Manage stress to help manage your hormones
When you think of nutritional therapy, you often think of eating different foods and maybe taking supplements. But working on lifestyle factors, particularly managing stress, is the third key component of any health management plan.
When I first started using nutritional therapy, I was really dedicated with taking my supplements and making changes to my diet – but I did nothing to change my lifestyle or reduce my stress levels. I still saw an improvement in my symptoms and my endometriosis became easier to manage, but eventually my improvement seemed to plateau. It was only when I added in some lifestyle changes that my symptoms improved again. Even now I’m not perfect at managing stress levels and sometimes if I’m busy that’s the thing that gets left out. But I know that if I lapse for too long, I can get a flare-up.
So, if you’ve made changes to your diet and tried taking supplements but are still struggling with endometriosis pain, PMS, perimenopausal symptoms or gut health then maybe it’s time to look at lifestyle factors.
Here’s why lifestyle factors like stress management, sleep and exercise can make a difference:
Probably the number one thing to focus on. When stressed we pump out cortisol our stress hormone. The raw materials needed to produce cortisol are the same as those needed to produce progesterone, one of our main sex hormones. So when we are in a chronic state of stress our progesterone level becomes low and our hormones go out of balance. This leaves us with more oestrogen around contributing to conditions like endometriosis, PMS, perimenopausal symptoms and hormonal migraines.
Stress also increases levels of inflammation in the body so is problematic for conditions like endometriosis which are inflammatory in nature and the level of inflammation can cause pain. Hence why if we are stressed, we can get a flare up of endometriosis symptoms.
There are plenty of things we can do to help reduce the impact of stress on our bodies, from the foods we eat, to lifestyle factors like relaxation to lower stress levels, to supplements that can replace some of the nutrients that are lost with stress.
Getting a good nights sleep is essential to giving you the energy to get through the day. Sleep also reduces inflammation in the body and supports your immune system – both key for conditions like endometriosis. Sleep also has an impact on some of the hormones in the body.
Sleep can be challenging for conditions like endometriosis where pain prevents you from sleeping. It can also be difficult during the perimenopause period when hot flushes and fluctuations in hormone levels can effect sleep.
Routine is a key part of getting sleep back on track, along with good sleep hygiene practices. Certain foods and supplements can also support the sleep process if you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
Exercise helps support our mood by releasing endorphins our feel good hormones. It can also support our immune system and reduce stress levels. Often starting slow with a 5 minute walk and building up gradually can be a good way to get back into doing some exercise if you are feeling tired.
I get how hard it can be to focus on lifestyle factors when you are busy, tired, stressed and feeling unwell. That’s why in one to one sessions we can help find a plan that works for you and that fits into your lifestyle and I can support you to stay on track with it. Book in for a free hormone health review to find out more.
So if you are looking for that extra thing to help you get your hormones back in balance, then build some stress management into your routine.