It’s really normal for us to experience stress in our daily lives. Did you know the subtle and not-so-subtle fluctuations of stress affects menstruation?
The monthly ovarian cycle is driven by a well-tuned, tightly run system by the hypothalamus. It receives input from many different parts of one’s body and from the environment surrounding the body. This gland tells the body how to respond to all the subtle stimuli with the goal of keeping the endocrine system stable, safe and healthy. If there is a perception that a woman is not physically or emotionally capable to sustain a pregnancy and care for a dependent child, the hypothalamus will shutdown the ovulation cycle. When you are stressed, your hypothalamus will get a signal that cortisol is high, and your sex hormones will decrease so then you can survive rather than reproduce.
Many women notice changes in their menstrual cycles when they encounter a difficult time, stressful work deadlines, strenuous exercise regiment, or excessive weight loss. Our hormones can be affected by watching a scary movie. That’s how sensitive we are! Our ovaries respond to stressors encountered in our lives. This is when you can see an alteration in your menstrual cycle. It can be erratic, heavy or light, shorten or lengthen or you can stop bleeding. Luckily, when the stress is removed, we can return to normal ovulatory function and our health returns to baseline.
1. Say No!
Many of us are blessed with having a positive outlook with a passion to be involved with activities or to help someone out. Other times, the perfectionist in us comes out and we feel obligated to do and be everything in order to succeed and get some external approval. By saying no, we only feel focus on the priorities and activities that are most meaningful to us and make us happy.
2. Laugh with your best girlfriends
Sharing laughter with friends you feel closes with will reduce your production of cortisol and increase dopamine, serotonin and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
3. Dance Breaks!
I love this tool! I use it a lot – from waking up and moving my body to some good tunes or going to the bathroom to dance before a meeting. Dancing makes everyone feel good! And you can really do it anywhere. My friends nickname my car: the dance house.
4. Deep Breathing
Feeling centered in yourself can immediately shift your focus, oxygenate your blood and reduce tension. Try to let go of any force or trying to deep breath the right way. There is no right way. Be aware of how you are breathing and then notice subtle changes throughout and after.
a) Breath in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air. Imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Allow yourself to feel it throughout your body.
b) Breath out through your nose. Feel your belly lower. Imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.
5. Send yourself flowers
Humans are comforted by vegetation. Keep a plant at your work desk and flowers around your home. A research study at Harvard University, delivered candles to one group of women and flowers to another group of women. The scientists found that the women with flowers had less anxiety and depression.
6. Desk Nap
Take a refreshing nap at your desk. After doing this, you will feel rejuvenated!
a) Keep both feet on the floor with your forearms stacked on the edge of the table
b) Extend your spine by scooting back in your chair
c) Rest your forehead on your arms
d) Deeply breath and/or focus on your heartbeat.
e) Visualize your tasks going well
f) Mentally repeat “Victory!”
7. Sunlight Exposure
Stress can trigger an offset in the circadian rhythm. Exposing the retina to sunlight can reset your rhythm so your brain is back on schedule. Take a walk outside without sunglasses for twenty minutes a day, three times a week.
8. Walk in Nature Barefooted
Research has shown that electrons form the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and calm your nervous system. Further, the earth’s surface maintains a negative electrical potential. When you are barefoot, in direct contact, with the ground the earth’s electrons bring you to the same electrical potential. You will leave feeling grounded and relaxed.