What Happens to a Woman’s Body When She’s Raising Kids
This is what happens to a woman’s body when she’s raising kids, working, and trying to have it all, according to a hormone doctor who warns it’s easy to miss the signs of impending burnout.
The inner drive to “do more” and “achieve more” is significantly impacting women’s health, families, and careers. The problem is that the burnout process is so dynamic and so intricately woven into women’s lives, with raising families, building careers, volunteering, and maintaining homes and a social calendar, that even the brightest of women are not able to identify the telltale signs of burnout until it is too late.
This steady ride to the land of burnout is caused by a complex and interacting web of stressors, but they all boil down to a few key causes:
- Women’s expanded roles (home, career, children, parents)
- Constant sensory stimulation (devices and being 24/7 plugged in)
- Social pressures to achieve more and have more
- Family and child expectations
- Financial constraints
- Poor lifestyle habits (sleep, diet, exercise, hormone imbalance, and brain chemical deficiencies)
- Adrenaline addiction
The body’s sophisticated response to all types of stressors in high-stress women today is nothing short of a miracle. But the reality is that we overachiever-superwomen-stress-junkies spend quite a bit of time being “plugged in” and in “fight-or-flight” mode, maneuvering strategically between one highly pressurized situation to the next. Its like a time bomb. While our bodies are meant to react to perceived stress occasionally, they are clearly not capable of withstanding longer periods of flight or fight without some sort of breakdown.
This elaborate “stress response,” with multiple internal alarms going off, typically occurs regularly throughout the day for most women. Millions of women today are tripped out on stress from the moment they wake up until they throw themselves in bed at night. This constant state of activation and overstimulation requires continuous effort to preserve and restore your adrenal glands. This is incredibly taxing on them and causes the entire system to become sluggish, which in turn leaves you depleted and imbalanced, with less cortisol and female hormone production, creating a myriad of symptoms that turn your whole world upside down.
The body’s sophisticated response to stress is nothing short of a miracle. But, the reality is that today we are all plugged in 24/7 and in a “fight-or-flight” mode, maneuvering strategically between one highly pressurized situation to the next. It’s like a time bomb. While our bodies are meant to react to perceived stress occasionally, they are clearly not capable of withstanding longer periods of flight or fight without some sort of breakdown. If you’re in over-drive, consider the following easy steps to move you out of it and more balanced.
1. Change your diet and timing
Reduce blood glucose spikes and dips by eating lean proteins, good fats and high-fiber good carbohydrates like veggies, to help eliminate morning grogginess and afternoon fatigue. That means no bagels or muffins for breakfast. Protein is brain food and will improve your focus and memory for the entire day.
2. Take vitamin C and stress support supplements
Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands in the production of cortisol and other adrenal hormones. Consider taking higher doses of Vitamin C in the morning and noon. Also consider stress support supplements that contain adaptogens. I recommend BalanceDocs “Stress AM” and “Stress PM” supplements to balance the day and night rhythm of cortisol.
Walking, yoga, Pilates, and light strength training will serve you better than pounding it out in a spin class or running. Any type of vigorous exercise will leave your stress glands even more taxed, since one of the causes of the stress syndrome is “over-exercising.”
Dehydration is one of the most common problems with fatigue and the physical inability to manage stress.
5. Ignite your parasympathetic nervous system track
Take ten minutes twice daily to reboot. Breathe in through your nose (expanding your belly, not your chest) and out through pursed lips while focusing on the exact thing you want for yourself at that moment. Imagine exactly what you want to feel, have, acquire, and be with all of the positive emotions to go along with it. Stay there for 2-3 minutes
6. Get deep, restorative sleep
Skimping on sleep handicaps the brain, nervous system, hormonal system, and the body as a whole by robbing it of needed recovery from the previous day and hindering the rejuvenation of hormones and neurochemicals to get you through the next day.
7. Begin brain-training
Avoid negative sayings like “I am so stressed” and replaced them with saying, “I choose myself, and am ready for better health, this is not an emergency, I am in control of my life right now.”
Nisha Jackson, Ph.D., MS, WHCNP, HHP, is a nationally-recognized hormone expert and gynecology health specialist with 20 years of experience in research and patient care. She is the founder and owner of Peak Medical Clinics and the author of “Brilliant Burnout.”
Originally published April 2019 for Business Insider