Updated: Aug 8
It's true that times have been stressful, with shutdowns, quarantine, etc. we're all feeling the stress! Stress is one of the most threatening factors to the state of our wellbeing. This state of unrest directly affects our hormones and mental health, but also greatly affects other primal functions.
Constant stress shuts down primary functions, including:
Reproduction and hormone balance
Rest and recovery
Each of these functions are essential for a healthy individual. One working insufficiently greatly impacts another, creating a domino effect that can take years to repair!
By addressing our stress we can support these primal functions and lead a healthier and happier life.
Types of Stress
Most of the stress we experience is "perceived stress"-the extent to which people feel the demands on them exceed their ability to cope. This stress, though not a threat like being chased by a wild animal, still takes a toll on your health.
How much of your stress is perceived? How much of it is out of your control?
There are three other types of stress, which include the following...
Lack of control
Loss of a loved one
These are lengthy lists that may or may not affect you on a daily basis, but ultimately affect hormone balance. Below is a list of a few ways stress disrupts our hormone balance and mood.
How Stress Disrupts Your Hormones:
Adrenal Strain-Constant stress causes your body to pump out more cortisol, more cortisol means a huge strain on your adrenal glands. Constant distress signals cause adrenal dysregulation or "burnout" that greatly impairs fertility and can cause mood swings, exhaustion, weight (loss or gain), emotional and mental strain, and more.
Effects Blood Sugar-An increase in cortisol affects your body's insulin levels and its ability to control and regulate blood sugar levels. This can increase testosterone, impairing or delaying ovulation or it can increase estrogen levels which can cause PMS symptoms, cysts, and fibroids.
Decreases Progesterone-When cortisol demands get high, progesterone levels suffer as cortisol can "steal" progesterone levels leading to increased PMS symptoms, an irregular cycle, and impaired fertility.
Increases PMS-Lower progesterone levels often lead to higher estrogen levels or estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance can cause painful periods, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, and cysts.
Skipped Periods-Stress greatly affects ovulation, delayed ovulation can cause late or even skipped periods. This can lead to much greater health issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, infertility and cysts.
Changes Cycle Timing-While stress doesn't always cause a loss of ovulation or your period altogether, it can cause the timing of these phases to be "off" whether it be too late or too early. This can be a problem for those who are trying to conceive or cycle-sync their diet and exercise.
Thankfully there are methods we can use to combat all forms of stress in our lives and prevent hormonal distress. My ways of destressing may greatly differ from yours, but there are a few methods I think we can all benefit from..
Stress Relieving Methods That Support Your Hormones:
Going on a "news and social media fast"
Taking adaptogens such as Holy Basil or Ashwagandha *(I always suggest talking to your doctor about new supplements, especially if you are breastfeeding, pregnant or on medication.)
Increase your magnesium
Connecting with positive people
Spending time doing hobbies you love
If you have a hard time coping with stress, I highly recommend adding these stress-relieving methods to your daily life. Make note of how you feel mentally, emotionally and even physically, then edit your routine accordingly.
While most things in life are out of our control, our reaction is not! You and I have the power to be positive regardless of what goes on around us. This power of choice creates a ripple effect in the lives of those around us, leading to more people being able to manage the stressors in their lives. Are you creating a positive impact in the lives of others by managing your stress? Are you a source of stress to others?
Ask yourself these hard questions...being honest with yourself is the first step to making positive change and leading a healthier life!
I hope this post encourages you to take steps to manage your stress and create a positive attitude, despite what's happening around you...your hormones and quality of life will be better for it.
Already putting these stress-relieving methods into practice?
I would love to hear how they've helped lower your stress levels in the comments below!