It’s not exactly new information to discover that women often have PCOS and stress… We take on more than they can manage sometimes when trying to juggle the responsibilities of a career, a marriage, and life. We tend to overcommit to avoid missing anything and our physical and emotional well-being takes a backseat to volunteering at functions, taking work home from the office, and keeping the spark alive in with our partner.
It adds up to long days that often go late into the night just to get it all done and then turns into early mornings of getting everyone up, fed and out the door successfully before beginning our own workday.
The result often leads to eating a chocolate bar at your desk for lunch and washing it down with yet another cup of coffee…
In fact, PCOS and stress combined can cause cravings and exhaustion leading to less than ideal lifestyle choices.
Even when we do have a spare minute, just the thought of going to the gym is workout enough. Nighttime is for worrying about things we can’t change or making mental lists of things we don’t want to forget to do the next day…
Poor diet, not enough sleep and lack of exercise on top of the day to day stressors of juggling all of those roles very challenging.
There’s also the “big stuff” that life deals us now and then and let’s not forget chronic health issues with symptoms that range from annoying to life-limiting.
For women with PCOS, they manage a career, maybe a family, possibly chronic physical and mental pain, an irregular menstrual cycle, weight issues and sleep disturbances. Those symptoms, along with others, are aggravated by stress.
Essentially, you are rubbing salt into your own wound by allowing stress to build up and make an already unpleasant list of symptoms flare up more often and become worse.
We all know what we need to do… eat healthier, get more exercise, and take some time out for ourselves…blah, blah, blah.
But, where does a woman find the time to fit in a balanced meal, a trip to the gym and a massage between managing a career and a household?
Aside from adding extra hours to the already long and exhausting day of wearing many hats, what are some realistic and practical solutions to PCOS and stress?
- If you have children, skip a kid thing now and then
The world will not stop spinning if you don’t see every concert, sporting event, and school activity. Does it make you a bad mom? I asked that very question of my own doctor and her response was “Bad mothers drown their children in bathtubs”. Sneaking off to take a little nap, get a decent meal or a massage decreases the odds of any children being drowned in a bathtub so take that time to rest and meet your own physical and emotional needs.
- Exercise is good, but you don’t need a gym
Harvard Medical School says walking is a great form of exercise for women and it can take as little as 10-15 minutes out of your day. Walking requires nothing more than a comfortable and supportive pair of shoes and maybe some water. Walking with a friend can also reduce emotional stress by walking and talking! Walking will even improve memory and help you to resist age-related memory loss.
- Kegel exercises
Seriously, doing kegel exercises might not help you lose weight but they will strengthen pelvic floor muscles. (1) If you want to cross peeing your pants off the list of things that are causing you stress, Kegel exercises are a must.
- Have sex!
Intercourse releases endorphins that offer a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. (2) For women with PCOS, this can be tricky due to associated symptoms; however, nothing is impossible. Don’t be shy about expressing your sexual needs to your partner.Water-based lubricants are effective in managing vaginal dryness and using a sexual aid or “toy” can enhance pleasure for both of you especially if vaginal penetration is painful. Toss body image issues to the wind and remember that your partner loves you and likely desires intimacy. Then, cross sexual tension between you and your partner off the list of things that worry you!
- Plan, prep and prepare
Make a schedule for the week. Include wardrobe and meal planning. Keep healthy snacks on hand, at the office, and in your handbag to prevent eating junk. Don’t be afraid to hand out a chore list to others. Why should everything be your job?
- Find the time to enjoy the things you love
Reading a book, listening to music, or other hobbies you find relaxing and rewarding. Close the door, put up a sign that says “Decompression in Progress”.
- Get a smart device such as Google Home or Amazon Echo
These inexpensive and easy to operate magical electronics require nothing more than to be plugged in and connected to WIFI in order to use them. I use mine to keep track of my weekly calendar, make a grocery list, and send reminders to my family about their events and activities.Items can be input and saved by voice command or manual entry via an app a phone, tablet or computer. Using a smart device means you will have arrived at the grocery store without your list for the very last time. There are many helpful apps that pair well with smart devices and make daily routines more manageable and less forgetful.
- Background music is uplifting and enhances your mood
Playing music on low volume while exercising, cooking, or working will help you feel more refreshed and also help the mundane and mindless tasks seem to go by faster. Create playlists for different activities as well.
- Get a pet
Research suggests that petting an animal can help a person relax, lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins from the brain’s pleasure center. (3) Since puppies and kittens require a great deal of care and supervision and that can add to an already stressful and busy household, try an animal rescue center and look for an adult dog or cat. They are typically housetrained, up to date on vet care and happy to snooze on the couch while their humans are away at work or school.Animals such as birds or small mammals like guinea pigs and gerbils are fun to watch and play with and are safely confined when their humans are away. Fish are a great pet for people with allergies or live in a no pets allowed apartment. Fish can even live at your office and in a school classroom. They are quite relaxing to watch, require very little care and don’t need to play fetch or go for a walk.
Even if you only get 15 minutes a day to regroup and refresh, it will make juggling all of those roles easier and keep PCOS and stress and symptoms more manageable at the same time. You don’t have to do all 9 on the list but try a few for at least 30 days and see which ones fit best into your busy lifestyle while also improving your overall mental and physical health.
Author: Tina Hauser