Words by Dr Cris Beer It can be hard being a mummy and finding the time to look after ourselves. Many a time we can feel ragged and worn out. Often unfortunately we don’t realise what effect mummy stress is having on our bodies let alone knowing what to do about it. So what are some signs that we may be experiencing mummy stress and what can we do to prevent these health consequences?
- Weight gain and inability to lose weight
- Slower metabolism
- Recurrent headaches
- Sleep problems
- Abdominal pains and digestion problems
- Sugar cravings
- Hair loss and/or dry hair
- Recurrent infections
- Fluid retention
- Low mood and irritability
Keep in mind that if we ignore the warning signs and keep pushing ourselves we can end up with something called adrenal fatigue (otherwise known as burnout or chronic fatigue). This condition typically presents with all the above symptoms but a lot worse in severity. We will feel ‘flat’ all day and awake tired despite getting plenty of sleep. So what are some ways that we can avoid adrenal fatigue? 1. Recognise our individual limits when it comes to stress and put measures in place to avoid adrenal fatigue and burnout. This may involve enlisting the help of family and friends on occasion in order to have time for ourselves. 2. Try as best we can to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Broken sleep is not quality sleep. The higher our stress hormone levels the less quality sleep we will get. Typically when stress hormone levels are high we will wake between 1-3am. 3. Eat regular, healthy meals to stabilise our blood sugar levels. Preferably we should choose unprocessed, fresh foods and drinking plenty of water. 4. Make time for some physical activity on most days per week. 5. Get some sunshine to boost vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that vitamin D is important for a host of health reasons including bone health. Additionally, getting outdoors at sunrise and sunset has the added benefit of boosting our happy hormone Serotonin. 6. Look after our health by having regular health checks by our local doctor. I find plenty of women are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals just because of not having the time to eat properly. Keep in mind that by seeing an integrative GP your nutritional needs can be optimised. On this latter point seeing an integrative GP has the benefit of being looked after by a doctor with knowledge in the latest evidence-based and safe natural medicine and standard medicine approaches. By undertaking some simple testing your health needs can be identified, and the effects of mummy stress managed and/or prevented. This will leave you feeling the best you’ve felt in years which has the flow-on benefit for the entire family. Because as we know when mummy is happy, everyone is happy!