Updated: May 11, 2020
Where ever you may be, take a moment and just BREATHE.
Mental health plays a critical role in body literacy and uterine health. In fact, stress and anxiety can lead to abnormal patterns within the menstrual cycle. Some women experience prolonged periods, extreme cases of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) that is rooted in emotional and psychological conditions.
Studies show that fibroids and other uterine conditions are linked to psychological stressors such as depression and anxiety.
Depression is not only the most common women's mental health problem but it appears to be more persistent in women than in men (World Health Organization).
Unipolar depression is predicted to be the second leading cause of global disability burden in 2020 and is twice as common in women.
1 in 7 women may experience postpartum (PPD) depression within a year after giving birth.
A recent study published by The Journal of American Menopause Society examined the correlation between a higher rate of mental illness amongst women who have had the uterus surgically removed. Also, there are many clinical studies proving stress can cause infertility as well as birth complications.
The 2020 theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is "Be Kind To Your Mind," and the timing could not have been more appropriate to discuss how we can take care of our mind, body, and womb. Adrienne Brown, a Licensed Professional Counselor from Houston Relationship Therapy, shared a few practical steps on how you can overcome stress and anxiety.
"The Unknown Factor is heightened due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For many of us, our everyday life as we know it has been disrupted. Your feelings are valid [...] I believe we have to feel so we can heal." - Adrienne Brown, LPC
THE POWER OF MINDFULNESS
Being more mindful allows you to have a baseline of out how your body is responding to anxiety and stress. Are you shallow breathing or deep breathing? Keeping a journal of how you're breathing can be a reference to practicing meditation and relaxation techniques.
THE FIVE SENSES
Sight: Be fully aware of your environment and dedicate time to spend outdoors. Whether it's a quick step onto the patio or taking a walk, natural sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D. If there's anything that is not positively feeding your spirit, let it go. With media and propaganda at an all-time high, it is necessary to unplug and unwind. Give yourself a cut-off time to disconnect with the digital world, and reconnect from within.
Hearing: Meditation podcasts and virtual therapy sessions are becoming more common and we are here for it! When you rise in the morning and when you sleep at night, fill your mind with affirmations. Even though we can't physically be with the ones we love, speaking to our family and friends is crucial during this time to avoid feeling isolated or alone. White noise is also a good technique to drown out those self-inflicting negative thoughts.
Touch: Our bodies naturally react to physical touch, so it is crucial to remain physically active. Create a routine to take walks, attend virtual dance sessions, or yoga classes. Physical activity lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Remember that your brain is also a sexual organ, and stress can cause a strain in sex and intimacy. Have you spent more time with your spouse? Connect with your partner by discovering new ways to be intimate. CBD lubricants can be used to intensify sexual arousal and decrease pelvic pain.
Smell: Certain fragrances and aromas can take us to a place in our minds that reminds us of joyous occasions and special memories. Give in to those positive thoughts by lighting candles or burning incense.
Taste: Minimizing processed foods and increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Food is an essential contributor to the brain and hormonal function. Our body needs Omega 3, Folic Acid, Zinc, Magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals that are the building blocks for cognitive function. What we eat has been clinically linked to depression, stress, and anxiety. These powerful herbs are known to help reduce levels of stress:
As you become more aware during times of uncertainty, take heed to these practical steps. Hold your head high, sis - and don't be ashamed to seek professional help. Having conversations that encompass mental health, therapy, and the history of psychological conditions' correlation to uterine health is how we start the healing process. Whether you are young or mature, we all have a story to share of how we've dealt with stress. Will you share yours?
Book Recommendation: The Women's Brain Book: The Neuroscience of health, hormones, and happiness.