Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Feeling defeated, overwhelmed and frazzled, not sleeping well, getting sick more often and even when you’re not sick, feel you’re operating at 50 percent of your best?
Women are typically having trouble losing weight and can’t stick to a diet or kick their sugar habit. They feel they have no willpower. They feel stuck in overdrive. They’re in survival mode, and life feels out of control!
Sadly, this is the common story my patients are telling me in their consultations and it’s becoming a disturbing trend for many of us.
The conversation often goes like this…
“I’m just so overwhelmed by everything in my life. I’m pretty sure my teenagers hate me. They just ignore me, and my daughter is struggling with anxiety. I’m always overwhelmed and feel like my health is completely out of control. I just want to feel like myself again, I want my life back, I want to remember what feeling good feels like. And,” she added, “I don’t want to go down this road of pills and surgery. I want to be healthy and really live my life.”
Does this sound familiar or perhaps a friend says this to you? If it makes you feel any better, know that you’re not alone!
The below have become so common, that many doctors are chalking them up to being normal facts of life or aging:
Stress, poor sleep, and overwhelm: 75 percent of women experience moderate to severe stress, 49 percent report sleep problems.
Obesity: 34 percent of adults age 20 years or over are overweight. Terrifyingly, 50 percent of the entire adult population is expected to have diabetes by 2030.
Depression and anxiety: 1 in 4 women experiences an extended time of major depression in her life, and as many women are on an antidepressant, an anti-anxiety medication, and are not living their lives with the joy and satisfaction we are meant to experience.
Autoimmune disease: The third most common category of disease. 78 percent of autoimmune disease sufferers are women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most prevalent, and affects women almost exclusively.
Why can’t our doctor’s really help us?
Blame our outdated medical education and ‘the system’ (not our doctors!) The serious infectious diseases doctors have long been trained to handle have largely been surpassed by diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and in younger populations in overwhelming numbers.
So too have stress-related conditions and mental health problems. We are seeing more and more people unable to cope and who are turning to medications and street drugs to push down their emotions.
So what the heck is going on?
Why are so many women suffering with symptoms and medical conditions that are so different than before?
Well, I’m going to try and explain it to you as best I can, so that YOU are aware of this for yourself and your family.
It is discovered that at their root, these common problems share the fact that women are living in chronic overload emotionally and physically. We are stuck in survival mode.
This is about the interconnectedness among our nervous system, our immunity, hormones, mood, cognitive function, digestion, circulation, and our stress response.
What conventional medicine hasn’t figured out: That a compartmentalised approach to disease misses the main point—it’s all connected!
What we do, eat, think, and are exposed to in the environment, affects us tip to toe.
But wait,” you may be thinking, “I’m not feeling that stressed, so how could it be my stress response?”
Here’s the thing: it’s not only stress in the way we think of it traditionally—the mental and emotional kinds—that gets your stress response working overtime.
t’s anything that overwhelms your body’s capacity to ‘respond effectively’ to the challenges you’re exposed to.
Know how your Stress Response is at the heart of your symptoms…
Your stress response signals, once registered, get passed on to the pituitary gland, another major hormonal regulatory centre in your brain, and from there, all the way down to your adrenal glands, where your body translates these signals into action.
Here, adrenaline is pumped out which you’ve no doubt heard of. Under adrenaline’s influence, your heart rate quickens to get more blood coursing to your muscles in case you need to run or fight.
Some people actually love the feel of adrenaline. It gives you a rush. But when this rush becomes chronic, it’s not fun anymore. It can turn into anxiety, feeling wired and unable to find inner quiet; it keeps your blood pressure elevated and can cause dangerous heart rate variations, to name a few problems.
Then, Cortisol (your stress hormone) is meant to be secreted by your adrenal glands in a daily, rhythmic fashion. But this becomes off balance. It’s highest should be in the morning, when it gives you a natural surge of energy, but most women are waking up tired which is a sign your cortisol isn’t working as it should.
A healthy sleep cycle is governed by Cortisol lowering and rising again at the right time
As the day progresses, your cortisol level should lower. Then, at about midnight, cortisol, reaches an all time low which allows you to rest, detoxify, and repair while you sleep. Then, slowly, cortisol begins to climb again in the early morning to wake us.
We all have a natural energy drip that wears off as the day goes on and replenishes itself while we sleep.
The problem is, Cortisol works perfectly—until it’s triggered too often, or just doesn’t turn off, meaning we barely ever get a rest from being in high alert.
That’s when all of these protective responses become liabilities.
Reality is that now days, we rarely ever “turn off.” And neither do our stress response, which is where all of the trouble begins. This eventually causes us harm when it just doesn’t stop and this can turn into chronic symptoms—or worse, medical problems.
The havoc plays out in your hormones, digestion, immune system, metabolism, brain, mood—and pretty much everywhere else!
Stress itself is not inherently “bad”; a small amount of contained stress—what we might even call “good stress”—heightens our awareness and memory, mobilizes energy, increases stamina, and boosts immunity. It’s when we have a stress overload that causes us cascading health problems.
Here’s a glimpse of the problems that result from stress overload
Chronic anxiety, overwhelm, and sleep problems: While hyper-vigilance makes you more alert in the short run, in the long run it translates into feelings of oversensitivity, anxiety, feeling constantly stressed out or overwhelmed, “wired,” and becoming sleep-deprived.
Over time, resultant exhaustion can lead to depression, cognitive problems, sugar cravings, and weight gain, and increases your risk for heart disease and even cancer
Brain fog: Sleep problems themselves can cause difficulty with memory and concentration, but cortisol has some very special actions in the brain that sabotage your memory, focus, and even willpower. Deep sleep is also the time your blood should clean your brain from Alzheimer’s causing compounds.