In the modern, Western world, we expect women to raise their children, work full time, maintain their health, maintain their family’s health and run the household. It's an impossible standard! As the pace of life continues to become faster and more stressful, we're seeing this societal expectation take a significant toll on the health of our clients at the BePure Auckland and Havelock North Clinics.
"As BePure Holistic Health Consultant and BePure Clinical Team Manager, Rachel Bird said, “The way we raise children today is the not the same as our ancestors."
As BePure Holistic Health Consultant and BePure Clinical Team Manager, Rachel Bird said, “The way we raise children today is the not the same as our ancestors."
In this blog, we will look at the effect our modern pace of life has on our long term health and vitality.
Control Systems in the Body
Our bodies are constantly balancing the control between the two branches of our nervous systems; parasympathetic and sympathetic. While these two juxtaposing systems work together, one will always take dominance.
We can't consciously control these systems, so achieving perfect balance is not realistic all the time. However, we can control our environment which has a direct affect on these systems. At the end of this blog, we’ll talk through steps that will bring these systems back into balance.
Sympathetic nervous system
Our sympathetic nervous system controls our body’s response when we are under stress. When our sympathetic system is dominant, our body is preparing for action, commonly called the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Our body cannot differentiate between ‘real’ or ‘perceived' stress so it responds in the exact same way. Our adrenal glands will produce adrenaline, this sends an alert signal to cells and organs all over the body that we are in danger. Our heart starts racing and our blood pressure goes up, pushing blood out to our muscles. Our blood sugar surges up, our pupils dilate and we start sweating. These are all things that enable us to either fight, or take flight.
"When our body perceives we are stressed, our adrenal glands will produce adrenaline which sends a signal to cells and organs all over the body, that we are in danger."
Most of the time this response is not necessary for the perceived danger that is in front of us. Having a high heart rate may have helped our ancestors escape a hungry tiger but they're not going to save us from a deadline, financial worries, the kids driving you up the wall or when you're in a rush to please everyone!
Parasympathetic nervous system
Our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ state, controls our body’s response when we are resting. After a period of stress, it tends to bring us back to a state of equilibrium and balance.
"Get to know and nurture your parasympathetic nervous system. When this nervous system is dominant our body can efficiently repair and regenerate"
When our parasympathetic system is dominant, our body brings more blood to the digestive system enabling us to digest and absorb our food. It also slows our heart rate and drops our blood pressure.
Get to know and nurture your parasympathetic nervous system. When this nervous system is dominant our body can efficiently repair and regenerate. Ideally, we would spend the majority of our time here.
For women, the long term effect of chronic stress is hormone imbalance. This is because our sex and stress hormones share the same precursors. When under stress, the body produces less progesterone - our all important, calming hormone, because it's priority is making stress hormones. We call this the 'pregnenolone steal.' In the clinic, we commonly see women with the symptoms of low progesterone. Symptoms of this include bad PMS, menstrual migraines, heavy periods and fatigue. A long term effect of low progesterone includes infertility.
Progesterone is required for you to feel calm and in control. If you often feel that you are not in control of your emotions, it could be a result of low progesterone.
If you suspect you low progesterone or are currently struggling with depression-like symptoms please seek assistance. You can contact your GP or health care provider, or the BePure team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what does it look like when your sympathetic nervous system is in control too much of the time?
Our body wasn't designed to handle being in the ‘fight or flight’ mode for sustained periods of time. Here are some key ways to identify your nervous system is imbalanced.
- You may find it harder to maintain your weight (especially around the tummy area)
- You have become anxious or irritable
- You are experiencing unstable blood sugars levels
- Your hormones are out of balance
How to restore balance
1. Take time each day to breathe
Our body takes signals from its environment. Try to take 10 minutes each day to slow your breathing down. This is a way of signalling to your nervous system that you are not in danger. If you are able to, it's even better to breathe while in my favourite, ‘legs up the wall’ position. This sends a very strong message to your body that you are relaxed.
2. Learn to say "no"
This might be hard for those high achievers out there, but you don’t have to say "yes" to everyone and everything. Start taking the time to please yourself rather than please others. This might look like one evening a week doing something that you enjoy and that serves you. This might be getting an early night or choosing not to do your early morning workout so you can nourish yourself with sleep instead.
3. Combat stress with nutrition
This means providing your body with as much nutritional support as possible. In addition to a whole food diet, I recommend everyone take the BePure Everyday Health Pack. Your body will also likely need extra nutrients when under stress. Our top two nutrients for support under stress are BePure Zinc Restore and BePure Super Boost C.
4. Ground yourself
This may look like a daily meditation practice, getting outside at lunch or going for a walk in nature. 1 Giant Mind is a non-profit, free app, that teaches you how to meditate in 12 easy steps.
5. Set boundaries
This might look like no screens during dinner so you can mindfully enjoy your meal. It might mean dimming the lights after dinner or having one full weekend day to yourself. It’s completely up to you but setting boundaries can help make sure you prioritise serving yourself.
6. Ask for help
Sometimes you need to delegate and allow someone else to help you - this might look like getting a babysitter one night a week, joining the BePure Facebook Community Group, finding an accountability partner or seeking out the guidance of a BePure Holistic Health Consultant.
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