Navigating the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can be a lot to handle at the best of times, but especially on top of living through a global pandemic.
We’re bringing you our tips for managing your PCOS symptoms during national lockdowns and beyond.
Regular exercise has many benefits for everyone, both physically and mentally. Exercise can boost happiness, help to maintain a healthy weight, and relieve stress. For PCOS sufferers, regular exercise is important for the same reasons. Many women with PCOS experience weight gain, especially around the abdomen, and difficulty losing weight. Exercising regularly can at least help to balance these difficulties out, and ideally lead to maintaining a healthy BMI and waist size.
Exercise can also be part of self-care; some find it therapeutic to engage in exercise daily or multiple times a week, even if it’s ‘light’ exercise. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, though! Whether you prefer jogging, cardio, weight-lifting, yoga, or dancing, there is something for everyone.
It may be more difficult to complete your normal exercise routines during the lockdown, with gyms closed and group exercise restricted. Even going for a jog/run alone outside can be daunting if there are lots of people around. It’s important for PCOS sufferers to reduce stress in their lives, fresh air is important but don’t go out too often if it’s going to increase overall stress levels due to the pandemic. There are plenty of home workouts you can do indoors on your own/with your household; although it may be different from normal, try to stay positive and find something that works for you.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to managing PCOS symptoms, as is steering clear from too much sugar, starch, and other inflammatory foods.
Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you’re eating a nutritious diet. It’s important to plan ahead and be savvy with the products that you buy; for example, a lot of ‘fat-free’ products have increased amounts of sugar to add flavour, so read labels carefully. Some PCOS sufferers may need to include supplements in their diet to receive all of the nutrients that they need, particularly if they eat a restrictive diet such as vegetarian.
With lockdown restrictions, people tend to go to the shops less frequently but buy in bigger quantities. Doing this, and/or ordering groceries online, aligns well with meal planning as you can prepare for the week ahead’s meals. It can also help avoid impulse purchases that may be unhealthy.
Self-Care and Mental Health
A lot of people are struggling with the lockdowns, even without any other physical or mental illnesses. Dealing with PCOS in addition to a global pandemic can be stressful, emotional, and frustrating, especially due to hormone imbalances. It is important to manage stress levels and regulate your emotions with self-care routines tailored to you.
You may enjoy 10 minutes of meditation per day, writing in a journal, or more physical self-care such as a relaxing bath. Whichever you prefer - and self-care does look different for everyone - it’s important to keep in touch with your emotions and look after yourself.
If you’re feeling down and experiencing difficult emotions, reach out to a trusted friend or family member for help.
GPs and pharmacies are swamped with the pandemic, so plan ahead and keep track of any medication refills you need or appointments you need to make. It’s important to stay on top of your medical needs, particularly with medication so as to avoid the unwanted side effects of missing doses.