April is a Stress Awareness Month and May is a Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s sort of ironic that these two months come so close together as stress, with its impact on digestion and overall health, eventually leads to anxiety and depression.
I am a PCOS Warrior. I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old. Stress and hormone imbalance go hand in hand which plays a big role in mental health. Over the years of studying holistic nutrition, I learned how stress was the key issue to my health challenges. I made adjustments to my nutrition, corrected my hormonal imbalances naturally, exercised smartly, and for a while, I was able to manage my workload and stress.
I have learned to manage stress but that doesn’t mean I don’t deal with stress and anxiety at all. I am a planner, so I like to stay organized with my thoughts, my work, my routine, and generally everything else on the table.! If things don't go according to plan, I can feel the mess in my mind but I try to bring myself to the center and stay calm. One thing that I can’t plan very efficiently is my periods. I follow a PCOS protocol to balance my hormones and keep my cycles regular for the most part.
But then there are times when I am not able to balance for example last month, which affected my cycles and mental health. I got carried away in a lifestyle, started eating more gluten than I should have, lost motivation to workout and felt overwhelmed with work. I love my work but the work-home-play balance got blurry. I ended up in a cycle of stress, anxiety, inflammation, hormones getting out of control ( which led to no periods), and lastly, feeling of depression surfacing.
We all go through stress even though when we know how to manage that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you.
Whenever I am feeling down or going through stress. I take a conscious pause from everyday activities. I like to sleep or go out in nature. Netflix helps too but I am very cautious with what I watch - uplifting & happy content always helps. The pause simply helps me to work with acceptance. Accepting a situation or stress plays a major role in healing. The first thing I do is ask myself what can I do to change this phase? If I have an answer I do that if I don’t have an answer or control over the situation then I simply start working on my self-development.
Here are some of the techniques that allow me to settle at the moment and manage any kind of stress:
Rest - Allow yourself to rest. It can be the most productive thing that you can do is to rest. It helps to re-evaluate, replan, reset and renew
Digital Detox - A social media post or story can wait. Give rest to your eyes & brain. You can begin with an hour a day to 4 hrs a day. and eventually learn to leave the digital world behind, once a week.
Nutrition - Did you know stress can deplete vitamins and other important nutrients. When under stress I become more mindful about my eating habits. I follow intuitive and mindful eating but when stressed it’s easy to not be aligned with your intuitions so I start eating more grounding foods like khichdi, rice & beans which provide complete protein & complex carbohydrates. Eating wholesome meals makes hormones happy!
Move - When stressed it's very easy to lose motivation to work out. Find a friend with whom you can share goals and keep each other accountable. Just remember the feeling you get after working out.
Set Boundaries - Check in with yourself, start the process of making boundaries for a healthier life. Boundaries are a form of self-care. Do YOU before pleasing anyone.
Spend time with friends and family. Share, learn & grow together.
Please know it is a ton of work, be gentle with yourself. Get some sunlight, fresh air, eat whole
foods, drink water, sleep, move, get some vitamin N and try fasting from food, technology, and people if necessary!
Like my friend has said to me once “life is fluid, no state is permanent and better days are ahead”. So, for now, my friends breathe in love and breathe out peace. Namaste.