Are you always doing? Do you find yourself moving from one thing to the next with little white space just to sit and be? Are you eating while doing other things? Are you always worrying that you are not doing enough? Continually checking things off your to-do list and still not feeling satisfied? Does the idea of sitting still for 5-10 minutes irk you? If you can relate to these, it probably means you need to slow down. This comes from someone who LOVES her lists, google calendar and has to put her phone in another room in the morning so she won't immediately start her day answering emails. I get it. I have been there and am still there, but the way I approach things is different now.
I did the whole going a million miles an hour for a very long time. Working full time, trying to start my own business, moving around for the military, and still trying to have some semblance of a life. I was addicted to getting things done, doing it all, and being successful. We live in a very fast-paced world. A world that expects you to work through your lunch, go above and beyond at work for 8+ hours a day, workout, cook, clean, have cool hobbies, be a partner/mom/dad/aunt/uncle/daughter/son, etc. And do it all with a smile on your face. The world we live in isn't realistic, and it's not healthy. I have to remind clients of this and, honestly, even myself.
Are you addicted to stress?
I used to feel guilty every time I didn't work more than 8 hours a day, didn't start working before 9 am, took a break to eat lunch outside, or go for a walk, skipped a workout God forbid if I took a day off from everything. This is not healthy. It has created what I like to call a cortisol/stress addiction for many of the women I work with.
This lifestyle slows the healing process because it makes sure we are always in the sympathetic (fight or flight) state. We get addicted to being stressed out—everything from rushing through our meals to continue checking our phone to feeling like we need intense workouts. We are craving the cortisol. This is the most significant sign that you need to slow down. This is especially so if you're also dealing with period problems, irregular cycles, headaches/migraines, digestive distress, constipation, sleeping issues, etc. All of these symptoms are signs that your body is crying out for help.
Why do you feel worse before you feel better?
When you're addicted to stress and start to rest more, it's common to feel anxious, like you aren't doing enough, and even more tired. I've had many women start resting more, actually nourishing their bodies, and they often feel worse at first. Why does this happen? Because your body is transitioning from a sympathetic-stress dominant state to a slower, more relaxed state. The funny thing is stress slows our metabolism. So while you might feel like your body is working better with more cortisol (it's very anti-inflammatory and magical), you are slowing metabolic function down, which slows digestion and hormone production, and even detoxification. Over time, you start to develop hormone imbalances, thyroid issues and don't feel like yourself. It makes sense that when we slow down and have less cortisol, we suddenly don't feel right. The body is in a transition; luckily, it doesn't last forever.
Are you doing too much?
I want to leave you with a thought on healing and doing too much. Because you may very well have tried to reduce your stressors, get to bed early, avoid blue light, meditate, food prep nourishing meals, track your cycle, eat broccoli sprouts/carrots, take supplements, journal, get outside, etc. You could very likely be doing everything possible to heal your hormones and achieve healthy cycles.
So what's the problem with this? If you feel like you're doing everything but still not seeing progress, I'd ask yourself if you're doing too much. Just like we can become addicted to being stressed, getting it all done, etc. we can be working too hard at healing our hormones. If you feel stressed when you think about the healing process, you probably need to do less.
I think one of the best things you can do for healing is to do less. Simplify your life. Create more time to enjoy your life with those you love and stop obsessing over whether you did your meditation, took your supplements, worked out, etc. It's not that these things aren't helpful, they absolutely can be, but if you're stressed just thinking about what you "should" be doing, that's not going to help heal your hormones. Taking a step back and thinking about adding more fun and relaxation into your life can do wonders for your hormones.
For example, creating more time to enjoy your meals is a great place to start with this. Stress slows down our metabolism and has a significant impact on digestion. Want to break down and absorb your food better to optimize your metabolism and hormone health? Slow down at your meals. Take deep breaths while you're eating, avoid distractions, get outside if you can, and chew! It's incredible how much more enjoyable and satisfying food is when you do this and how beneficial this is for our metabolism and hormones. This is one small way you can start slowing things down to speed up the hormone healing process.
Remember, you're a human being, not a human doing. Always being on-the-go brings on added stress, which is not healthy. That added stress is increasing your cortisol levels and contributing to those sluggish feelings and symptoms of PMS. Slowing down and relaxing can reverse this by speeding up your metabolism. For more ways to take control of your hormone health, sign up for my Nutrition Strategies for Better Periods course.