You fall into bed exhausted but wired, praying for sleep.
Just this once.
You brain leaps about like a crazed monkey taunting you with your endless to-do list.
Even though you’re going flat out every waking hour, you’re never caught up.
During the few hours you manage to grab some sleep, you flip around restlessly and grind your teeth to dust.
You know your stress level is off the charts; some days you think it could be detected from outer space, like one of those volcanic eruptions.
As you scroll through your Facebook feed at 2am, a headline catches your eye: “Does stress cause hormone imbalance?” What the what, now? Great, something else to worry about.
You slide on by because sometimes ignorance really IS bliss.
But as you lay awake watching the numbers on your clock march on, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30, you’re haunted by the seemingly simple question, does stress cause hormone imbalance?
You heave a sigh, scroll back, and start reading.
Hormone Imbalance Is A Big, Hairy Deal
You vaguely knew endless stress, with its elevated cortisol levels, could be bad, but not that bad.
Like potentially life-threatening kind of bad.
High blood pressure, weight gain, heart disease. Decreased immune function. Mental illness. The list goes on. Thank you, WebMD for scaring the bejeebers out of me.
Not to mention, too much or too little of cortisol hormone can mess up all of your other hormones, too, making you lose your sex drive, miss your periods, giving you problems with your thyroid…. The list goes on and on.
Depression smothers you in a thick gray cloud. Depression? Yeah, that’s one of the symptoms of chronic stress too.
“I’m screwed,” you say aloud to the darkness.
Not so fast.
How To Relieve Stress To Balance Hormones
Though high levels of the stress hormone cortisol have already thrown many of your other crucial hormones out of whack, it’s not too late to slow down or even reverse the effects.
How can you relieve stress to balance hormones?
One of the simplest ways to start is by making healthier food choices.
I know what happens when you’re stressed out, barely sleeping, and the least little thing throws you into a tizzy. It’s what a lot of us do: you reach for an ooey gooey good snack.
This isn’t a judgement! It’s called comfort food for a reason.
So relax. You don’t have to change your entire diet all at once. You’d be setting yourself up for failure instead of success. Which would spike your stress higher.
Instead, start with something simple.
Next time you have a crazy long day and you’re dying to nosh on those chocolate chip cookies, take a deep breath. Recognize the urge. Even say out loud, “I want comfort.”
Sounds crazy, right? Like maybe you’re going to make it worse if you dare speak its name. But when you acknowledge your urge, it will lose its grip on you. You’ll be able to put the cookies back uneaten.
When you do this even once, give yourself a high five! This is a huge first step toward taking charge of your health. Soon you’ll be buying healthier food at the grocery store too.
Give Yourself A Natural High
When you put a snack away, replace eating with exercise. You don’t have to be Ms. Super Athlete. Go for a short walk. Pick up your youngster and carry them around. Put on music and dance in your living room.
When you exercise, your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body, especially in your brain. In fact, scientists have compared the feeling to that produced by morphine.
(Bonus, these endorphins will replace the manufactured ones that processed food has been engineered to provide to get you hooked.)
Endorphins also reduce your perception of pain, ward off anxiety, and help you sleep better.
What’s not to love?
Get your body moving and give yourself a natural high.
Quiet Your Mind
You can also add meditation to the mix.
All you need is a timer, a quiet place to sit, and yourself.
To begin, set the timer for 10 minutes. Sit with your hands in your lap or on your thighs. Take several long, slow, deep breaths.
Close your eyes and focus your attention on the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe.
When you notice your attention has strayed, gently bring it back like you would a beloved child who wandered off. Do this as often as you need to during those ten minutes.
When the timer goes off, sit for a moment more and take several more long slow deep breaths. Then smile.
Though simple, the combination of deep breathing, quieting your mind with meditation, and smiling disrupts the stress cycle in your body and produces endorphins – just like exercise does.
You see how all these practices reinforce each other. When you do them all, you increase their overall benefit.
Get Back Into Balance
Ongoing stress can ruin your health.
You may already be sitting among the ruins wondering what on earth happened.
It’s not fair.
You don’t have to live whacked out on stress, wondering when the next health disaster will strike.
You deserve to be in charge of your health.
Now that you’ve discovered these powerful exercises, you’ll put yourself in control.
You’ll lower your stress.
Calm your cortisol.
Energize your endorphins.
Today, make a promise to yourself to get yourself back into hormonal balance.
All you have to do is take the first step on the path to relieve stress to balance your hormones.
Once you do, you won’t look back.
Love and Health,
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