Studies have shown that women with PCOS are more inclined to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression. It could be due to their diagnosis and the features of PCOS, underlying hormonal imbalances (already high cortisol levels), as well as the stress we put our bodies under by following strict diet and exercise regimes in an attempt to control our symptoms.
Managing stress is often one of those things that are a lot easier said than done. In an ideal world we would be able to think about what it is that’s causing the stress in the first place and then remove that cause, however, when that cause is work, family, relationships it’s not quite as simple as removing them.
For this reason, it’s important to find other ways to help you cope with the stressors in life because unfortunately, they will also be there in some shape or form.
I’ve pulled together a list of some of the things that I have found most helpful when it comes to dealing with stress because like you, I’ve had my fair share and have suffered for it too. I hope this list will give you some ideas and inspiration to carve out some time for yourself.
- Schedule time for you – it’s so easy to rush into another busy week with a jam-packed schedule and get to the end feeling exhausted. YOU need to break this cycle by spending some time at the beginning of the week to protect some ‘me time’. This may mean turning down an invite for a social event, it might mean not letting your boss put that after hours or early morning meeting in, perhaps it’s having a chat with your partner so that they can prepare dinner or do the bed/bath routine one evening for you to have some alone time. Remember that it’s okay and important to sometimes say no. You can’t pour from an empty cup; you need to recharge your batteries too.
- Meditate/Breath – I have such a busy mind that even the thought of sitting still for as little as five minutes stresses me out because I know my mind will fill with all the thoughts I’ve been trying to avoid. This is why I found the calm app so great, it’s five minutes of your day and it gradually introduces you to the concept of quietening your mind. Doing this every morning grounds me for the day ahead. For a free month’s trial of calm visit: https://www.calm.com/calmhealthtrial
- Yoga – Once again this is something, I was so sceptical of, but wow does it make a difference. Often, I find that my brain is so occupied with figuring out the pose and pushing through any discomfort I feel during the class that there is no headspace for the things that are stressing me out. And weirdly pushing through those uncomfortable poses kind of feels like you’re pushing through the uncomfortable situations/emotions that you’re experiencing. Sounds weird I know, but you should give this one a go! Sarah is one of my favourite Yoga instructors and is now offering online classes.
- Journaling – My mind races with everything that I need to do, that I didn’t do, of situations or confrontations that need to or could happen along with a full analysis of how they could play out – often the worst-case scenario. Sometimes when this happens, I find it so helpful to do a mind dump and write all of these thoughts down on paper to get them out my head and be able to either move on with the day or get to sleep that night. It doesn’t have to be a fancy ‘dear diary’, a simple list of things that pop into your head does the trick.
- Nourish your body – through wholesome food and movement. When I’ve eaten well and made some time to move my body (whether with a walk or a gym session) I feel so much better and more confident that I can face whatever the day throws my way. If I give in to my emotions and have a meal that makes me feel heavy and sluggish I find it impacts my mood and how I tackle the challenges that the day throws my way.
- SLEEP!!! I can’t emphasise this one enough, when we’re busy and have so much to do it’s easy to feel like we need to wake up at the crack of dawn or stay up past midnight trying to get everything done. We do not function at our best when we’re tired, and sleep deprivation wreaks havoc with our mood, food choices, and how we respond to stressful situations. So please make sleep a priority!
- Laugh and have fun, when last did you allow yourself the time to let your hair down, enjoy a good old rom-com, or go to a comedy show? It feels so indulgent to take time out for yourself when things feel a little stressful and busy, equally when it’s emotional stress that’s getting us down it just doesn’t feel right to ‘have fun’. But it’s one of the best things you can do, a little bit of optimism sprinkled over your stress and you might see things in a different light and feel a little better equipped to deal with the thing’s life throws your way.
- Acupuncture – There is growing evidence showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for PCOS and stress. How it works is still not yet completely clear, but it has been shown to help with ovulation and to regulate androgen levels. I went to the lovely Hannah and couldn’t recommend her enough. Click here to find out more about Hannah and her amazing work.
It’s important to remember that what works for one person will not necessarily work for everyone. These are merely suggestions to give you some ideas of things you could try, if you try something and it just doesn’t feel like you’re benefiting then there’s nothing wrong with scratching it off the list and moving on to the next thing.