February After Glow
STRESS: In my previous TIP, I mentioned how lack of sleep can produce the stress hormone CORTISOL. This nasty little devil is stresses version of the big old chocolate cake. Here’s how it works in your system:
Cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream in higher levels as the body’s response to stress. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
- A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
- Heightened memory functions
- A burst of increased immunity
- Lower sensitivity to pain
Cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress but it is also important that the body return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal.
I know so many mom’s (and I am guilty of it myself), who live and operate from a place of high stress and anxiety. With such demands as a mother to do and be everything to everyone…perfectly, it’s no wonder women are suffering from chronic stress at higher rates than men. You can feel it in your breathing, shallow and from the upper part of your chest. Most of the time we don’t even notice it, but it takes it’s toll and can show itself in many different ways. I believe there is such a strong connection between mind and body. Stress can show itself in illness, weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression and so much more. Next time you are doing errands or racing to pick up your kids at school, check in with your breathing and see if you are operating at a heightened level of stress.
Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
- Decreased bone density
- Decrease in muscle tissue
- Higher blood pressure
- Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
- Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of , higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!
Relaxation and meditation are a great way to de-stress, and it only takes minutes a day. One of my favorite restorative poses in Yoga is called “Legs up the wall”. But you can do this with your legs on the coffee table, or up on an ottoman. Lying flat on your back, place your bum up against the wall or up against the side of an ottoman, rest your legs either straight up the wall, or on top of the ottoman. Extend your arms straight out beside you, close your eyes and just breathe. Nice long inhales and exhales. Getting deep into the lower belly. For 2 minutes or 10 minutes… The beauty of this pose is that you can do it right in the middle of the living room with your baby or kids beside you, watching t.v or playing a game, or even crawling all over you! I guarantee you will feel restored and relaxed after this pose.
A few other things I do when I find myself stressed or anxious are:
- listening to relaxing music
- be like a kid again, run, skip, hop, sing, laugh
Once again, who knew a few deeps breaths could help in tightening your core!!
A favorite quote of mine from famous chef and book author Nigella Lawson (from Nigella Bites) once said of career, motherhood, and a social life:
“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.”
Stay tuned for Tip 3#…Now, relax your jaw, relax your shoulders and take a deep breath! Ahhhhhhh.