What's the connection between stress and endometriosis?
So what’s the link between stress and endometriosis?
Have you been hearing more and more about how managing stress can play a key role in decreasing inflammation in your body, thus leading to less pain?
During a stressful situation your adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate, increase blood pressure, and increase sugar sources which are converted into extra energy supplies and substances which repair tissues. Other body functions like digestion are turned off and immune function is altered. These are all normal responses to a perceived threat or stress.
However, when an individual remains in this stressful state of mind for a long period of time (chronic stress), the excess circulating stress hormones in the body can wreak havoc on your body and mind. Chronic stress and increased stress hormones circulating in the body can affect your bowel and bladder function, increase inflammation, and increase pain levels.
Stress can cause dysbiosis which is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. This imbalance in the gut can lead to inflammation. Dysbiosis can increase estrogen in the system and since endometriosis is driven by estrogen, this is problematic. Since gut health is associated with brain health and vice versa it plays a role in managing stress responses.
Stress is correlated with increased development of nerve fibers, thus an increase in pain. Pain causes stress and stress can increase pain levels; a cycle ensues.
So what can I do?
There are simple things you can do today to begin managing high levels of stress in your life.
First of all, try to get more quality sleep at night. Sleep is restorative. Your brain and body need good quality sleep to restore, rest, and heal. Try some of these tips to help you gain quality sleep at night:
Turning off electronic devices an hour or two before bed time
Journaling your thoughts before laying down or meditating/breathing exercises
Stop drinking fluids an hour or two before bed
Avoid stressful conversations before bed
Mute or turn on Do Not Disturb on your phone to minimize distractions at night
Use white noise or a fan to help you sleep
Take a shower/bath before going to bed
Making healthy choices in what you eat also can help combat stress. Remember, how I mentioned earlier that there is a correlation between gut health and brain health? Make sure you have a healthy gut by avoiding excess sugars, junk food, and processed foods. Try by adding just one healthy snack into your day and one more glass of water. Also, make time to sit down and eat your meals, instead of being on the go.
Another great way to alleviate stress is to get up and move. Call it movement or call it exercise. Just give your body a chance to burn calories, decrease stress hormones, and increase release of endorphins. Endorphin-release gives you that natural feeling of euphoria that helps you cope and relax better. Even if you don’t have a lot of time in your schedule, start with just 15-20 minutes a few days a week. Going for a walk and getting some sun can go a long way. Over time try to pick up your pace. Add in some of your favorite music to sing-along to for more motivation.
Seek out help
Sometimes no matter what we try on our own we realize we can not manage our stress or anxiety on our own. It’s great to come to this realization because then you can reach out for help. Sometimes we just need advice or someone to talk to like a mentor or life coach. Other times we need to deal with deeply rooted issues and may need the help of counselors, psychologists, sex therapists, or other trained professionals.
Managing stress levels will optimize your overall health and improve your ability to manage pain and improve natural healing. At The Fit Pelvis, we realize that your healing journey is sometimes dependent on you learning the right strategies to quiet your mind and body through breathing, mindfulness, and body scanning. If you are dealing with endometriosis pain and need to learn strategies to manage your stress levels, we can help. Schedule a Discovery Call with Katy or Miranda at The Fit Pelvis to discuss how physical therapy can help you manage your pain.