We're a group of hard working, goal smashing, well warriors through and through, right?! But, do you ever just feel like you could quite literally sleep for a week and it still wouldn’t be enough? Do you sometimes feel that no matter what you do, it's not enough?
Thank goodness, me too.
Then this blog is for you honey.
Did you know that feeling like a permanently exhausted pigeon could all be stress and hormone related? It’s time to take a look at where this excessive exhaustion is coming from and how we can take the steps to getting back to our tip top selves.
I was waking up anxious, holding back tears and with barely enough energy to get dressed after another restless and downright crappy night’s sleep. I knew I had to try something else, a different approach to this train harder, eat less 'wellbeing' culture we all fall prey too. I didn’t think I’d ever get through the day let alone another week.
The culprit? Stress.
It’s a horrible feeling to not be yourself and to feel constantly exhausted, like you may snap at any one and at any point (and believe me, did I snap at a few poor, unlucky souls).
The stress hormone cortisol can play havoc on your entire hormone system resulting in all the unusual and unhappy feelings that you don’t associate with your normal kick ass self.
By affecting the thyroid, stress can make weight control a real challenge, fast weight gain, an inability to lose weight or even dramatic weight loss can happen before you even realise something's not right with your hormones.
Cortisol also makes it difficult for you to produce serotonin, the happy hormone – hence those down in the dumps days, and an increase in stomach acid can make your digestion do weird and uncomfortable things like temporary IBS, nausea, diarrhoea, cramps, constipation and more.
Hey, we've all been there my friend. ;)
However, the icing on this nasty tasting cake, is the sex hormones – progesterone and oestrogen, which can be a nightmare for us ladies at the best of times but during times of heightened stress but can trigger irregular periods, weight gain, acne breakouts, emotional distress, loss of sex drive and hair loss (all of which, sound like a source of stress by themselves).
Our whole bodies from the inside out can be affected by excessive and/or prolonged stress. It’s therefore important that we learn to reduce it, avoid it, adapt to it and recover from it.
So what steps can we take to avoid unnecessary stress and hormone imbalances?
First things first, coffee and exercise – two things I love very much. However, too much of both can make your bodies stress response go into overdrive. Even though coffee may feel like the only thing kicking you out of zombie mode right now, overconsumption of caffeine can spike your cortisol levels. So watch your intake and try to limit it as much as possible. Find other things to energise your day like water with a slice of lemon, a kick ass smoothie and natural energy boosters like nut butters and berries, spirulina and flax seeds.
The same goes for exercise – too much and your body will produce excessive levels of the stress hormone. With the right amount however, the happy hormone production levels will increase, you will have a healthy outlet for your stress and anger and a challenging workout will serve as a distraction from the sources of stress. Try a workout that requires a lot of focus and concentration, like boxing or a workout class with your focus on technique and external motivation. Or, training with a buddy can really help keep you focussed in the gym and distracted from a brain overload. Gym buddy selfie anyone?
To make sure that you aren’t overdoing it on the training front try to make one or two of your workouts yoga based. Studies show that time spent slow and deep breathing can reduce levels of cortisol (and blood pressure) while stretching can help to ease tension and pain throughout the body reducing stress headaches and tiredness.
Take a look at your lunchbox too and make sure it is jam packed with stress busting foods like asparagus, avocado, oranges, fatty fish, almonds, turkey, spinach and blueberries.
Finally, just make sure you are taking some time for yourself. A little stress hormone in the bloodstream can do wonders for our workouts and our girl bossing abilities but too much and the whole lot can come crashing down. Me, I like to spend just 10-30 mins each day unwinding without any distractions. Whether it’s straight after work, before work or just before bed – no phone, no tv, no chat, just me with my eyes closed breathing slowly (yes sometimes I fall asleep, napping is good for stress relief too).
Soon, that permanently exhausted pigeon that you may feel like now will be back to an ass kicking, goal smashing, sky soaring eagle.
Not bad hey? ;)
Any questions about your own personal journey with stress then comment below well warrior.
We've got your back.