WTH is... a series that touches on the health issues that women all over the world face. Get your facts sorted, and perhaps, finally get the help you deserve. #teambusywoman
When you’re feeling tired, stressed and not thinking clearly, everything feels so much harder. A few years ago, I realized that I continually felt zapped of energy, was constantly getting sick and felt a general lack of enthusiasm for life. I also found that I was relying on caffeine and sugar to give me energy boosts throughout the day. Even though I had already retired as a professional dancer, I was still periodically experiencing chronic pain and muscle spasms.
What was going on?
It wasn’t until I started exploring alternative treatments like kinesiology where I began to understand how much stress we go through and how it affects our bodies…because, well, let’s face it - life can be stressful! As Busy Women, we are often juggling a variety of roles & responsibilities, whether it be our families, careers, health, relationships, living in a city like Hong Kong…the list is endless, in addition to dealing with our own expectations of what we are meant to be and achieve.
It came to my awareness that many of my symptoms were signs of adrenal fatigue, which is closely linked to long-term stress. When we’re stressed for extended periods of time, our adrenal glands, which are located on the top of our kidneys, are responsible for producing stress hormones, one of which includes cortisol. Having too much or too little cortisol can cause a whole slew of imbalances and symptoms like chronic fatigue, weight gain, mood swings and lowered immune function.
As humans, our physiological response to stress is actually designed for us to be able to deal with stress in the most physically effectively way possible and when faced with a stressor, one of the survival mechanisms that occurs is a “fight” or “flight” response. However, once the stressor (lion, tiger, bear, etc.) is gone, our body should return to homeostasis. Or does it?
In today’s go-go-go world, where smartphones keep us constantly connected, and the pressure of making our business, families and relationships work, it can be challenging to keep our stress levels under control. Say the stressor in your life is work, or your boss, or even your life at home - it could be a something you have to face on a daily basis.
So, what you can do?
There are a few things you can do to give yourself the support you need. Blood tests are a good way to see if your cortisol levels to are too high or too low. I strongly suggest working with a naturopath or a kinesiologist, as well as your regular MD, in order to get the best possible idea of the big picture and to gain a better understanding of supplements to take should your body require additional nutritional support.
One of the best things you can do for yourself to prevent and treat adrenal stress is to commit to practicing self-care. Eat nourishing food and cultivate practices to help you manage your stress. Try yoga, meditation or regular sessions of a holistic, complementary therapy to help with stress management like kinesiology, cranio-sacral therapy, shiatsu massage or even rolfing. Mindfulness techniques can also support you by gradually increasing self-awareness and helping you stay centered and grounded during stressful times.
Take time out to do the things you love and make your mental and emotional well-being a priority, too. Most importantly, be patient with the journey and with yourself! Remember to make a point to acknowledge, love, accept and approve of yourself and all that you do.
Article contributed by The Busy Woman Project Expert Lia Wong.
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