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Tag: stress

Deep Breathing To Support Hormone Balance

Hormones are a funny thing, aren’t they? 

 

When they’re in sync, we don’t worry about them. 

 

When they’re not, well, it feels a bit like our bodies are betraying us, doesn’t it? 

 

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ll know that there’s a lot that can be done to support hormone health  with nutrient dense food and high quality sleep.

 

And what about exercise?

 

Exercise is an amazing form of self-care and stress management that, in combination with consistent sleep and eating habits, can help bring balance to hormones like estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. 

 

And considering I’m more than halfway through my yoga teacher training, it would be remiss for me not to mention the incredible power of yoga to help balance hormones. 

 

The physical practice of yoga is beneficial of course, to help balance cortisol and adrenaline levels, however I really want to share the power of yoga breathing. 

 

Incorporating a few yogic breathing techniques into your day to day life can help reduce stress, which can have a positive effect on hormone balance.

 

Does the breathing technique help to calm you down?

 

 Let me know in the comments!

 

Do you want support to balance your hormones, reduce stress and stop mood swings?  Get in touch for a free 30 minute nutrition, hormone & menstrual health review to help clear the confusion.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, trainee yoga teacher and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Let’s talk about how our thyroids are affected by stress!

 

Let’s talk about your thyroid and stress!

 

Good thyroid health is closely connected the health of your glands that produce your stress hormones – your adrenals. These tiny glands are located on top of your kidneys.

 

Chronic stress is the enemy of a happy and balanced hormonal system.

 

Sustained levels of stress increase the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) that your adrenals produce. And when you’re constantly stressed and not doing anything to reduce your stress levels, this causes a disruption to balanced thyroid hormone production.

 

Here’s the science: Chronic cortisol production means you produce less free T3 and too much reverse T3, which blocks thyroid hormone receptors.

 

What do I mean by chronic stress?

 

These are things that place stress on your body: not getting enough sleep, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, dehydration, excessive levels of cardio, shallow breathing, physically and emotionally abusive relationships, constant worry, amongst many others.

 

Doing things to act as a counterbalance to stress is essential for balanced hormones!

 

We all live busy lifestyles so some amount of stress is normal – it’s when you’re not doing anything to offset that stress, that issues can arise.

 

How do you manage your stress?

 

Do you want to you know more about your thyroid? Schedule in a 30 minute Hormone Health Review with me! 

 

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

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I Tried It: The 4-7-8 Deep Breathing Method For Better Sleep

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Do you ever have nights where your mind is whirring and it’s tricky to drop off to sleep? I do.

 

I’ve been trying the 4-7-8 deep breathing method to help me get to sleep and it’s been really helpful! Pioneered by Dr Andrew Weil, the technique is designed to calm the mind and relax the muscles. If you’re one of the 30% of Brits who suffers from poor sleep, anything is worth a try, right?

 

Not sleeping well doesn’t just affect your blood sugar balance, make you tired and unable to concentrate – it also puts you at risk of more serious health issues including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and even reduces your life expectancy.

 

The 4-7-8 deep breathing technique comes from yoga breathing, where you have to keep the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth. You breathe in through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully through your mouth making a whoosh sound.

 

Here’s how to perform the 4-7-8 mindful bedtime trick:

1.    Exhale through your mouth making a ‘whoosh’ sound.

2.    Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four.

3.    Hold your breath for seven seconds.

4.    Exhale through your mouth, making a ‘whoosh’ sound to the count of eight.

5.    Inhale again and repeat the cycle 2-4 times or until you feel yourself drifting off.

 

According to Dr Weil, this technique works by filling the lungs with air, allowing more oxygen into the body, which in turn promotes a state of calm. Dr Weil advises doing the breathing during the day as well as it can also be used to improve digestion and stop the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the body, reducing stress.

 

Even if you decide this stress-relieving technique isn’t for you, it’s worth exploring other ways to reduce your stress levels. Stress plays such a huge part in how we feel about ourselves, and that in turn has a knock-on effect on how motivated we are to eat well and take proper care of both our physical and mental health.

 

It might seem like a luxury to practise mindfulness or indulge in any kind of self care but you know what they say when you’re on a plane: you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can save anyone else.

 

The same is true for healthy eating. In my clinic, people often come to me feeling unmotivated and exhausted by life and it’s my job to help you feel inspired to make positive changes for yourself. And once you feel motivated again, it will help to inspire the whole family and others around you.

 

If you know you need a diet and lifestyle upgrade, but are not sure exactly what that would look like for you, get in touch. Looking forward to talking to you and helping you take the first step towards a new you.

Stories I loved this week.

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I’ve been talking a lot about self-care and ways to destress recently. It’s so essential. Here are five more ways to feel less stressed. (Healthyish)

I love this profile of Oprah, especially this line, “When the shoot is finally over, I am taken to the teahouse, a romantic, open-air stone structure Oprah built for the sole purpose of reading The New York Times in the morning while drinking her tea.” She’s living her best life! (Vogue)

I’m mixed race and have spent a lot of time and money relaxing my naturally curly hair. I’ve always known that the relaxers the hairdressers use to straighten hair are incredibly toxic, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve been able (i.e. found the courage) to stop relaxing my hair and embrace my natural curls. It’s horrifying how many more chemicals there are in products targeted at women of colour.(Popular Science)

Are rising carbon dioxide levels decreasing the amount of nutrients in our food? (Politico)

I love the look of this fig and bacon recipe. (Bon Appetit)

Did you know that your gut microbiome has a circadian rhythm, similar to the one in humans? And their daily rhythms affect us in many ways, such as affecting when in the day our livers best metabolise drugs (it’s usually the morning). (The Conversation)

People will like you more if you ask them questions. (New York Magazine)

Are you more stressed than you realise?

bus tickets at london transport museum

How do you feel right now? Check your breath. Is it shallow, taking short, little breaths through your nose? Check your hands and teeth – are they clenched? Check your shoulders – are they tensed up towards your ears?

 

If you answered yes to two of the above questions, you might be more stressed that you think you are.

 

Stress is a funny thing. One day, you can feel it, in your head, in your stomach, in your jaw. Then the next day, you feel like you’ve gone back to your normal self. That’s the thing about stress:  it’s adaptive. In its fight to maintain stability, the status quo, your body adapts to stress. It produces more hormones to keep you on an even keel, so that the stress level that’s got you all over the place one day, could feel normal the next.

 

But all that stress that you’ve adapted to has a negative effective in the long term. When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a stress hormone. When your body produces high levels of cortisol on an ongoing basis, i.e. when you’re constantly stressed, bad things happen. Your immune system doesn’t work as well, you put on weight around the middle, your ability to get pregnant is reduced and your mood is affected.

 

So now that you know about stress and how your body can adapt to it, how can you keep it under control?

 

1.  If you can’t reduce stressful events in your life like work, school or family, you can change how you react to these stressors. Being gentle on yourself and having perspective on what really matters can help reduce your response to stressful things like a big work project, a looming school deadline or unruly children (or parents!).

 

2. Take a deep breath. This is a quick thing you can do when you feel overwhelmed. Deep breathing supports your nervous system and gets your body back into parasympathetic mode.

 

3. Don’t reach for the biscuit tin. Sugary foods will exacerbate your stress. Nourish your body and eat foods that boost the happy hormones like avocado, wild salmon and almonds.

 

4. Take a break. Take 5 minutes from your desk and go for a little walk (leave your mobile at your desk too). Your emails still be there when you get back but in the meantime, you’ll have stretched out your legs and gotten a little perspective on whatever’s troubling you.

 

5. Stretch it out. A regular yoga or pilates practice will support the release of endorphins and happy hormones like serotonin and melatonin.

 

6. Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. Fatigue can change our perspective, push us into negativity and make stress worse.  After a good night’s sleep, the things that are causing you stress may not have disappeared, however being rested will hopefully give you a better perspective on how to tackle your stressors.

 

7. Develop a good self-care routine. Everyone’s self-care routine is different but having one is a must. Doing small things for yourself is a fantastic way to lower your stress. Take a hot bath, light a lovely candle, have a long conversation with a good friend, go for a nature walk. Find a way to do something that makes you feel good and that doesn’t add to your stress levels.

 

How do you manage your stress levels?

Get in touch to book a free 20 minute health and energy review  with me to find out more about how you can improve your health and wellbeing and reduce your stress.

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Stories I loved this week.

coffee break

Happy weekend! Here’s a round up of some of the interesting food, health and wellness articles I’ve read this week. Have you found an interesting study? Send it my way!

Just eat real food and eat mindfully. This interesting study shows that the common denominator between a good quality low-fat and low-carb diet is having vegetables all day long, as much as you can eat, having a salad every day, no added sugar and as little refined flour as you can get. (The Washington Post)

Changing what you eat (and drink) can help you respond better to stress. (The New Potato)

I’m a big believer in reproductive freedom, however this story underlies the importance of women doing proper research before they choose. The joking tone to a story ultimately about hemorrhaging and anaemia caused by a copper IUD is disturbing. (Refinery 29)

I love the cooking tips in this article, especially around really thinking about how you salt your food – it is through an actual salt or through salted foods like anchovies, capers or olives? (Food 52)

More reason to be mindful about the amount of fish you’re eating. (NY Daily News)

Who doesn’t love Ina Garten? (Epicurious)

This is a great recipe for fig season. (Bon Appetit)

What I’m Reading: 10% Happier

Riding the waves

Everyone seems to be talking about mindfulness these days.  A few months ago, I was wandering around Indigo, a fabulous chain of bookstores in Toronto and decided I wanted to read something about mindfulness and meditation, to learn a bit more. I didn’t fancy a long tome ala Eckhart Tolle, just something light and easy so I picked up 10% Happier, on a whim.

I’m glad I did. Subtitled ‘How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story’,  10% Happier definitely did the trick in giving a light hearted introduction to mindfulness and meditation.

I’m personally a bit more open than Dan Harris, the author was initially, to meditation and mindfulness, but it’s his overriding skepticism and back story that really make the book so engaging and funny. A bit of back story: Dan Harris is a high profile anchor on ABC, an American television network and is typical of many of us. Stressed, very ambitious, trying to cram 25 hours into 24 and using drugs, alcohol and food to self-medicate. He falls into the meditation / mindfulness world through a story he’s reporting on and is intrigued, yet dubious.

What I loved most about this book, was Dan’s big realisation, on his meandering journey to learning about mindfulness. He wasn’t ever going to find something that would make him 100% happier. But anything that would make him even 10% happier was something worth exploring. I like that. There’s no expectations for a cure-all, or something life changing. Just something to help make each day a little brighter, something to help cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Even if you think of this mindfulness stuff is b.s., the book is still worth a read, purely for the fish out of water in crunchy hippy meditation world narrative that underpins it. The appendix also includes some great counter arguments to various ‘bad’ reasons not to meditate and a lovely basic mindfulness mediation that you can even do on the tube. To paraphrase:

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Feel your breath. Pick a spot – nose, belly or chest. Really try to feel and focus on the in-breath and then the out-breath.
  3. Every time you get lost in thought (which you will – thousands of times), gently return to the breath…beginning again and again is the actual practice, not a problem to overcome so that one day we can come to the ‘real’ meditation.

Have you tried mindfulness or mediation? What did you think? I’ve used Headspace and found it very calming and also practice the parasympathetic breathing that I learned in Hypnobirthing (really!) when I get really stressed.

Photo by Cameron Kirby

I Tried It: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling. It’s so hot right now, isn’t it? Goop’s talking about it, Kayla’s released her own branded grid roller and many gyms now have rollers as standard in their cool down sections.

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But what is foam rolling? in a nutshell, foam rolling or myofascial release, to use the technical term, is a way of using a small foam tube, with grids or without to stimulate your fascia, the thin layer of connective tissue that surround your muscles. When we stretch after a workout, we help relieve soreness in large muscle groups, however we do nothing for the fascia. Foam rolling can prevent / reduce stiffness in the fascia, which in turn helps to increase mobility, range of movement and even lymphatic draining. Which is important, even if you’re not an Olympic athlete.

Foam rolling has become really important for me, especially since I’ve increased the amount of exercise I do. Even though I’ve discovered that genetically, I have a fast exercise recovery time, I don’t enjoy the mild stiffness I get the day after a workout. Real talk: the day after I did my first Kayla pre-training workout, I struggled to sit down and stand up properly at work because my legs were so stiff and sore. Not a good look, especially in an office of sports-mad blokes!

I love how easy it is to do. You’re ideally supposed to do some foam rolling after your workout but I never have enough time, so I tend to foam roll in the evening when I’m watching TV or chatting to my husband. Just bear in mind that depending on how often and intensely you exercise and how often you foam roll, it can be painful. Almost that pleasure / pain, where you know the pain is a sign of relief. It’ll make sense when you try it!

Here are some easy foam rolling exercises to try out. The key is not to go too fast – it should be a slow, fluid movement. If you start to experience pain, stop rolling and stay on that part of the muscle for 30 – 90 seconds to try to release the tension.

Here are some good foam rollers:

  1. A lightweight grid roller that gets deep into any knots.

Grid roller

2. I use this one regularly – it’s a good starter foam roller.

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3. This looks like a great two in one option.

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Happy foam rolling!

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Hilthart Pedersen

The week after a holiday can be a bit discombobulating, can’t it? Finding your feet after a break, getting back into your routine, making sorely needed changes to your old routine. I decided that I was going to fully enjoy myself while I was away, as I was feeling very run down after my summer of work travel. All the brakes came off and I indulged my heart out. I’ve spent this week getting my nutrition back in order and getting rid of a head cold I picked up at the end of my trip.

It’s not all doom and gloom, because I worked out a lot while I was away (full disclosure: I’m doing Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide workout plan. It skews young, but it’s incredibly effective) and I can feel my strength when I run around with my son and inevitably end up carrying  him (“pick me up, Mama!”) – 13.5kg of squirming child!

Is work making you sick?  Here are some common sense tips to incorporate into your day. (The Guardian)

Great message in this article: “Nutrition is complicated, but eating is not. Spend your energy discovering what works for you and try not to get too caught up in the science.” (Summer Tomato)

Some stress (and adrenaline) is good for us, but not too much stress. (goop)

5 tricks for making a perfect smoothie. (Well + Good)

Saying no to anecdotal parenting. I love this. (Grok Nation)

There’s simply no substitute for physical presence. (New York Times)

You are what your mother ate. Nutrition during pregnancy is so important, but no one’s perfect and sometimes you have to just submit to the cravings! (The Times)

What to do when you’re ‘zit bombed‘. Funnyname, but nice to see the gut – skin – inflammation connection being discussed. (Well + Good)

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Under pressure.

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Photo by Eli DeFaria

There is no doubt we as women put way too much pressure on ourselves. We want to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, have the perfect body, do our very best at work and cook the best food. The list is endless and we want to be the best at all of it.

Why do we put ourselves under so much pressure and feel such guilt when we’re not meeting these entirely subjective standards that we’ve set ourselves? This wonderful article by Lauren Laverne on the Pool talks about how the quest for the perfect work / life balance is a waste of time. She uses a nice example from the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who says, “We presume that balance is a good thing, but you don’t go to the amusement park roller coaster and say, ‘I want to be balanced.’ No, you want to be as unbalanced as possible, because that’s the thrill ride.”

She follows up this point by saying, “Most of the women I know are part of the ‘sandwich generation’. Their lives are out of whack because they are a mix of conflicting obligations: work, children, money worries, parents who are getting older… The problem isn’t that we have too many passions to pursue, it’s that we have so little time for ourselves we don’t even remember what our passions are any more.”

The point she misses is the additional pressure women feel to be perfect in all things. A pressure that seems to be uniquely female. When we aren’t perfect, we feel guilty, and then seem to double down the pressure instead of asking ourselves if something has to give (something that men are more often than not, able to do).

This pressure has an emotional and physiological effect. We get stressed and put our bodies into sympathetic, fight or flight mode, which increases the amount of cortisol going through our bodies. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and too much cortisol going through the body on a long term basis can do a lot of damage. It can lead to depression, weight gain, a weak immune system and a host of other issues.

So, to paraphrase Lauren Laverne, let good enough be the new perfect.

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