Stress, Sleep, and Hugs. Totally sounds like a run through of a mom’s life. Constantly stressed. Forever wanting sleep. And smothered in hugs from sun up to sun down.
I have no magic cure for you today. However, maybe some helpful things to know to help manage all that stress, get better sleep, and boost your memory just a bit.
I have to be honest, being a woman is HARD. And this whole getting old thing is for the birds because we actually have to pay attention to everything we do. From the food we eat, to how much sleep we get, caffeine intake, exercise, hydration, and the list goes on. Our bodies are incredible machines, however they can also wreak havoc on us if we don’t take time to pay attention to some common warning signals. It’s seriously becoming a full-time job to be a woman!!!
Matters of the Heart
Heart Health Awareness Month recently wrapped up as women took the time through February to go RED for heart health.
Did you know that 1 in 3 women will die this year due to heart disease or stroke?? That rate is higher than ALL cancers combined. According to the American Heart Association more than 80% of these deaths can be prevented IF we take our time to learn the warning signals and improve our overall health.
Warning signals can vary from person to person and look and feel different in women compared to men. Women should be on the lookout for signs including sweating, pressure, nausea, and jaw pain. You might be thinking to yourself that these symptoms sound just like the flu – and you’re right. Take precaution. Make sure you’re getting in your regular doctor visits and staying on top of your family history.
Fitness and nutrition are also preventative measures to help lower your risk of heart disease. Getting in 150 minutes per week of cardiovascular exercise, and consuming a diet high in protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats is key.
It’s All in Your Head
The brain fascinates me. The female brain fascinates me more. Have you seen the meme of a woman’s brain as compared to having every browser on your desktop open? Seriously our brains NEVER stop. And days upon weeks upon months can add up to some not so healthy outcomes. There are three main hormones connected to our brains. And if any of these hormones are out of balance you’re going to be feeling perpetually tired.
Let’s talk about the stress hormone first. Cortisol is the stress hormone that gets shot into our bloodstream when we experience a shocking event or scare. Racing heart, sweaty palms, and fast breath are all signs your brain has released cortisol. However, if you are experiencing high volumes of stress, chances are your body is being depleted of cortisol making you feel constantly tired. And this goes beyond partying all night with your newborn or toddler. Need to repair that cortisol? Send the kids to grandma. HA! In all seriousness though, incorporating cardio and resistance training at a minimum of 3 days a week will help reduce the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream and help your body return to a more balanced state.
While we’re on the topic of needing more sleep, melatonin is the hormone that your body releases as the sun begins to set preparing our bodies for sleep. Spending too much time in artificial light, screen time after hours, or not sleeping in a pitch-black room can counteract melatonin. And remember that stress we seem to be under? Mistakenly suppressing melatonin (from that artificial light) lessens the body’s ability to fight stress as well as fight obesity, cancer, and diabetes. Need to boost that melatonin? It is suggested to sleep in a PITCH BLACK room, use a sleep mask, and significantly decrease exposure to artificial light into the evening hours. (This goes for kids as well as adults.)
And finally, oxytocin. Honestly, when I think of oxytocin I immediately think of labor, but that hormone supports so much more besides brining on labor. Oxytocin is the love hormone that is released in our body when we come in contact with another human. Oxytocin can help the above mentioned stress, lower blood pressure, and boost memory. You can increase your oxytocin by hugging, snuggling with a pet, or hopping in the sack with your partner.
If you focus on anything this month, *try* to lower those stress levels, sleep in a darker room, and hug every person you see. I’m off to go order some blackout shades on AmazonPrime.