RUSHING WOMAN’S SYNDROME
is changing the face of women’s health By Dr Libby Weaver
need to rush, whether a woman displays it on the outside or keeps it under wraps, is changing the face
of women’s health as we know it in such a detrimental way, writes
he most common answer I hear when I ask women how they are nowadays is – “busy.” When did this so dramatically change? Women are wired. Many of them are tired too. Tired yet wired. And this relentless urgency, this perception that there is not enough time, combined with a to-do list that is never all crossed of f is having such significant health consequences for women.
Many people perceive that illness is to blame for that nagging headache, menstrual problems, frequent insomnia or decreased productivity at work – but stress is of ten the culprit. There are numerous effects of stress on the body – both physical and emotional. In fact, it’s actually more difficult to think of an illness in which stress doesn’t play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected.
The nervous system also plays a really big role in our stress response. There are a number of parts to the nervous system, but the two branches that relate to this concept are the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Simply put, one is the “fight or flight” response or the stressed out response and the other one is the “rest, digest and repair” response, which is the calm response. When you experience stresses your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens and your senses become sharper. These physical changes momentarily increase your strength and stamina, increase your reac tion time and enhance your focus – preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. This stress response over time can be incredibly depleting of energy reser ves.
When your sympathetic nervous system is dominant (when you’re stressed and rushed), your body thinks that it is in danger, whether this danger is perceived or real. Adrenalin is our acute stress hormone. It was designed to save our lives, so it seems ironic that a hormone once designed for this purpose is now having such a detrimental effect on our health. It communicates to every cell in your body that your life is being threatened. When we live our lives in a constant rush, this fight or flight
response goes into over-drive. These hormones can significantly influence whether we gain or lose weight, so it is important to understand how these hormones affect our nervous system and the fuel the body uses before we set out to make our clothes looser.
When the body is stressed, the brain sends signals to produce cortisol and adrenalin. When these stress hormones
If you haven’t lost weight with your
exercise or nutrition routine, then the answer doesn’t lie in what
you are doing.
are released the liver releases more glycogen, which is converted back into glucose (sugar) to give you the energy for “fight or flight” in an emergency. As we rush about in our frantic state we guzzle back another cof fee to deal with our impending day – not realising that we are actually increasing our production of adrenalin, furthering ourselves into the stress spiral.
The body only ever has two fuel sources it can use – glucose or fat. If your body perceives it is in danger and needs to get out of the situation quickly it will access a quick burning fuel source and this is supplied in the form of glucose. I so of ten find that people get stuck in this very situation – they are stuck in sugar burning and subsequently they crave it too. Around 20 years ago, we probably lived from that rest, digest and calm place, only going into the fight or flight response when, for example, a balloon popped or a car drove out in front of us and we had to slam on the brakes. As soon as that stress was over though, we then went back to living in a calm state.
Now it’s the complete opposite. Most people live from this stressed out place. They live in fight or flight to the point where they actually need to schedule down-time and our diets are also keeping many people in this red aler t state. Under stress, muscles tense up which long term can trigger headaches or migraines. Stress that is momentary – such as being stuck in traffic, having a “difficult” conversation with someone, or having a to do-list that is as long as your arm – causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contrac tions of the heart muscle. Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful or protective and star ts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your qualit y of life . . . significant consequences if not addressed.
A pattern I see far too of ten is women running themselves ragged to get in an hour of hard cardio when what their body is really crying out for is some rest and repair. They are busy all day and barely get a chance to eat their lunch and then go straight into a form of exercise that encourages their bodies to produce more adrenalin and utilise more sugar. Balance is the key here. If you are having long stressful days with very few breaks, perhaps you would benefit from incorporating yoga or pilates into your workout regime to allow your body and mind time to restore. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same activity over and over and expecting a different outcome. If you haven’t lost weight with your exercise or nutrition routine, then the answer doesn’t lie in what you are doing.
It is important to realise that the way you think, feel and move is as important to your stress response as what you eat and drink. I write books to encourage and show people to live their lives from the rest, repair and digest branch of their nervous system because it has the most profound effect on your health.
From that place sex hormones are far easier to balance, liver function is better, digestion is better so there’s far less bloating, the thyroid works better which is important for your metabolic rate and your ability to burn body fat and in general your mood is better.
The ripple effec t of a balanced nervous system is extraordinar y and I explore it in more detail in my book Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, where I of fer very practical and easy to implement solutions. I have also designed a Rushing Woman’s Syndrome Quick Star t course, which is a 30-day online coaching programme for the rushing woman who’s too busy to even read the book!
Dr Libby Weaver . . . “A diet primarily focused on plant foods, is so beneficial to the human body.”
RUSHING WOMAN’S SYNDROME The impact of a never ending to-do list on our health. By Dr Libby Weaver