My social media feed is filled with stories of women who went from being high stress, stuck in masculine energy, constantly on the go, pushing themselves to the limit, to experiencing burnout, hormone issues, gut issues... you name it.
The realization all these creators came to through these various experiences (and unique video edits that leave me wondering, how did you do that?) is that the body isn't meant to be in this chronic state of stress.
The human body is immensely wise. It will tell you when something isn't working. It will let you know when it doesn't like something. This communication happens through feelings, such as, symptoms, cravings, energy.
The problem: if you were brought up like I was, here in America, you weren't taught about this language. Instead the narrative around the body is often something like, "here, take this pill to minimize that symptom, but also add on additional symptoms that you didn't have before, then go take another pill for those symptoms..." and on and on it goes.
Don't get me wrong, modern medicine is incredible. If I'm faced with a life threatening emergency, I'm tremendously grateful for it. However, when it comes to chronic illness, there can be some gaps in the advancements.
Also, side note- did you know that many pharmaceuticals were created based on the components of herbs that provide benefits. The pharmaceuticals are different in that they are way more potent, and don't have some of the more protective features the plant provides.
Here in America, there are also societal standards around work, productivity, and what it means to be successful. Pressure, pressure, pressure.
The human body was not evolved and created to look at a blue light all day, inside, with constant notifications, working, with minimal rest. And it certainly was not meant to eat foods that are highly processed with lab created ingredients and chemicals.
All of these things are impacting your body on a deep level. Creating an internal stress by constantly activating the nervous system and getting you into a high stress response (aka fight or flight).
Then, you add the workout program that isn't in balance with your already high stress levels, on top of being in a certain stage in your menstrual cycle where it's actually ideal to tone down the intensity, and that cup of coffee or energy drink to help you power through it, followed up by lack of food, a little bit of alcohol, and more notifications on your phone from social media...
It adds up.
Your body is trying to keep up with all the stress, causing the adrenals to work extra hard at pumping out stress hormones. The adrenals are important glands that not only provide stress hormones, but help with production of sex hormones, and maintaining mineral balance.
Because they get so busy pumping out stress hormones, the other functions get put to the wayside. Periods may get worse, cravings for salt may increase, and things with the thyroid might start to get a little messy.
But, wait, it can get messier.
The adrenals and thyroid have this special kind of connection. The more the body is being told to pump out stress hormone, the more other systems/ functions will begin to be impacted.
That's because your pituitary gland, the gland responsible for signaling the other endocrine glands to "do their thing," will prioritize the stress over anything else. Think about it- your body thinks it's running from a lion, why would it care about reproduction, digesting food, or really anything else aside from getting you to safety.
So, the thyroid begins to be impacted, as well as the gut (more on this in another block), the immune system, brain function... literally every system.
The potential results related to hormones:
Period issues- ranging from heavy and painful cycles, to absence of cycles
Unexpected weight gain or weight loss
Inability to sleep
Constipation (this can be an impact from the gut or low thyroid function)
Body composition shift from muscle to more fat accumulation
Acne, oily skin
Loss of lateral third of eyebrow from low thyroid function
Trouble with fertility and lack of ovulation
Elevated muscle soreness
The cycle can persist if left "as is," which, can unfortunately happen with many women due to lack of testing (or not getting full testing done, even when asked).
Soooo... what the heck do we do about it!?
The first step I would give my clients is to take a breath, and connect with yourself. Bring awareness to what is going on in your life. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day to day that we don't even realize where all this stress is coming from, or that our body is giving us warning signs.
Take an inventory of your stress- write out all the stressors you have going on right now (big or small). From there, you can try to find opportunity to remove, minimize, or defer that stress. Example: maybe you can push that one meeting to next week when it's optimal during your cycle, and things are a little less busy. Maybe you can ask for help with something so it doesn't feel so daunting. Or, maybe you can see that some of these things are temporary and make sure to allocate the time to rest and recover when it's done.
Use your schedule to work FOR you- all of my clients are highly driven and motivated. They also tend to live by their schedule. So, let's use it to help you out! Carve out some white space for you to simply be. Add in some time for you to go take a little walk. Put YOU back into YOUR schedule.
Adding practices like meditation, time out in nature, and breathwork can be potent supporters to your nervous system. Time and time again, there have been studies that show how impactful these 3 tools can be at supporting the body, increasing creativity, and providing us with overall support. Don't let expectation of what you think it should all look like, get in the way of you starting these. Meditation can be 1 minute, breathwork can be 30 seconds, time in nature can be stepping out in the sun.
Having support for the mental health side of your healing is also going to be tremendously impactful. The body remembers. Trauma (whether a large event, or something small), can be stored in your body to help you as a safety mechanism. If left unaddressed, you could be experiencing triggers that are re-opening up that trauma day to day without realizing it. Adding to more stress on the body. I always suggest my clients have a team to help you in all areas of your health and overall wellness.
There are supplements, like adaptogens, that I do often suggest to clients who are looking to support their nervous system and improve hormonal health. Adaptogens are herbs like reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, tulsi, and cordyceps mushroom (to name a few). While these are all incredible, supportive herbs that I love adding into my own personal routine, it's important to remember that taking a supplement can only go so far. To find true healing we need to dig deeper, make some uncomfortable changes, and provide our body with what it's asking for. A supplement won't magically "fix" everything.
If you're looking to support your hormones on a deep level, by addressing more of the "root", and gaining the tools for healing- be sure to check out Feminine Vitality. This is my self paced course dedicated to hormones and all things women's health! You'll walk away with a whole new understanding of your body, clarity with how to best support your hormones & improve your periods, and a community of women in the private FB group (where you'll also find additional trainings to help support you!)
Have any questions? Be sure to leave them in the comments! Next time we're talking all about the nervous system and the role it plays in gut health! Stay tuned!!
Rooting for you, ALWAYS.