“How are you?”
“Oh, you know - I’m so busy.”
How often do you hear that as a legitimate response from someone when you ask how they are doing? How often is that your own response?
In our fast paced society, we tend to glorify busy. As if being busy is going to make us any more successful or well. We run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off because we think that’s going to make us healthier, wealthier and more well liked. Maybe we do it because we don’t want to be perceived as, oh my god, lazy, or better yet - selfish.
I want you to stop for a second, take a peek in your iPhones calendar or your little old-school day planner (don’t worry I have one too), and look at your week. Have you scheduled any down time? Do you have anything planned for you? I mean just you. What’s there? Play dates for the kids. Vet appointments. Work. Meetings. Interviews. Exams. Study sessions. Dinner at the in-laws. Whatever it is, ask yourself this: Am I doing this for me or for someone else? I also want you to take a second and ask yourself when was the last time you planned something just for yourself? A spa day. A yoga class. A home workout. A bubble bath. Maybe a couple hours to just read?
We have glorified being busy and it is not serving us.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into women’s hormones and how to balance them. The biggest thing I have taken from my research? Our hormone’s are out of whack more than ever before because we are STRESSED.
You see our bodies were designed with a system that allows us to fight or run away called fight or flight. It was designed to help us run away from tigers, bears - you know the thing trying to eat us. This can be defined as stress. Now today we aren’t often running away from lions, tigers or bears, right? But we still face stressors everyday - our jobs, our finances, the kids, cleaning the house, school, to do lists, environmental stressors - the list goes on and on. Our body doesn’t know the difference between the two things and simply recognizes the bodies physiological response to stress. We are more stressed than ever before and in fact, we are chronically stressed. This poses some issues.
When we are stressed our body does a few things. First it takes all of our energy and puts it towards fighting or fleeing from our stress. Your brain tells your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline, which are meant to help you deal with the stressor. When the stress is gone, the brain tells your adrenals to stop secreting the hormones and everything goes back to normal. But this doesn’t happen anymore, because we are chronically stressed the f*%^ out.
Here are a few things that happen to your bod when you are stressed:
you breath harder and faster
your heart pumps faster
your blood vessels constrict, raising your blood pressure
your liver produces extra glucose to give you an energy boost, and whatever is not used get’s reabsorbed into the body
the hormones, rapid breathing and increased heart rate can upset your digestive system and leave you more susceptible to heartburn, acid reflux + ulcers
your muscles tighten up (sore body + headaches anyone?)
your hormonal + reproductive systems are a mess - low sex drive, missed or irregular periods, PMS, infertility, etc
over time the constant high levels of cortisol drain your immune system, meaning you get sick more often
I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds very appealing. But back to the relationship between stress and hormones. Stress raises our cortisol levels, which is always in competition with progesterone in our body. However, cortisol always wins and can shut everything down in way of hormone regulation and production.
Progesterone ladies, is the primary hormone for fertility and pregnancy + it’s also really important to feeling good. Low progesterone in the body, which is common in those under chronic stress, can cause irregular periods, heavy bleeding and painful periods. Here’s a very radical truth: our period isn’t supposed to hurt or leave us in bed all week. Woah. Really? I’m totally serious. We aren’t supposed to be bed ridden, suffering from PMS, exhausted, doubled over by cramps or cranky as a mother f%&*$#@. We’re actually supposed to feel pretty fabulous, and a lot of the reason so many of us don’t feel fabulous is because of stress + out of whack hormones.
When we are in the flow + taking care of our bodies, inside and out, we feel pretty good. As women, we owe it to ourselves and all of the amazing people around us to take care of ourselves. You can’t give from an empty cup my dears, so let’s start by filling up yours. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your stress + nourish your body:
get clear on what is stressing you out
eliminate those stressors or find other ways to deal with them, maybe even ask for help?
schedule in time outs just for you
breathe. Start with taking two minutes a day to just sit + breathe.
eat well: make sure you are getting enough fat, protein + carbs and that you are eating nutrient dense foods (guess what? most women are actually underrating + that’s why they can’t loose any weight)
get to know your cycle: chart it
drink enough water
go to bed, seriously start sleeping more
schedule down dog
spend some time outside + get grounded (also vitamin D is pretty awesome)
take a bubble bath
create a ritual for yourself: all about what feels good to you + do that everyday, or even just once a week, whether it be a skin care routine, waking up and having a cup of tea outside, going for a walk with a inspiring podcast in your ear
Let’s stop glorifying busy + slow the eff down, OK?