“Health, and the pursuit of a healthy body is about balance, and recognizing what works best for you and your needs. Some days will be better than others, and that’s perfectly OK.”Noelle Tarr
2018 just may have been the most stressful year of my life to-date . . . and I didn’t handle it well. Instead of practicing what I preach by managing my stress in a healthy way and caring for myself before others, I put myself dead-last.
The result was an elevated estrogen level, which wreaked havoc on my body, my mind and my spirit.
Hormonal imbalance is a real issue, affecting 47% of American women between the ages of 30 and 60 – and it’s okay to talk about it and find solutions together.
For well over a year now, a member of my household has been hospitalized. That’s not my story to tell. But, the way it has affected my own health is my story to tell.
The first six months or so, my husband, his mom and I all spent as much time as humanly possible at the hospital, visiting and waiting for information from the doctors and nursing staff. I was there before work, on my lunch break, and for a few hours after work, too. Weekends were typically 10-12 hour days spent at the hospital.
This meant that most of our meals were coming from the hospital cafeteria or restaurant takeout. My family also contributed quite a few dinners for all of us, which was so extremely kind and generous.
It also meant taking a step back from self-care. There was basically only time to eat, sleep, work and wait. Exercise wasn’t happening, I began to fall behind on my journal, and I took step back from my work on this website. Really, I wasn’t getting enough sleep either.
Shocking as this might be, after about six months of that lifestyle, it began to take a toll on my body and my emotional wellbeing.
The first symptom I noticed was an inability to manage my emotions. Despite regular counseling, everything made me cry.
We’re talking waterworks over someone looking at me funny . . . emotional responses that were becoming disruptive to my life.
Next, I realized that my cycle had became even more irregular than it always had been. Looking over my tracking, it had ranged from about 9 days to 38 days and all over in between.
A Great Team
I didn’t put these two symptoms together until a session with my counselor when I was letting her know about the extreme emotions I’d been dealing with. She actually recommended that I visit my naturopathic doctor for a hormonal evaluation, which made perfect sense when I stepped back to look at the full picture.
So, I went to see the doctor, and she sent me immediately for bloodwork. We learned that I was estrogen-dominant, the likely culprit for my irregularity and my over-the-top emotions. She put me on an Indoplex protocol, which is a natural supplement that has the ability to lower estrogen levels (If you suspect you may be having issues with estrogen dominance, it is important to work with your doctor before taking anything for it).
More importantly, she gave me strict instructions to make lowering my stress levels an absolute priority in my life. Her first recommendation was to drop my hospital visits to once per month (by this point I was only going on weekends and in the evenings, but the hospital was now an hour away, so a one-hour visit took up three hours of my time after work).
She also recommended getting back to journaling, walking daily for mild exercise, and massage. Additional steps I chose to take after completing my own research were to eliminate as much plastic food storage and paraben-containing cosmetics from my home and routine as possible.
Luckily, I also have the support of an incredible family and amazing friends who were all on board with everything I was willing to do to lower my stress levels. It really does take a team.
Since then, I’ve reduced my hospital visits to weekends only, and if I have a particularly busy Saturday or Sunday, I skip the visit that day so I can take care of my responsibilities and still have time to care for me.
In December, I treated myself to a spa day complete with manicure, facial, foot treatment and hot stone massage. I’m also now scheduling monthly massages.
After completing my Indoplex protocol, I continued to have extreme emotional issues. Now, I take a daily supplement called Bliss at the recommendation of my doctor. This really seems to help take the edge off.
Making the time for daily exercise is still a challenge. But, I’m working out twice per month with my personal trainer, journaling twice daily and taking more time to prepare healthy meals for Hubs and myself.
There’s still a long road ahead before I believe I’ll have my stress levels totally under control, but I’m actively working toward that goal.
Long story short, don’t let stress take over your life. Manage it as soon as it starts to creep into your life and address unusual symptoms right away. Dealing with the stress to maintain your health and your sanity is the best way you can help everyone you love.
What step can you take today to better manage your stress?