Anxiety Archives - Balm Natural Health

Hot flush or power surge?

Posted by | Anxiety, Balm Blog, Blog, Hot Flush, Insomnia, Menopause, Naturopathy, Physical stresses, Sleep, Weight Gain | No Comments

Some months ago, before the whole COVID situation took over our lives, I wrote a blog on Menopause and why some women breeze through it while others suffer terrible symptoms.

I promised my next blog would be all about the hot flush and so finally here it is.

It is one of the most troublesome and common symptoms of menopause. Some women report just a few mild flushes per week while others report debilitating extreme flushes every hour. The natural drop in oestrogen at this time contributes to this symptom but is not the only cause.

What is a hot flush?

The hot flush is the body’s way of quickly lowering the body’s core temperature when it senses that the body has become overheated. Blood vessels near the skins surface expand (or vasodilate) allowing that excess heat to escape from the body via the skin. So why are menopausal women’s bodies overheating so much?

The hypothalamus in the brain acts like a thermostat, keeping body temperature to within a particular temperature range. When the body’s temperature falls outside this range, it will bring in mechanisms to either heat or cool the body to bring it back within the range. For women who suffer regular hot flushes, it seems this temperature range is narrowed meaning the body is more likely to fall outside of the acceptable range, causing the body to think it is overheating.

Why does the thermostat narrow?

The lowered oestrogen levels which go hand in hand with menopause are partially to blame for this temperature thermostat narrowing, however, levels of other types of body chemicals are also involved. For example, a neurotransmitter called GABA is important for sleep and feeling relaxed. This can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter important for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. This can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

DHEA is produced by the adrenals and can be converted to oestrogen in the tissues of the body.  This too can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

Stress

There is one major thing that can cause all of these things to be depleted in the body and that is stress. Stress also raises the level of cortisol in the body, otherwise known as the stress hormone. And you guessed it, high cortisol also narrows this thermostat range. This explains why women who are stressed often experience more severe hot flush symptoms.

Controlling stress is key

One of the best things you can do to control your hot flushes is therefore lowering or managing your stress level. There are so many physical techniques and lifestyle adjustments you can make which can make a huge difference here. There are also a lot of beautiful herbs and nutritional supplements which can help the body cope with stress and raise the levels of GABA, serotonin, DHEA and even oestrogen, while helping lower cortisol.

Click here for more information on how naturopathy can help with all of your menopause symptoms.

Lockdown Stress and Anxiety

Posted by | Anxiety, Balm Blog, Lockdown, Naturopathy, Sleep, Social isolation | No Comments

Just when we thought we were beginning to head back to some sort of new normal, here we are back in lockdown again.  How you dealt with lockdown back in March doesn’t necessarily predict how you will deal with it now. The first time around it was kind of novel and we watched in horrified fascination as we seemed to fare so much better than many other countries around the world. Then restrictions were relaxed and we breathed a sigh of relief as we were able to slowly get back to seeing our loved ones, using the gym and going out for dinner again.

This time people may be feeling a real sense of going backwards and worried that this may become a recurring pattern. Some people were already deeply concerned about their job and financial security. Others were simply hanging out for their winter holiday in the sun which is just not going to happen now.

Stress Tolerance

The ability to tolerate stress varies from person to person. We all have our own coping mechanisms. However, often these are negative behavioural patterns which might numb the feelings for a short time but are usually more harmful in the long term. This includes things like smoking, drinking alcohol and binging snack foods in front of the television. The body will try to deal with some of your stress during sleep. Interestingly there has emerged a phenomenon called COVID-19 dreams. When there is an increase in the complexity of life’s problems there is often an accompanying increase in vividness and clarity of dreams.

Sometimes these coping mechanisms can seem to get you through short term stress, but when the stress level begins to exceed your tolerance level, real problems can arise.  Stress has physical consequences for the body. It disrupts just about every system in the body. It can affect your heart function and blood pressure, lower immunity, increase allergy, decrease digestion producing IBS, cause insomnia and upset your hormonal balance. It also can have a major impact on your mood leading to irritability, angry outbursts, anxiety and depression.

Physical Brain Changes

Interestingly, over time, long term stress and worry can cause physical changes in your brain structure which sets you up for anxiety to become your “go to state”. Have a listen to my 3 minute video on how this phenomenon can impact your brain and your mood.

What Can You Do?

There are so many beautiful herbs, minerals and vitamins which can make a huge difference to the way you feel. They calm and soothe the nervous system, promote more restful sleep and help the body produce those feel good neurotransmitters.  There is also a lot you can do yourself to help the body cope with and combat stress. I challenge you to choose one of the following to do everyday for the next week and see how you feel.

  1. Take 5 minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed and do some deep breathing, concentrating on making the out breath longer than the in breath.
  2. Download a meditation app (there are so many options available) and try 5 minutes of guided meditation every day. Eg Calm or Smiling Mind
  3. Take a nice long hot relaxing bubble bath
  4. Go for a half an hour walk in a nearby park if you have one and try to get as much exposure to nature and sunshine as you can.
  5. If you are always tired and feel you don’t get enough sleep, go to bed half an hour earlier
  6. Reach out to someone in your life to connect to. Maybe you haven’t spoken to them for a while. Give them a call or set up a Zoom chat to reconnect.

Free Consult during lockdownWhile Melbourne is in lockdown I’m offering anyone who needs help a 25 minute, FREE, Lockdown Stress and Immune Resilience consult. The consult can be held online or in person. I’ll come up with 3 things for you to boost your immune health as well as some particular techniques and exercises you can do to bolster your mindset and help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. Click here to book yourself in online.