Stress begets stress – this is why even when you’re trying to be a “normal” person, you may have trouble managing your emotions and reactions to situations.
Let me just put your mind at ease: you are not alone, and it is NOT all in your head!
Here are five more of my favorite ways to bust through stress!
You knew this one would be first! But it’s true, you’ve got to stop yourself and start breathing. If you do one thing, it’s this…take a moment to breathe. I always go to my standby – taking a deep breath for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts and exhaling for as long as I can. Then I repeat. Deep breathing changes things on a physiological level.
- Support your adrenals with food
There are many things you can do to support your adrenals through diet. One of the most important is to stabilize your blood sugar. You should also avoid stimulants such as coffee and chocolate (I know, not fun but I promise it will help!) and avoid alcohol (again, not a super fun suggestion but alcohol can actually put additional stress on the adrenals and affect your mood – not in the fun, party kind of way!).
- Flex your muscles
A wonderful technique for easing yourself during a high-stress time or panic attack is to use progressive muscle relaxation. What you do is go from head to toe, starting with the muscles in your face, then on to your arms, hands, stomach, yo’ booty, thighs, calves and feet. You’ll tense each muscle group for 10 seconds and then release.
- Smile, laugh and have fun
If you’re at home when you start freaking out, I highly recommend throwing on your favorite funny movie. The act of cueing up the movie will require focus that will help you calm down. If that doesn’t work, call your inappropriate friend or colleague and have them dish out something funny – you know they will.
OK, don’t roll your eyes! I know some people find meditation a little woo-woo, but It’s seriously one of the best things I’ve done to support my healing and cope with my anxiety. AND, the really great part is that you don’t have to do it alone.
I’ve recorded a healing meditation for you — click to download the Free Relaxation Audio — that will help you de-stress and get into the right mindset for healing. It was one of the most popular bonuses from the Your Best Thyroid Life Summit!
All you have to do is get comfy, hit play, and let me soothe you with words. It’s pretty magical! (If I do say so myself…)
So now that you know why you’re being challenged by stress and anxiety and why it’s important to mitigate it, you may start to stress about not stressing.
This used to happen to me! I was so committed to reversing my Hashimoto’s that I put a ban on stress in my life.
Except that life doesn’t work like that…
Stress comes and goes but the moment I would perceive it, I’d tried to get a handle on it and control it and then I’d start stressing that I felt stress and that created more stress. Ai ai ai…
Don’t do this! Don’t let your desire to reduce stress actually create more stress to you and your nervous system.
The best thing you can do is to relax about it all. Be aware but be relaxed. You have your tools now. When stress arises, talk to it, give it a little wave and let it pass you by.
If you love these kinds of actionable tips, you’re absolutely going to want to check out the Anxiety Workshop I did with EFT & Trauma Release (TRE) Specialist, Chad Brown.
This workshop is loaded with practical ways to tackle panic, anxiety and overwhelm as well as goodies and more tips for thriving with thyroid disease in the workshop.
We did two hours of Q&A with participants who had a lot of “A-HA” moments. You’ll discover simple methods you can use in everyday stressful situations. Check it out here.
In our next coaching session, we’re going to talk about the topic I get the most questions about – thyroid nodules and cancer. You won’t want to miss that session.
Build Your Day Around Better Sleep
Insomnia is actually one of the most common complaints Americans bring to their doctors. What you may not know is that it’s also a common side effect of thyroid disorders.
Good sleep is essential for good health.
Sleep helps our brains function properly and helps regulate our emotions, it helps heal your heart and blood vessels, and it helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that regulate your appetite. (Source)
Insomnia and your thyroid
So how is sleep (or lack thereof) related to your thyroid?
Numerous studies have shown that insomnia is linked to nutritional deficiencies, specifically certain vitamins and minerals. When you have thyroid problems, you also have gut problems, and gut problems mean that your body is not absorbing all the nutrients it needs from your food.
I feel a little like I’m preaching to the choir here, but once again: it’s all about your gut!
Another possible cause for insomnia happens when your cortisol levels are out of whack. Cortisol is the “stress” hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It’s naturally higher in the morning, when we need to wake up, and lower in the evening when it’s time to go to sleep.
If your adrenals are overstressed, however, they could be releasing cortisol at all times of the day and night, making it difficult to fall asleep. High levels of cortisol in the body decrease thyroid function, so these kinds of problems go hand in hand.
Design your life to banish insomnia
Clearly, insomnia is a symptom of a much bigger problem — and it can contribute to other serious problems like brain fog, depression, and weight gain.
Yet many of my clients don’t seem to prioritize sleep. How many times have I heard that someone is used to “getting by” on only six, five, or four hours of sleep a night. Lemme just point out — that’s insanity! Studies consistently show that adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night for optimum health and wellbeing.
So how do we get there?
First let’s be clear: I’m know we all want to sleep better…that we’ve all spent countless nights tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. It’s not that we don’t want to sleep but sometimes we’re not making it a priority.
That’s why, I’m calling attention to the fact that you need to be proactive and do something about it. And that something is not popping a pill to help you sleep, and introducing more chemicals into your already overburdened body.
The solution is all about designing your life to be conducive to proper sleep. Below, I’ve got some suggestions for how to make good sleep habits a part of your entire day!
Start your day with some light exercise. I recommend yoga, tai chi, or qi gong to many of my clients for the positive physical and mental benefits. The National Sleep Foundation shows that exercise is excellent at battling chronic insomnia.
Meditate. Even for five minutes! Mindfulness as a stress-reduction technique has shown to help reduce insomnia. (Source)
Skip the caffeine. It’s not good for your adrenals and it’s been shown as a possible cause for insomnia.
Eat two Brazil nuts with breakfast. Brazil nuts are a wonderful natural source of selenium, an important mineral for regulating sleep.
During your day:
Take back your time. One of the most effective practices for stress reduction that I teach my clients is ninja time management — that means chopping out any activities that aren’t essential to your day. Find ways to reduce your stress through taking control of your time.
Get outside. Vitamin D is another vital nutrient for sleep regulation, so just getting a little sun every day is a wonderful way to improve your sleep. If you have trouble getting outside find a whole food or bio-available vitamin D supplement.
Eat foods rich in vitamin A. These include sweet potatoes and leafy greens. Leafy greens can have goitrogenic properties, so it’s best to steam them or cook them well before eating if you have problems with them.
In the evening:
Eat a high-protein evening meal. You know the turkey coma we all get after Thanksgiving dinner? It’s caused by tryptophan, which helps the body produce melatonin and serotonin necessary for sleep.
Have some cherries for dessert, in juice or in a daily supplement. Sour cherries (especially Montmorency) can also help boost the body’s supply of melatonin.
Drink a small cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is a classic soothing natural sleep aid.
Have an epsom salts bath with lavender. The warm bath will help your body relax (and detoxify!) and the lavender is a wonderful aromatherapy scent for relaxation.
Turn off your devices at least 1 hour before bed. The blue lights from electronic devices can stimulate your brain to wake up. (Plus, anything you might read — like work emails — that could stress you out isn’t helping.)
Go to bed at the same time every night. I can’t impress upon you enough how important this is. Having a set bedtime lets your body become accustomed to a routine, and you’ll find you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
If you implement these strategies into your day, I can practically guarantee that you’ll see an improvement in your sleeplessness in no time.
While this isn’t a quick fix, it will help you sleep peacefully in the long-term.