Okay mamas, let’s talk about stress.
Chances are if you’ve gone to the doctor to talk about “stress-type symptoms” that are bothering you…
Mood swings and PMS
Then you may have been told - “well it’s just stress”. Which is entirely unhelp! We know we’re stressed!
How I talk about this with my clients is by helping them understand what stress is, how it impacts their body and what the different kinds of stress are.
Here’s the scoop.
Stress is an emotional state and it’s a series of physical events that happen in your body, called the stress response.
A stress response happens when something threatens your sense of security or safety - whether it’s consciously or unconsciously or biologically.
We can think about them as external stressors and internal stressors.
EXTERNAL stressors are things outside of our body.
…when you’re husband texts you about a last minute work trip (hello increased workload)
…when you hear your preschooler start coughing (there goes the next week of childcare)
…when your furnace breaks and you need to come up with mula to replace it ($$)
<<This is external stress.>>
But there are also INTERNAL stressors which are inside our body.
…when your blood sugar dips at 3pm - this triggers a stress response
…when you don't get enough sleep, your cortisol goes wild
…if you exercise harder or longer than your body can handle - your stress hormones get activated
<<This is internal stress>>
There's lots more, but you get the idea.
Stress isn't just "in your head." It's in your body.
And this tends to create a cycle that’s hard to get out of because:
…You burn through more nutrients when you're "stressed out" (magnesium, and b vitamins, I'm looking at you)
…Running on high cortisol can cause insulin resistance (which can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midsection)
…Stress changes how our gut functions including the gut microbiome and the speed of digestion, and can contribute to gut infections like H. Pylori and SIBO.
…And cortisol issues will have a widespread impact on basically all of your hormones and neurotransmitters, from progesterone to thyroid to serotonin to insulin.
So…that’s all stuff you don’t want to happen.
It's the “what-to-do-about it” that's the tricky part.
I won’t sugar coat this - there is no silver bullet! I wish you could just go mediate, take an adaptogen herb or have a nap and all your problems will be solved.
But alas it’s more complicated than that.
So aside from eating a nice balanced diet that keeps your blood sugar stable, replenishes your nutrients, sleeping enough, and exercising to meet your body where it's at (all pivotal foundational elements of my Balanced Mom Method program) - how can we reduce the stress load?
My favorite stress reducer is not an herbal adaptogen or a supplement, though those have their place.
My favorite stress reducing activity is doing less. Taking stuff off your plate. Saying no. Outsourcing tasks (to your partner, colleague, paid help, even your kids). And taking breaks.
We're not supermoms. We're regular people with regular needs.
And when we do too much, we do it at the expense of our health.
To make room for “self care” we need to reduce our workload so that we can fit this in - not add it to our overwhelming “to do list”.
So what's one thing you can let go of today and this week?
Amy Your dietitian doula