Is Stress Killing the Mood?
Everyone has experienced stress in their life. In fact, you may be feeling stressed out right this moment (hello, 2021). We all know that stress affects so many aspects of our lives, like sleep, focus, and our overall mental and physical health. And while you feel as if you can manage stress to improve those areas, did you know that stress has a sneaky way of creeping in and disrupting your sex drive too?
Dr. Vikki Petersen, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Chiropractor, and Functional Medicine doctor, emphasizes how stress can drastically affect your sex hormones and decrease your libido.
The stress response is a powerful reaction that you possess to assist you in escaping a life-and-death situation. Adrenaline and stress hormones pump more blood through your heart which in turn provides more blood to your muscles, allowing you to be stronger and faster than you usually are. In our current society, stress hormones are less about perceived physical danger and more associated with job worries, financial woes, and relationship issues. Such stress, especially when chronic, can have profoundly negative effects on your hormonal and emotional balance. The mechanism involves shunting away from making sex hormones in order to provide adequate stress hormones. The result can be moodiness, brain fog, anxiety, depression, loss of libido.
Here are 3 ways that you can work to boost your sex hormones and increase your libido when feeling overwhelmed and stressed out:
Sleep is your friend
When you are in the midst of heavy stress, your fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) is in overdrive and it can be difficult to turn it off adequately so that you can fully embrace your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to rest and repair. It may take several days of good sleep hygiene methods to successfully make this shift but it is critical to begin your hormonal rebalance.
Healthy eating habits plus proper hydration
Stress hormones eat up your B vitamins and your energy levels falter as a result. Your body’s response to failing cellular energy is to crave a “quick fix” and that typically results in intense sugar and caffeine cravings. The cravings are intense but you need to ignore them and instead reach for real food, healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, which will provide the needed nutrients to regain your natural energy balance. Giving in to the sugar cravings will just perpetuate the imbalance of sex hormones and you will be stuck in the craving, stress cycle.
Institute some “me” time
There is no right or wrong answer to what provides, for you, that needed break from your life’s stressors. You’ll know you’ve found it when you begin to feel more creative, your problems seem less overwhelming, and your sex drive returns. This doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to have a daily “mini-me” break of at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a good book, sitting at your favorite coffee house, or walking on the beach (exercise is also great for libido), be selfish with your “me” time and you will start to see the benefits in your hormone balance.
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