If you suffer with PCOS, you’ll know that one of the main symptoms is stress. This is partly down to the fact that women with polycystic ovaries produce far more stress hormones, such as cortisol, than usual - which is turn can lead to anxiety, depression, fertility complications and increased levels of insulin resistance.
It's really important to try and keep stress levels as low as possible, to help manage other symptoms and maintain physical and mental health. There are plenty of ways to do this, so we’ve picked our top five tips for staying relaxed and adding a little calm to your life.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is a great way to beat stress - as long as it’s the right kind. Gentle, restorative fitness routines are the way to go - trying to attempt a high-intensity workout when your body is already stressed is almost certainly not going to help.
Instead, try some calming yoga or pilates, or head off into the outdoors for a long walk; there’s evidence that being amongst nature is also a great stress-reducer, so spending some time in the woods or on the beach is a great idea.
When combined with the right nutrition, meditation is a great way to control those stress levels if you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. It can make you feel more relaxed, boost sleep quality and will also help with focusing thoughts and calming the mind.
One of the most important parts of meditation practice is learning how to breathe correctly; focusing on deep breathing automatically relaxes the body, and will lower cortisol levels, which in turn reduces insulin resistance. Meditation has also been shown to help boost the digestive system, which will work towards aiding any weight loss goals you might have.
Add in a Self-Care Routine
One of the best ways to relax and beat stress or anxiety is to simply take some time for yourself. A good self-care routine doesn’t have to be long baths and candles, either - it should be anything that helps boost your mental health and makes you feel good.
For example, allowing yourself the time to focus on perfecting your diet is a great idea - the right foods can not only help with PCOS symptoms and aid weight loss, but they can also help with mental health. You could also choose to spend time in nature, read a good book, take up a new hobby, spend time with friends and loved ones or even binge-watch a favourite TV show.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is vital for good physical and mental health, and one of the best things PCOS sufferers can do to help lower stress levels is to make sure they’re getting enough. Insomnia is a common problem for women with polycystic ovaries, so if you’re having trouble drifting off at night, you could try the following ideas:
- Avoid caffeine throughout the afternoon and evening - switch to a herbal tea instead
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the evening
- Establish a good bedtime routine - a warm bath with lavender oil followed by a mug of warm milk is a great start!
- Keep electronics out of the bedroom - try reading a good novel before you turn the light out instead.
Create a Support Network
One of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to surround yourself with people who you can talk to, and who make you feel supported.It can be hard to feel sociable during difficult times, but making plans with friends and family and sticking to them will help to boost your mental health. Alternatively, there are plenty of support groups, both online and in-person, where you can find other women who are on the same journey as you.