Solutions for Stressful Symptoms Of All Sorts
Chronic stress is real and is hurting our hormone balance. Low thyroid & estrogen can decrease brain function resulting in stressful symptoms like brain fog and memory loss. These hormones impact mood, energy & brain health. Thyroid affects metabolism & weight. When it’s low everything slows down. You might feel cold.
Estrogen lowers appetite, makes you more social & increases libido. When it’s low so is energy & focus. Building muscle becomes more difficult. Chronically high stress can have a downstream effect on both these hormones. In my clinic, I discuss ways to manage the stress we have control over recognizing that some things we can’t control.
As women, our hormones are the canary in the coal mine. Stressors like environmental toxins disrupt the endocrine system resulting in severe fatigue, heavy cycles, infertility & a host of other symptoms. Hyperarousal of the stress response negatively impacts the whole hormonal cascade beginning with cortisol & insulin.
Having your experience dismissed or minimized makes it more difficult to overcome health challenges and trauma. In fact it is re-traumizing to reach out for help but not get it. This can be worse than the initial insult.
Social injustices like systemic racism & domestic violence continue when perpetrators aren’t held accountable over & over & over.
Victim blaming is common. Get to know what this is. It is insidious in progressive white dialogue. Hearing ‘the individual can always overcome’ moves the responsibility away from those who benefit from oppression or have perpetrated the violence.
Women’s bodies bear the brunt of this. And the medical system is not set up to be an ally. In fact there is a long history of black bodies being used for medical experiments without the use of pain killers. Oftentimes women were raped and left maimed. White men took credit for the achievements of black people.
75% Experience Chronic Stress
Hyperarousal is when the stress response doesn’t come down…like ever. It leads to burnout & depression. Before burnout it can feel like chronic anxiety that causes 40% of people to overeat & 30% to skip meals. Both lead to metabolic issues.
Almost half of those with chronically high stress experience poor sleep. This makes recovery nearly impossible
Women are affected more than men likely because of how many extra roles we play today. Men worry about their own work whereas women worry about kids, work & their partner’s work. Between 75-90% of doctor visits are stress related but the conventional system isn’t set up to address this.
Thorough cortisol testing is helpful & longer appointments allow a functional medicine practitioner to address lifestyle factors. This is where the solutions are. Meditation is a superpower. Have you used it to regulate stress? Or do you stick to caffeine like most of us?
When Caffeine Creates Panic
About half of all people don’t metabolize caffeine well. We can blame a genetic SNP called CYP1A2. If yours is slow then caffeine stays in your body longer. Like all SNP’s yours could be fast or slow. Some are balanced but can still be pushed to panic by the quad shot.
Even without testing I know mine is slow. I avoid coffee altogether but sure enjoy all the green teas plus dark chocolate. Green teas like matcha and mate have a good dose of anti-oxidants. They also balance out with l-theanine which is calming. Theobromine is found in dark chocolate which has fewer unwanted effects than caffeine. The positive psychoactive effects include improved mood and alertness.
Cellular Resistance Makes You Irritated
Feeling out of sync with the natural cycles of your body? Low blood pressure, irritable or pessimistic? Cellular resistance to hormones like cortisol and insulin characterize burn-out. Caffeine, adrenaline & sugar won’t fix it but we crave it. Remember you aren’t crazy, you are just tired in a deep, hormonal way.
PTSD or acute trauma can be the driving factor & the last few months have amped-up all kinds of triggers in this regard.
B vitamins (good quality ones), a gratitude practice & social support can help. Adjusting your responsibilities so they feel more manageable can shift perceived stress.
Add in fish oil, l-theanine & electrolytes to your routine. Try scheduling a full day in nature where you unplug to reset your body. But don’t check out completely because the world needs your voice and your work.
Responsive & Flexible
We are more rigid & less reasonable when the vigilant part of our brain kicks in. The hormonal cascade that is created steals our ability to be flexible or responsive to others. Having a practice that calms the nervous system means we can be more effective at communicating. Activism results in bigger change when we come at it with love.
The part of our brain that seeks threat takes over our hormones as well. This leads to many uncomfortable symptoms. What helps you find calm in the midst of a full life? Writing, walking and stretching are some of mine. The amygdala trips the wire to hypervigilence. We can be more resilient by taking 5-20 min/day. It makes a huge difference in well-being.
Hot Tip: Orgasm Helps
Orgasm, particularly female orgasm, is the best way to trip our bodies out of a high cortisol or hypervigilent stress response.
A PET scan shows the area of the brain that regulates fear, stress & anxiety goes completely dark in women. Male orgasm doesn’t produce the same result.
An early study on stress focused on fight & flight but more recent research shows women bring down stress through connection.
Women’s orgasms last longer & the calm that ensues allows a reset of the stress hormones. It also highlights the fact that women need to feel safe in order to enjoy themselves.