The holidays are stressful! Life is stressful! We’re all familiar with stress — it’s a constant element in women’s busy lives and many of the conditions I see in my office begin with too much stress.
What we aren’t so familiar with is the body’s response to stress and the ways in which the stress we face today goes far beyond the kind of stress we faced as we evolved. The body was not designed for 24/7 stress. Let’s take stock and allow ourselves to take care of ourselves first then take care of others. It’s not about being superwoman or perfect, it’s about balance.
Let’s make 2018 the year of women choosing self care as a priority.
When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies rely on the adrenal glands sitting atop our kidneys to monitor our “fight or flight” response. For the most part, our stress response evolved from short-term events — crises that came and went. If we had to run from a predator, for example, our healthy adrenal glands responded by releasing adrenaline, which makes us more alert and focused, and cortisol, which converts protein to energy and releases our stored sugar, glycogen, so our bodies have the fuel needed to respond quickly.
In concert, the adrenal response rapidly increases our heart and respiratory rates and blood pressure while releasing energy, tensing our muscles, sharpening our senses, and slowing our digestion so we are primed to escape or fight back, whichever is needed. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal — quickly with respect to adrenaline levels, less quickly with respect to cortisol.
That’s right: Short bursts and then recovery! Prolonged stress over time is lethal.
Permission to nurture yourself: Granted!
Here’s the good news. Self-care can help restore balance.
If, like many women, you spend a lot of your time taking care of everyone else, it’s more important than ever to make time for yourself.
Do something to care for your body, your mind and your soul — like eating nutritious food, sleep, getting a massage, a walk out in nature, meditation twice a day for 10 minutes, or even taking a hot bath.
Chronic stress repeatedly forces the adrenal glands to sustain high levels of cortisol and two things happen: first, the adrenals can’t attend to their broader role which is to make and regulate hormones like estrogen and progesterone, and second, cortisol starts to damage healthy tissues. Eventually, adrenal fatigue sets in, and many women experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, sugar and salt cravings and mood swings. Once the adrenals become depleted, exhaustion sets in and it leads to much more serious health concerns.
There are many ways to replenish adrenal health naturally. If you are struggling with finding balance come in and see us so we can help get you back on track.
Best and have a health week and breathe..