Starting at Stress

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So you’ve checked your symptoms, done your tests and you know you have a hormonal imbalance, “What now?” I hear you say. Before we dive into any solutions it is important you know that healing takes  time and that its a lifestyle change- you’ve got to be committed because there are no quick fix solutions. Instead I want to provide you with more sustainable changes that will help you manage your hormones without causing any major disruptions to your life.

With so much stress in our lives I think it is only appropriate to start at the very topic of stress.

We often think of stress as something that we’ve just got to accept as part of our daily lives but stress was designed to occasionally be a coping mechanism rather than a chronic condition. At the heart of your stress response is the hormone cortisol which actually regulates many physiological processes including cravings, sleeping, and blood pressure.

When your stressed your adrenal glands release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to prepare you for fighting or fleeing. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, your breathing rate and the blood flow to your muscles while cortisol suppresses your digestion, immunity and reproductive drive. Your body does this because it simply thinks that when their is danger there is no time for you to digest, fight disease or make babies!

Unfortunately our stress response still lives in the stone age, literally, and perceives stress over an exam exactly the same way it perceives stress from a ferocious tiger that is about to attack every bone in your body. So what does that do? Well, being in stress mode 24/7 because of the lurking deadlines, bills that are due and your never ending ‘To do’ list will eventually cause adrenal fatigue. Your body simply cannot stay healthy if you are constantly alarmed. As a result your immunity, digestion and even creativity begin to suffer. But it can get more serious with hair loss, insomnia and diabetes being some of the long term consequences of accumulated stress hormones.

But don’t despair there are many ways  to manage stress and high cortisol from exercise to getting the right amount of sleep. Here are some small steps you can take,

Sleep:

  • Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • The best times to go to bed are 9-10 and waking up 6-7.
  • Try not to do any exercise or stimulating activity before you got to bed as this will increase cortisol and make it hard for you to fall asleep.
  • Read a book or listen to relaxing music before bed to help you sleep well.

Eating:

  • Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and include protein in it so that you have long lasting energy.
  • Eat regularly. Have snacks in between meals so that you keep your blood sugar levels stable.
  • Avoid caffeine, sugary foods and processed foods as these will only make your symptoms worse. I know this may be a hard one but when you keep your sugar levels stable by doing these tips then you won’t crave sugar as much.

Exercise:

  • Exercise. You’ve heard it before but the key is to do something you enjoy even if its a walk.
  • Try different workout combinations such as weight and cardiovascular exercise.
  • Try to exercise in the morning especially between 6-7 if you can. This helps regulate cortisol.
  • Don’t do heavy workout if you can’t this will only make adrenal fatigue worse.

Relax!

  • Read a book.
  • Try yoga or meditation.
  • Get a massage.
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2 thoughts on “Starting at Stress

  1. I think it’s important to consider the reality that some people’s lifestyles are inherently stressful. For example, if you are a practicing surgeon in a busy hospital, your occupation demands irregular rest times and constant concentration lest your misjudgements cause harm to patients. Accepting this reality, your state of mind is also internal to an extent, and you do decide whether to transcend your mental condition or to be burdened by it. Lifestyle, however, is still a large contributing factor.

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