Sleep & Stress Reduction
Focusing on self-care is potentially one of the most important things we can do for our physical, emotional, and mental health. If you’re feeling stressed, burned out, and out of balance, one of the most effective ways to take back control and push the reset button is through self-care.
Depression, anxiety, stress and low mood are commonly reported in women with PCOS. Stress itself is strongly linked to PCOS development, and weight gain. It’s particularly important to work on reducing stress and getting enough sleep.
Sleep is precious. Sadly, having trouble sleeping is common in women with PCOS. Poor sleep can affect daytime mood, well-being, and ability to exercise. Restricted sleep can also cause our appetite hormones to be unbalanced. This means increased hunger, more insulin resistance, and weight gain. These all work together to form the perfect storm for unbalancing your hormone levels. To counteract this, you should try to aim to get around 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Tips for reducing stress:
• Practice mindfulness. Being mindful means tuning into your thoughts and emotions and making decisions based on logic and intuition. When you listen to yourself and become more aware of your surroundings, it’s easier for you to feel more in touch with your life and the world that surrounds you.
• Try some breath work, yoga or meditation. Meditation and controlled breathwork are essentially exercises that teach you to control your breathing rate to bring more awareness to your breath and create a sense of calm. This can be done while in meditation or throughout the day in 5 minutes to an hour of deep, rhythmic breathing techniques.
• Get out into nature. Try nature walks, biking and hiking, swimming, going to the beach, gardening, or spending time with your family outside (picnics, rock collecting, outdoor craft activities).
• Escape the shackles of your to-do list. Sometimes it’s hard to pull ourselves away from our daily priorities like work, chores, and errands. Still, it’s important for your overall mental health and wellbeing to separate yourself from your to-do list and take well-needed breaks throughout your day. This also includes time away from social media.
Tips for better sleep:
• Disconnect (remove screens). Smart phones and ipads interfere with sleep patterns due to the "blue" light photons they emit. These have a huge impact on us and leaves our brains "hypervigilant”, and we don't get restorative sleep. Even 0.12 seconds of light from a phone can delay your body clock.
• Cut out caffeine in the evening
• Try relaxation techniques before bed
• Make your sleep environment restful (a clean, quiet and comfortable bedroom at the right temperature)
• Avoid napping in the day
• Get out in the light during the day, to reset your body clock
• Get some daily exercise.
Exercise is brilliant for people living with PCOS. It can help with insulin resistance, weight loss, improvements in mood, and it has been shown to regulate menstrual cycles and improve ovulation frequency.
Aim for 150 minutes of activity a week, minimum (30 minutes a day, five days per week). There’s been a lot of chat about which type of exercise is best when you have PCOS; high intensity (HIIT), light exercise, ten minutes after meals. The conclusion is that it doesn’t matter.
All types of physical activity including walking, occupational activity (such as heavy lifting and physically active jobs), leisure activity (such as gardening), and resistance exercises can help. It’s important that you find an activity that you enjoy and are able to keep up. When you’re feeling down, tired and bloated, you may not feel like being active. So just getting out there is enough.
Some examples of physical activity include:
• Cycling/ exercise bike
• Weight training
• Tai Chi
More information & help
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