Why is stress management crucial for managing PCOS?
Considering the fast paced life that we’re all living, stress is inevitable. Sometimes the cause of stress leads to more stress! Remember that time you faced hair fall and the doctor asked you to stress less? But that led to more stress, right? It’s a frustrating cycle that literally makes us want to pull our hair out!
Scientifically, experts have stated that stress worsens PCOS symptoms and in some cases could also lead to PCOS in women, let’s find out how…
YO-YO, FOMO, YOLO
Big NO NO!
Stress can be caused by multiple factors. These could be physical, for instance your ‘YO-YO’ diet - losing weight, putting it on, and losing weight again. Or it could be environmental, like the time you started smoking excessively, because YOLO! Or it could be emotional like comparing yourself to others, feeling excessive FOMO to do it all. Sometimes, even healthy behaviour like exercise or HIIT training could be stressors if done excessively. While ‘fighting or flighting’ from such stressors may be inevitable, recognizing and coping with them is possible.
Stress - the Saber Tooth Tiger
That we fight or flight from!
Back when we used to live in the wild (I’m talking like a thousand years ago!) our body’s ‘fight or flight’ mode would kick in when we’d see a Saber Tooth Tiger running towards us. But in today’s concrete jungle, stress is the Saber Tooth Tiger we confront on a daily basis. That’s when our body’s ‘stress-response system’ becomes active and releases the ‘fight or flight’ hormone aka ‘cortisol’. Normally, this system is enabled only during trouble and automatically disables itself once the stressor is gone, signalling to our brain that all’s well!
However, because we’re constantly dealing with stressful situations short-term (acute) stress becomes long-term (chronic) stress leading to increased cortisol production. Now high cortisol levels suppress your immune and digestive systems, interfere with normal metabolism, thyroid function, reproductive functioning, and more. Which then leads to weight gain, elevated blood sugar, mood, and gut disorders. In other words - at such a time, your body is concerned with survival and not so focused on general maintenance and repair. And the immune system is placed in a state of hibernation to conserve and redirect its energy toward the external threat.
Since cortisol is produced from the adrenal glands, when these glands are active they also release androgens or male hormones. And at this time due to high blood sugar androgen is released from the ovaries too. This release of androgens then worsens and even leads to PCOS symptoms in women.
So, your only solution to fight or flight from this Saber Tooth Tiger is stress management!
The joy of missing out
Remove time for yourself and take care of yourself. Treat and pamper yourself once in a way. Take baby steps by making small lifestyle changes - like smoking and drinking less, exercising in moderation, eating a balanced diet. If you love meditating, take time out in the day to meditate or practise some breathing exercises. You could even try mindfulness techniques to calm yourself. If necessary, consult a doctor for medication to manage your anxiety and stress. And try therapy or group therapy sessions - because you’re not alone.
You don’t have to fight or flight away from your stress, you just need to figure out what works best for you and make it a part of your routine. Because a stress-free you is a healthier you.