If you're dealing with PCOS, here are four easy ways to relieve chronic stress coming from your job, relationships, health problems, finances, lack of self-esteem, or other aspects of your personal circumstances.
When you're under stress, do you notice that your breathing becoming more shallow and rapid?
When you notice this happening, wherever you are, stop what you're doing for a moment and take some slow, deep breaths.
If you can spare five or ten minutes, find a quiet place and start a breathing meditation. A breathing meditation is a fantastic way to calm yourself and make your stress go away.
Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Perhaps you can sit in a comfortable chair or lie down if convenient. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and safe so that you can focus entirely on your breathing.
Once you're found your spot and feel comfortable, close your eyes.
Start to notice your breathing. The purpose of this is to increase your self-awareness and get in touch with your breathing rhythm. Most of the time, we are so busy or stressed that we are totally unaware of how we're breathing.
Notice the air filling your lungs. Then notice as you breathe out and the air leaves your lungs.
Repeat the process of noticing your breath.
As you do this, you'll find thoughts start to come up. They might be about work, family, friends, or anything at all. It doesn't matter. It's all part of the process and it's perfectly normal to continue to have stray thoughts while meditating.
When these thoughts come up, let them drift out with your next breath and bring your mind back to focusing on your breathing.
Continue for as long as you wish.
Women who are long-term practitioners of Transcendental Meditation have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and appear to have less risk of heart disease.
Meditation also has been shown to reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including lower blood pressure and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome has many similarities to polycystic ovary syndrome.
Hypnotic suggestion is another possible way to reduce your stress level. Hypnosis gives your mind an opportunity to be receptive to new ideas and solutions.
It's very easy to do, simply by listening to a CD.
Here's a good example of a hypnosis CD by Dr. Randy Gilchrest.
There are lots of other things you can do to reduce stress. The Natural Diet Solution e-book has a chapter on stress that has a long list of other stress-reduction techniques.
Conflict is unavoidable. It's part of life.
The challenge is how we handle it. If you can find a way to successfully handle conflict, you will reduce the chronic stress that worsens PCOS symptoms.
Here are 12 ways to deal more skillfully with conflict.
1) Develop a win/win intention.
We live in a competitive culture. We want to "win". But in the competitive sense when someone wins, others lose. If one is right then the other is wrong. Being "right" does not create the best outcome. Start thinking about how good it would feel if you both could win.
2) Notice defensive behavior.
How? The first step is awareness. Observe the signs in yourself, and notice when they happen. Has your breathing become rapid and shallow? Do you feel a tightness in your stomach? Listen and be aware of your emotional responses.
Practice reframing the situation so you reduce the level of stress you're experiencing. When conflict arises, acknowledge your differences (if you must) and then move on to the things you DO agree on. Look for a common goal.
3) Focus on the present.
Step out of your past issues and focus on the issue at hand. Attempt to solve the problem and move on to create a new future together.
4) Evaluate the behavior, not the person.
"I feel it was inconsiderate for you to show up 90 minutes late without calling," is less damaging to the relationship than, "You are an inconsiderate jerk!" Explain your feeling further "I get worried when you don't call, and then I get upset."
5) Be specific.
It's not useful to generalize and tell someone "you never listen to me!" Be specific and explain how you feel, "I feel frustrated when you interrupted me just now. It's important to me that you understand how I feel."
6) Admit your role.
If you have contributed to the problem, admit it. You may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the conflict. Own it, if that is the case.
7) Focus on a solution.
Listen non-judgmentally and without criticism. Focus on listening and understanding. Be creative enough to find a win/win solution for both of you. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
8) Use "I" messages.
"You" statements cause the other person to become defensive. A "you" message is often perceived as an invitation to fight. "You are never on time!"
You could say: "I've mentioned your lateness a few times to you. I become anxious when you are late. I begin to feel that you don't value our time together." A well-expressed "I" message is not judgmental; it just expresses how you feel.
9) Don't infer intention.
"You did that because..." "You did that on purpose..." If you are interested in knowing another's intention, just ask.
10) Set aside judgment.
Judgments shut down communication. Being judgmental prevents a win/win solution.
Clarify and confirm what you heard and make sure you understand it. "So what I heard you say is..." "Let me make sure I understand you correctly, you got home with the groceries before you realized you forgot to get milk." "I'm not sure I understand you correctly; this is how I am interpreting what you said".
12) Have a sense of timing.
Know when to discuss things. Be intuitive. Know when the right time is to deal with conflict. Sometimes emotions (yours or others) can impair good communication and collaboration. Sometimes it's important to cool down first. Develop a sixth sense about timing.
Conflict is a rich source of opportunity when we let it be so. Instead of shying away from conflict and stuffing your feelings, embrace the rewards that a well-handled conflict can bring. The reduced stress will help you balance your hormones and thus lessen your PCOS problems.
PCOS can seem pretty heavy and depressing at times, right? Sometimes, we have a feeling of futility when we try a zillion different things and nothing seems to produce the results we're looking for.
What can we do with this? Well, one thing we can do is laugh about it. Yes, laugh!
I don't know about you, but I always feel much better after having a good laugh about something. It seems to relieve the grimness and heaviness of even the worst situations.
Medical research has proven that laughter has physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. For example, laughter can help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol damages your body and increases belly fat.
Another benefit of laughter is that it costs nothing and has no side effects!
So have you laughed today? Did you laugh yesterday?
The therapeutic effectiveness of laughter result from spontaneous laughter (triggered by external stimuli or positive emotions) and by self-induced laughter (triggered by yourself at will), both occurring with or without humor.
The brain cannot distinguish between these types of laughter so it doesn't matter what you do to laugh. It doesn't matter how or why you laugh. The important thing is to just laugh.
Watch a funny movie or read a humorous book. Have someone tell you a joke or funny story. Play an amusing game with someone.
You don't necessarily need humor to laugh. You can laugh by intention. For example, you might try "laughter yoga", a group exercise where you simulate laughter with eye contact and childlike playfulness, which soon turns into real and contagious laughter. Maybe there is a local laughter yoga group that you could join.
When's the last time you had a good laugh?
Actually, it's an important question. Dealing with PCOS-related problems is not a lot of fun. Stress and depression can occasionally intrude into your daily life. Weight loss difficulties, hair problems, acne or inability to become pregnant may also weigh upon you.
In spite of it all, please make sure to have some fun. Do something to make you laugh or be with people who make you laugh and feel good.
Laughter provides a basketful of benefits. It increases your energy level, which helps you to burn off excess calories. It lowers your blood sugar (a problem for many PCOS women). It strengthens your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, improves circulation, reduces stress, and create pleasurable brain chemicals (endophins).
Polycystic ovary syndrome is not something that can be taken care of effectively over the long term with physical therapies alone, such as metformin or birth control pills.
The mental and emotional component of this disorder also plays a central role. Your emotions create hormones and biochemical messages that can help you -- or harm you.
Please take time today to have a good laugh. Make it a daily habit. Better yet, find a reason to laugh several times a day -- the more, the better.
Stressors a Big Problem for PCOS
Dr. Amy Day: How to Manage It
Overcome Obstacles to a Better Life
Natural Therapies Page
Walton KG et al, Lowering cortisol and CVD risk in postmenopausal women: a pilot study using the Transcendental Meditation program, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:211-5
Paul-Labrador M et al, Effects of a randomized controlled trial of transcendental meditation on components of the metabolic syndrome in subjects with coronary heart disease, Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jun 12;166(11):1218-24
Buchowski MS et al Energy expenditure of genuine laughter, Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Jan;31(1):131-7
Hayashi K et al Laughter lowered the increase in postprandial blood glucose, Diabetes Care. 2003 May;26(5):1651-2
Mora-Ripoll R, The therapeutic value of laughter in medicine, Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Nov-Dec;16(6):56-64.
Shahidi M et al, Laughter yoga versus group exercise program in elderly depressed women: a randomized controlled trial, Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;26(3):322-7.
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