Reduce Your Stress

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photo courtesy of

With so much competing for our daily time, stress is a well-established part of the lives of many Americans.  However, it is not something we should continue to accept.  Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your sleep, digestion, weight, memory, skin, and heart.  Not to mention that many people adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, such as smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, overeating, or lashing out angrily at others.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, you are advised to take immediate steps to reduce stress in your life, as well as manage the stress you do have in a healthier manner.

The first step toward reducing your stress is to give your life an honest assessment, and move forward with the goal of avoiding any unnecessary stress.  In many cases, this comes down to simply being more assertive and remembering you can take control of your environment.  Does a certain coworker stress you out?  If so, it’s OK to not talk to them more than is necessary to get the job done.  Is there a topic of conversation that puts you on edge?  If so, you can refuse to discuss it.  Is someone putting more demands on your time than you can handle?  If so, know it is acceptable to tell them no.

Another positive step in the right direction to managing your stress is adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Avoid self-medicating with items such as alcohol and junk food.  Instead, it is very important to get enough sleep each night, as being tired exacerbates stressful feelings.  Completing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week is excellent for releasing your body’s pent-up tension.  A well-balanced diet, starting with a healthy breakfast, is key to keeping your energy up and your mind clear as for many, just being hungry can cause stress.  Finally and most importantly, if stress has become a serious issue in your life, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss it further.


Things that make you feel Tired or Sluggish

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photo courtesy of

Fatigue is certainly a common symptom of pregnancy, but if you know you are not pregnant and are feeling unusually sluggish anyway, you may be uncertain what to do.  First and foremost, if you are not feeling well, it is important to contact your physician and schedule an appointment.  While discussing things with your doctor, he or she may bring up some of the following common causes of fatigue.

1)      Dehydration– The average adult human body is comprised of 50-65% water, and this liquid is vital to keeping things functioning as they should.  Moderate dehydration can actually result in a loss of three percent of your total body weight, which can make you feel lightheaded as well as impact your ability to concentrate.

2)      Cell Phones and Tablets– Technology has made it so simple for us to check our e-mail, perform a quick internet search, or watch a funny video anytime of the day or night. However, you should consider keeping your bedroom a gadget-free zone.  Using your cell phone or tablet before bed increases your brain activity, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Once you are asleep, these very same gadgets could wake you up again with their ringing and beeping.

3)      Medication– Be sure to bring a full list of the medications and herbal supplements you are taking, along with their dosages, to your appointment.  Your doctor can let you know if any of them have the side effect of decreasing your energy level.

4)      Gym Habits– Working out has the benefit of reducing the amount of cortisol, a stress-producing hormone, in your body.  However, if you perform aerobic exercise for too long, your body will actually ramp up cortisol production instead.

5)      Iron Intake– In order for oxygen to move around your body efficiently and eliminate waste from your cells, you need at least 18 milligrams of iron per day.  Without it, you can develop what is known as iron deficiency anemia, which manifests itself through fatigue.

Menstrual Cycle Positives

When women discuss their menstrual cycle, it is usually about some negative aspect of it.  After all, the start of your period brings on a full range of emotion, from the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome to the disappointment of not being pregnant.  While your monthly cycle is all too often unwelcome, we would like you to consider the ways in which it can be used to your benefit.

In previous postings, we have discussed how estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone fluctuate in your body throughout your cycle.  By tracking your cycle and being attuned to your body, you can schedule certain tasks on days when your body’s hormones will give you optimal performance.  Below you will find some examples of ways you can maximize your menstrual cycle.

  • You can make the most of exercising on days when your estrogen levels are lower,
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    photo courtesy of

    which is typically days 4-11 in a 28 day cycle.  At this time, you will find high-intensity exercise easier, resulting in lower breathing and heart rates throughout.  This is because the decreased estrogen allows for more efficient burning of the glycogen in your body, which provides quick energy.

  • Many women report feeling more creative when they are menstruating, which would be the result of the calm brought on by the drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. If you are a writer, artist, craftswoman, etc., you may find this time to be very productive for you.
  • In her book, “The Optimized Woman: If You Want to Get Ahead, Get a Cycle,” author Miranda Gray posits that women’s skillsets change throughout their monthly cycle, and describes how awareness of this can increase productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. Gray states that abilities that you will find heightened at various times of the month include logical reasoning, strategic planning, critical analysis, team building, project initiation and management, and outside of the box thinking.

Have you noticed times in your cycle where your abilities are heightened?  Tell us more in the comments below.


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Yoga and Your Menstrual Cycle

Yoga is a spiritual science founded in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.  It is a series of women-doing-yogaphysical postures, varying in difficulty level, which help you become more in tune with your body and at peace with your surroundings.  Yoga has become extremely popular in the United States due to its dual purpose of helping you get fit while also calming your mind.  For women, yoga can play a positive role in various aspects of your menstrual cycle.

  • PMS Relief– Yoga can be used for the wide variety of symptoms that accompany premenstrual syndrome.  First, it boosts circulation, which can relieve the buildup of fluid that causes bloating.  Next, the focus on deep breathing increases oxygen flow to your tissues, which eases uncomfortable cramping.  Finally, yoga requires focus, which, if nothing else, will take your mind off how you are feeling for a blissful period of time.  Poses to try include child’s pose, cat pose, and bridge pose.
  • Fertility– While yoga is not a direct treatment for infertility, it has elements which can be helpful to a woman struggling with fertility issues.  First, it helps to increase blood flow in the pelvic area.  Next, it helps those practicing it achieve tranquility.  This is important because the stress that occurs in most people experiencing infertility can only exacerbate the issue further.
  • Regulating Hormones– Yoga works by pressurizing and depressurizing specific glands in your body, and in doing so, can help regulate your hormonal secretions.  Therefore, the regular practice of yoga has a positive impact on your endocrine system.  As a result, yoga can help you decrease hot flashes brought on by menopause, boost your libido, improve memory, eliminate good cravings, reduce and manage pain, combat fatigue, lower anxiety, decrease mood swings, lower depression, balance your thyroid, and much more.




Natural Cures for Premenstrual Syndrome

Approximately 85% of menstruating women report having some symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), which is triggered by the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels occurring in the body the week before your period.  PMS can cause more than 150 different symptoms, including bloating, food cravings, and mood swings.  Medications exist to aid in most of these issues. However, there are some natural cures to try as well.

  • Supplements: According to studies, women who took Vitamin E and Fish Oil capsules daily for six months saw major improvements in mood swings, breast tenderness, headaches, cramps, and acne.  There is also evidence to show ingesting about 1300 milligrams of calcium each day can help with these symptoms as well.

women yoga

  • Exercise:  While exercising may feel like the last thing you want to do when you are feeling bad, mild exercise can help you fight headaches, anxiety, mood swings, and cramps.  Working out increases your endorphins, which eases pain, and also triggers the dopamine and serotonin receptors in your brain, which increases pleasure and fights depression.  If you really aren’t up to hitting the gym, try stretching or yoga to ease some of the tension in your body.
  • Acupuncture:  Research has shown that acupuncture eases the insomnia, cramps, nausea, anxiety, and headaches associated with PMS in 78% of women.  Typically, relief is experienced within 24 hours of a session.
  • Natural Diuretics– Bloating is a common and universally reviled PMS symptom, but it can be alleviated with natural diuretics.  Aim to add potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C to your diet through eating healthy foods such as celery, bananas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fennel, chasteberry, Dong quai, Maca, Yams, Lemon balm, Ginko and watercress.
  • Massage– Any massage, even one you give yourself, serves to increase blood flow and ease tension in your mind and body.  For an extra boost, try adding several drops of lavender, a natural muscle relaxer, to a handful of massage lotion and rub it into your belly using a clockwise motion.  In addition, Yoga can be a great relaxation remedy and similarly, some poses are ideal for your well being.

If you have some other natural cures you know of and would like to share, please add them to the comments below.



Getting Fit After Giving Birth

The idea of getting fit while juggling the responsibilities of parenting a newborn can seem overwhelming.  Thankfully, the process of taking off the extra weight should be a gradual one.  You can expect to lose four to seven pounds of water weight after returning home as your uterus returns to normal size.  From there, it is recommended you give yourself 6 months to return to your fighting weight.

According to WebMD, it’s very important you not rush into cutting calories or extreme exercise immediately.   They liken pregnancy to running a marathon daily for nine months.  Even if you took extremely good care of yourself during that time, your body will still need to replenish energy and nutrients sapped by the experience.   Therefore, it is advised you not start to restrict calorie intake until at least 6 weeks after the baby is born.  During the first six weeks, you should eat 1800-2000 calories per day.  After 6 weeks, you will still need to maintain your calorie intake at that level if you are breastfeeding. If you are not breastfeeding, you can cut back roughly 500 calories per day, aiming to lose no more than one pound per week.

While dieting is discouraged, exercising should most definitely be on your to-do list.  Research has shown that exercise can not only help you regain your pre-pregnancy shape, but increase your energy level and decrease your risk of post-partum depression.  WebMD encourages you to check with your doctor before beginning your exercise program.  Once medically cleared, you don’t want to push the difficulty level up too quickly.  Doctors warn that you should not perform any exercise that puts major strain on your joints within the first 6-8 weeks.  Therefore, a good way to get started is simply by taking daily walks while pushing your baby in the stroller.  Once you feel stronger, start to add back in exercises you did during your third trimester, and then slowly work backward until you have returned to your pre-pregnancy routine.  At any point, if you experience pain or discomfort as a result of exercise, stop and check in with your doctor.  You can work together to find a routine that is right for you.