It took everything I had not to scream the fourth time I was woken up last night.
They say sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, and I believe it whole heartedly. With a child who struggles with anxiety that manifests as insomnia, my life often feels like a blur of disrupted nights of sleep. Although I didn’t scream, I wasn’t my best self, and I knew that that the mom guilt from this would be what kept me awake the rest of the night…and likely what hung around at the edge of my brain throughout the rest of my brain foggy day. These nights took everything out of me. My energy. My focus. My confidence.
The truth I know well, is that I am not one in a million who is up half of the night for one reason or another. I am one OF a million…and if I have learned anything in the 10 years I have worked/trained/coached women in the health and fitness industry, night wakings, full days, endless to-do lists, the emotional labour and admin of life along with this deep sense of juggling all the balls and doing none of it well – all while my career aspirations keep sliding to the back burner – is it’s OWN pandemic amongst women in the 35-55 age range.
2020 has officially marked our generation of women as standing at the forefront of the most stressed out women. We have the most amount of equality in career and the least amount of support in the emotional labour part of life. Simultaneously being the MOST exposed to endocrine disrupters through chemicals, toxins and artificial ingredients in our food and beauty products than EVER before AND we have more social pressure than ever before with social media to be our skinniest, fittest, wrinkle-est free selves.
YES our mothers and grandmothers dealt with this, but not to the extreme that we do…and the cherry on top is a COVID-19 pandemic that has us worried and homeschooling and anxious.
What no ONE is talking about though is the impact of the STRESS that is building up in our peri-menopausal bodies.
Multiple times a day I hear from women over 35 who are struggling with consistent brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, forgetfulness, stubborn belly fat, bloating PMS that seems to last longer and longer each month…and of course, unpredictable and unusual periods. When you are over 35, you immediately start to recall all of the media you have been exposed to in life and think “I am old and getting older….this is just what it is, menopause.” But this is a vastly incorrect message.
THESE symptoms, are symptoms of a stressed out body…and they can be much improved. Every single one of them, is your body’s way of screaming at you to get your attention. Your adrenals are taxed, your organs of elimination are congested, your blood sugar is all over the map and so your delicate hormones are – quite literally – making you feel like a HOT MESS.
Here is what I KNOW…if you do NOT begin UN-stressing this mess NOW….it doesn’t go away….it ONLY get’s worse…and then harder to fix.
So what is an overwhelmed mom to do? You already have 42,000 things going on, you cannot POSSIBLY take on MORE?
You are right, you CANNOT.
But you CAN start to do LESS.
We have 4 key health pillars that – when balanced and solid at a basic level – create a low stress foundation in your body…and here they are. Start by picking your weakest pillar and work to make it stable before moving on to the next pillar.
REST – The average human needs 7-9 hours of sleep.
If you are NOT getting a minimum of 7 hours of rest, you are unable to give your body the rest and recovery time it needs to rejuvenate and heal. You should NOT be pushing your body to do a hard workout. It only stresses it out more. Use that time for restorative yoga, yoga nidra or hey, maybe even a nap!
MOVEMENT – 30 minutes to move.
We have been told time and again the benefits of moving our bodies. Benefits like cardiovascular health, lower depression rates, boosted dopamine and serotonin levels. Prioritizing a walk, or even a dance off in your kitchen, taking the stairs can make a HUGE difference in lowering the stress levels of the body and helping your body metabolize excess hormones and toxins. If you NEED the rush of a harder workout, make sure that you are doing those in your follicular and ovulation phases of your menstrual cycle and scaling back to yoga and pilates in your luteal and menstrual phases so you do not stress your body out further when it is already VERY busy.
NUTRITION – Work towards everything you put IN and ON your body is 80% CLEAN.
Let me be clear here because I use to be very confused by this idea of clean eating. “CLEAN” does not mean free from sugar and fried foods. “CLEAN” means free from environmental toxins, artificial ingredients, preservatives, chemicals…basically anything that is going to disrupt your hormones and endocrine system and add more stress to your liver and other organs of elimination. This can be a tall order….but pack a BIG punch. So here are my beginner tips: Make the shift from conventional food to organic as much as possible and simply start by looking at the ingredients in your food. If you don’t know what something is, just give it a quick google and decide if it is something that should be hanging out inside your body long term.
MINDSET – A little joy, goes a long way.
This is quite possibly the most important pillar. Negativity is the greatest disease of the mind and yet it is our natural instinct to lean negative for self preservation. We have to work every day on the practice positivity in our life and we do that with joy. Every time I speak with a client who is struggling in a stressed out body, I always ask them what they are doing each day JUST for their own joy…and almost 100% of the time I am met with…”I. Don’t. Know.” JOY is the practice and the basis for a strong mindset pillar. Rock out to your fav song in you mini van, laugh until you cry watching stand up comedy on Netflix, or curl up and re-read Twilight for the 3rd time. It doesn’t matter WHAT you find to bring you joy each day, ONLY that you do.
Do a little less. Move a little less intensely. Consume a few less toxic ingredients. Unleash the JOY.
A low stress body creates space for the body to do what it naturally will. Let go of excess weight, repair aging skin, sleep more deeply, think more clearly, laugh more regularly, have more time for the things and people we want in life…and that what we are wanting more of?