Mothers are the ultimate multi-taskers: they manage their kids' school requirements, doctor's appointments, birthday parties, music and dance lessons and sports - while managing household needs and working full-time in or out of the home (or both!).
Often mothers bear the heaviest load when it comes to childcare, home care, and the care of aging parents. Many moms struggle to juggle the demands of being wife, mother, sister, friend, employee, manager, or owner. These can be stressful roles to manage all at once! How can you support yourself, or a mother you know and love, to manage stress and maintain energy and equanimity? First, we'll discuss the role of hormones in stress.
Stress and Your Hormones
Adrenaline and cortisol are the two hormones that regulate the sympathetic nervous system and influence mood, energy, sleep, and mental functioning. The amount of each hormone the adrenal glands produce directly corresponds to the amount of stress you experience.
Chronic stress, defined as "stress that lasts for more than three months," can upset your hormone balance at any age. Examples include daily time-management issues (having too much to do and not enough time!); juggling work and family issues; being laid off or looking for work; financial troubles; loss of a parent or child; divorce or separation; difficulty with teenagers, or caring for children with physical or mental challenges; caregiving for aging parents; and many more.
Your Hormone Levels on Stress
How does stress impact hormone levels? When your brain perceives a threat -- anything from seeing your toddler reach for a hot pan, or sensing the car in front of you swerve suddenly - your adrenal glands pump out adrenaline.
Adrenaline, often called the "fight-or-flight" hormone, quickly signals your stored fat cells to release energy for dealing with the threat. The energy rush is intended to stimulate the body to run away or face the danger, and the adrenaline rush is supposed to recede when the stressful or threatening event is over. However, when the body experiences chronic stress, this healthy process does not work as intended.
Instead of pumping out more adrenaline, chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. Initially, cortisol levels are elevated, but if stress is ongoing, the adrenal glands become exhausted over time, so that they are unable to produce even normal amounts of cortisol. When cortisol levels remain too high or too low for an extended period of time, the disequilibrium wreaks havoc on the body, creating a condition called "adrenal fatigue."
How to Fight Adrenal Fatigue
Out-of-normal-range cortisol levels destroy healthy muscle and bone, slow down healing and normal cell regeneration, impair digestion, cause abdominal weight gain, lead to insulin resistance, dull mental processes, interfere with healthy endocrine function, and weaken your immune system. So what can you do?
(1) You CAN Reverse Stress-Related Hormone Imbalance
With the targeted use of pharmaceutical-grade supplements and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), you can turn back the clock on the physical damage of stress. We all know that "stress kills," so making stress management medicine and self-care a priority is vital: it can literally protect you from illness and help you live a longer and healthier life!
(2) You Can Prevent Future Stress from Wreaking Havoc on Your Health
By consistently caring for your body with healthy whole foods, regular exercise, steady hormone health, and an attitude of gratitude, you will be able to manage stress more easily. Nothing can prevent stress; however, you have the power to weaken or eliminate the impact of stress on your body and your life.
(3) Not all Stress is Bad
Recent research shows that our perception of stress plays a role in exacerbating its impacts. Therefore, one of your stress management techniques should be to change your outlook when stress inevitably arises in your life. It can be helpful to see your body's stress response as a "partner" in helping you meet your challenges.
Help is Available
If you are a current patient struggling with chronic stress, please make an appointment to talk with your clinician. Adrenal fatigue can be reversed with BHRT and targeted pharmaceutical-grade supplements!
If you have a loved one who is struggling with stress but has no local hormone experts to rely on, consider recommending our Personal Hormone Tele-Consultations, which include testing for cortisol and other hormones that are affected by chronically high or low cortisol - as well as a phone consultation with one of our experienced clinicians. Our Natural Balance Progesterone Cream is also a great over-the-counter BHRT treatment that can help reduce stress.
Treat Yourself to Healthy Hormones!
We wish you all a Happy Mother's Day!