07 Jan CHEERS TO LESS STRESS!
Happy New Year! Although we had a great holiday, I’m ready to get back into a routine! The holidays are wonderful but they can also get a bit stressful with all the running around trying to get the right gifts and traveling to different holiday parties. Because of the holiday stress I wanted to base my blog topic this month on stress hormones. There are two very common hormone imbalances for women, which are commonly brought on by stress. We are going to touch on one of those hormones, in this blog post, which is called Cortisol.
What is cortisol and what is it used for? This hormone helps control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, helps reduce inflammation, and assist with memory function. In addition, it has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. There are two types of Cortisol hormone imbalances, which are low cortisol and high cortisol.
Symptoms of High Cortisol levels include:
- The feeling of being “tired and wired”
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Increased belly fat
- Sugar cravings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and nervousness
- High blood pressure
- Decreased fertility
Symptoms of Low Cortisol levels include:
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Feeling unrested, even after a good night’s sleep
- Difficulty waking up
- Low blood pressure
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Depression or feelings of inability to cope
Do any of these symptoms sound like you? One out of eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime. Cortisol Imbalances are one of the most common issues in women and are mainly brought on by stress. Although it’s not only stress that affects your cortisol levels, it can also be disrupted by diet and things in the environment. Some of the most common foods that disrupt your hormones are Wheat, Dairy, Sugar, Corn, and Soy. In addition, many household cleaning products and things used for outdoors (example: grass fertilizers), have a lot of chemicals that may cause hormonal issues (Please see me, if you would like a list of natural recommended brands). It is important to get and keep your cortisol levels in balance, so it doesn’t cause further issues, like Adrenal Gland Stress (which I will be discussing in a later blog post). Here are a few tips for balancing cortisol levels.
- Workout a minimum of 3 days per week for 30-60 minutes per workout. If your cortisol levels are high I recommend that you do more cardiovascular (interval training is great) to help lower your levels at least three times per week with some weight training and Yoga. If your levels are low you are going to want to stick with less intense workouts, ( so it doesn’t put more stress on your body and deplete your adrenal glands), so maybe focus on walking, light weights, and Yoga.
2. Take 20 minutes or longer (if possible with your lifestyle), to yourself every day. This time needs to be in a quiet space with no interruptions. You can choose to just sit quietly, meditate, write in your journal, read a favorite book or maybe even give yourself a facial.
3. Take a hot bath in the evening after a long or stressful day. Add some eucalyptus and lavender oil with some Epsom salt to your bath for relaxation and sore muscles. Maybe light a candle, dim the lights and play your favorite relaxing music.
4. Do an elimination diet or cleanse to help detox the bad foods out to see if that is affecting your hormones. For more information on either of these please feel free to set up a complimentary consultation with me at the gym.
5. Cut the caffeine. I know, crazy right? How are we going to make it through the day with our daily Java? When your experiencing issues with your cortisol levels, caffeine can intensify and make them worse. There are other options for more natural energy enhancements when you’re going through the process to try and balance your hormone levels. Please feel free to ask me if you need any suggestions.
I know from experience how busy and stressful daily life can be as a busy mom, wife, business owner, daughter, and friend. But it is so important to stop to rest and reset so we can be the best version of ourselves.
Until Next Time,
Shawn Mielke- IIN Holistic Health, Hormone and Life Coach