of connection and support.  I have been told by women who have participated in the Mind Body Support Group that they experience a huge relief by connecting with other women who really “get it,” who understand these unique feelings. During the sessions, I take part of the time to teach Mind Body methods to elicit the relaxation response (emotional and physiological relaxation).  In this way, you can learn to practice these methods on your own on a daily basis

 

 

In our Mind Body support group, patients experience the opportunity to share information, feelings, or their own personal stories. You may be surprised to see how your support can help others or you may be relieved to hear others experiencing the same type of thoughts and feelings as you experience. Often, the supportive nature of this group, and the connection that develops between members, fosters a healing process.
Feelings of isolation, anger, and stress are slowly relieved. Our Mind Body program focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response is actually a physical state that counteracts the stress response. You can think of it as the physiological opposite of the body’s stress response. We cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time.

Therefore when a person elicits the relaxation response, the body’s stress response is halted, stress hormones diminish.  It is important to understand fertility holistically. Your mind and body work together, not separately. Therefore your thoughts have a direct effect on your physiology. When you are experiencing stress, your brain releases stress hormones. These stress hormones function in many ways. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, has been documented to interfere with the release of the reproductive hormones, GnRH (gonadatropin releasing hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estrogen, and progesterone. In fact, severe enough stress can completely inhibit the reproductive system. Cortisol levels have also been linked to very early pregnancy loss. For this reason, it has been found extremely helpful when treating infertility, to include mind body strategies which help to alleviate the stress responses which may inhibit fertility.

All mind body methods ultimately cause the breathing to become deeper and slower. This causes stress responses such as heart rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure to decrease. The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided visual imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness, and meditation. Awareness of the mind body connection allows us to use our minds to make changes in our physiology. This holistic treatment – combining bio-medical science with mind body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect.  The fact is, body and mind work together.

Let’s not forget the men. Men often feel uncertain about the ‘right’ way to support their partners, and don’t realize how they themselves are affected. We now offer our “Just For Guys Group.” In sharing how infertility affects the men, their relationships, and each man’s deepest sense of self, these men gain insight, and experience support during what can be an isolating and difficult time.

We invite and encourage you to take advantage of this unique area of support provided by The Mind Body Program at Long Island IVF. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1bGAvNb

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If you have ever met Bina or been part of one of her groups and would like to share your experience, please do so.

Photo credit: David Castillo http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php

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Linking Traumatic Stress of Infertility and Hurricane Sandy

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

November 15th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’ve been struggling to conceive unsuccessfully, you know what it is to experience feelings of loss of control over your life and your body.  We live in a society which teaches us if we take the right steps, follow our dream, or do the work, we will produce the desired result. While it is true that our lives evolve and grow based on our attempts to attain certain goals, our true sense of safety and security is based on the most fundamental of needs being met.  These needs, for most of us, have been taken for granted: shelter, food, water, plumbing, heat, as well as the freedom to choose the way in which we spend our days.

In the same way, the lifelong vision that so many of us hold as we grow into adulthood – marriage and creating a family, are long held expectations that we take for granted. When we are suddenly faced with a new reality – that conception may not come as expected – our world, our life, as we had envisioned it, feels completely shaken to the core.  This is experienced as an emotional loss of the vision and identity we’ve known.

Now compound the feelings of emotional loss, and loss of control due to infertility with having lived through a hurricane of disaster proportions. Experiencing the loss of our very basic sense of safety due to flooding, loss of electricity, and natural wreckage of neighborhoods, has left many of us completely bereft — through experiencing at least a glimmer of our true vulnerability and lack of control. Even if we were not affected as seriously as others, this heightened sense of vulnerability produces a chronic underlying emotional trauma, as we grapple for ways to challenge or change the current reality and create a sense of emotional or physical stability. This trauma is manifested by physiological stress due to a chronic and persistent anxiety reaction. In turn, this stress causes changes in the body which may cause illness in the long run, as well as interfere with the ability to conceive.

How do you manage this anxiety? What can you do to help cope with this stress?

At Long Island IVF, we provide stress management and emotional support as part of our Mind Body Program in small group sessions for women, as well as a separate support group just for men.

Some tips for alleviating anxiety:

 

  • Cultivate breath awareness for 10 to 20 minutes by focusing on your inhalation and exhalation, as well as the nanosecond pause between each.
  • Allow your in-breath to be deep, and your out-breath to be slow and a touch longer than the in-breath.
  • Focusing on those things you DO have control over at this time – such as preparation and tasks toward your goals – can reinforce your sense of empowerment while, at the same time, allowing you to let go of the attachment to control those matters which are not in your control.
  • Creating distractions through leisure activities, writing, reading, art, music, games, social activities, or any number of ways, can be healthy coping skills which help us to decrease physical anxiety and quiet the anxious mind.

For more information on our Mind Body Program and support, please contact Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. binabenisch@gmail.com or call 631-397-0096.

 

 

 

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