Do you race through your day desperately trying to get through your endless ‘To Do’ list, only end up completely exhausted, wired and tired? If the answer is yes, you are not alone as this is the story of so many women, including myself!
Many years ago I worked in a fast-paced and stressful field. I used to literally consider myself so busy, that I ate lunch at my desk, I held off going to the bathroom because I had to finish my emails and I used to work so fast that sometimes I would literally forget to breathe and go into an anxiety attack.
Outside of work, I would keep my days filled with endless ‘To Do’ lists that were never-ending and I was always so focused on ‘doing’ and ‘achieving’, that I never stopped to listen to the subtle symptoms my body was trying to communicate to me in the form of stubborn weight, fatigue, disrupted sleep, constant colds, flus and allergies, bloating, anxiety, mood swings, headaches and much more.
I was always so busy trying to get to the finish line and achieve so much during my days that I put myself and my health last which ultimately led to my undoing – in 2011 I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
You see stress is a silent killer and for women in today’s world, you can feel the need to be superwoman, placing high expectations on yourself to do so much that you easily forget the toll it takes on your health and quality of life!
There is one key body system that is prevalent in how stressed out, wired and tired you can get and that is your automatic nervous system (ANS). Your ANS consists of your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Your SNS is your fight or flight response, while your PNS is your rest, digest and repair response.
Stress can be physical, mental or emotional and when you are under stress, your sympathetic nervous system is activated, raising your heart rate, releasing cortisol (long term stress coping hormone) into your blood stream and directing blood away from your digestive tract so your body is unable to rest, digest and repair.
When cortisol is pumping through your system as a result of your body perceiving danger, sugar is dumped into your blood and insulin (primary fat storage hormone) is then released into the blood stream to deal with the blood sugar spike.
That is why it is so super important to make a conscious effort to activate your PNS, which allows you to rest, digest and repair!
Here are 5 simple ways you can start slowing down and relax into your day:
1. Learn to say “NO” and stop people pleasing! This might mean having to put yourself first at times. If you are not healthy or happy, it is very hard to give your full energy to others.
2. Eliminate or cut down on foods that stimulate your sympathetic nervous system and cause physical stress on your body such as; caffeine, sugar, white processed carbohydrates and alcohol.
3. Meditate daily or do some deep belly breathing. This is one of the best ways to quickly activate your parasympathetic nervous system and bring you back into the present moment, which is where the magic happens!
4. Sleep early by getting to bed before 10pm.
5. Start to observe the negative thoughts that consume you and focus on changing these to more positive thoughts instead. Stress is perception of a situation and it is up to you to determine how you perceive each situation. Take a minute to think of what is really important to you in life and it can help you gain some perception of certain situations.