In today's economy where people are struggling to keep their homes, their jobs, and just survive, stress is becoming crushing. There is less laughter, more fights, and relationships suffer on every level. The kids feel it too, even though you may try to hide it. It's hard to keep hardship from the children, when they have eaten macaroni and cheese all week, because there is nothing else left in the house. I was there, as a single mother many years ago. I kept a roof over the kid's heads by the grace of God. It's hard to keep a healthy relationship when the world seems to be crashing down around you. The relationship between couples is fragile, even in good economic times. You need to understand how stress is affecting your hormones and creating havoc in your relationship. Increased stress and excessive Cortisol production affects every area of life from energy levels to hormone balance, weightgain, and sex drive.
How stress, excessive cortisol, and hormones affect women's sex drive and health.
Stress creates problems in the whole hormonal balance. Women have a complicated hormonal system involving testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and thyroid.
During stress, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels drop and Cortisol is elevated to unhealthy levels; all these hormonal changes impact the menstrual cycle where it may become irregular or stop completely. The imbalance of these hormones causes emotions to go crazy. You may find yourself crying, angry, and depressed with zero desire for sex or intimacy.
Stress also disrupts thyroid function which affects every cell and function of the body. The thyroid, which is your most important endocrine gland, is severely affected by stress and emotion. Women with hypothyroid function often have no sex drive. Thyroid function also affects hair and skin quality. That is why during stress, women will turn gray faster or start losing hair. Thyroid function affects sexual drive, weight gain, emotions, metabolism, immunity, and thousands of other body processes.
The adrenal glands are also affected by stress and hormonal disruption. Testosterone is produced in part, in the women's adrenal glands. Stress that causes increased Cortisol, both lower testosterone output. You become severely fatigued, out of sorts, cranky and definitely are not in the mood for sex.
Stress leads to overeating which causes more problems throughout the body.
How Stress and hormones affect the male sex drive:
A male's hormonal system is much simpler. When he is under too much stress, his testosterone levels fall dramatically. This is due to the fact that his Cortisol hormone levels rise with stress. Elevated Cortisol levels do several things to kill a male's sex drive. Cortisol tells the body to stop producing pre-hormone compounds that are used to produce testosterone, as well as, block the testicles response to testosterone. This reduction in testosterone leads to a lack of sex drive. It has been shown than Olympic athletes often have low testosterone, low sperm counts, and reduced sex drive because of elevated Cortisol and lowered testosterone production caused from intense athletic performance.
Lifestyle steps that relieve stress, lower cortisol production, increase your sex drive, and create hormonal balance:
Give up the junk food, fast food, and excessive caffeine: Excessive caffeine stresses out the adrenals and plays havoc with hormones, increasing Cortisol production. Moving toward a healthier diet will benefit your health, your energy, your hormones, and sex drive.
Just Say NO! : Many people fill their plate so full, they cannot do any of it well. They have trouble saying no. They may be doing 10 jobs for their volunteer group, then say yes to 10 more. Learn to say, "I can't help in this capacity, but perhaps next time". If you don't stop over-extending yourself, sooner or later your work and relationships will suffer.
Just Say Yes, to Sex: Sex reduces stress and Cortisol production. If you have gotten into a sexless relationship, you need to start having sex, even when you are not in the mood. Start with a walk together, talking together, watching a movie side by side on the couch, touch each other, just start the intimacy and making love will follow. Sex needs to be restarted to generate a sex drive. Stop giving excuses and just do it. I say this having gone through this. Changing your attitude toward sex is the first step to having healthy sex where you look forward to it. It is one sure cure for insomnia and sleep problems. Sex can have the side effect of improving communication in your relationship, by decreasing sexual frustration. Improved communication decreases stress.
Turn Your Cell phone and E-mail Off: Leave your cell phone behind when you can. You need to give your mind some R and R. Your cell phone and email are a constant stress. Most of us answer the phone and email more often than necessary. When you are with your loved ones, only answer the phone when it's important. I have been with friends who answer the phone every 5 minutes. Unless it's important, this is rude to the person you're with and it affects closeness and communication. Turn off the computer, including reading your emails. Shut down facebook and other social media.
Do something mindless: When doing intense work, take a break every hour. Those breaks can be utilized to recharge your mind. Suggestions might be to read something fun or inspirational, close your eyes in a short meditation, or perform some stretches to get the blood circulating. When you give your mind a break, you often are more productive the rest of the day.
Take your lunch break: Many people do not take their lunch break, and that is a mistake. Take a break, even only for a few minutes. That pause gives you time to rest your brain, and recharge both your thinking and energy level. Don't stay in your work space, leave the area or building, take a walk or sit out in the sun for a few minutes. You will feel better and perform better the rest of the day.
Take a day of rest: I know taking a whole day off may be impossible for moms and many people who are working two jobs, but try. If you can't take a whole day off, opt for half a day or an hour or two. If you don't find time to rest, the body will eventually give you no choice. Ask your mom, good friend, or neighbor to keep the kids for the day. Offer to do the same for her, later. So many health complaints are due to overwork and inadequate rest.
Learn to delegate responsibility: This applies both at work and at home. Perhaps you need to have your kids or husband do more to help or you. Perhaps you need to ask for help from family. Delegate some of the chores you are doing, to others. Your mate needs help to know what they should do. Give your mate suggestions on how best they can help you. Let your husband or kids cook dinner at times. You may cook better, but giving them the apron, gives you a break. Kids can maintain the house once they get old enough to dust and handle the vacuum cleaner. My mother worked long hours and at an early age I did most of the housework to help her. I was only 8 years old but I did it. Many children do not have enough chores to do at home. Chores teach them responsibility and what life is about.
Walk, Run, Exercise, or Bike with Your Friends or Spouse: Exercise reduces stress and Cortisol levels and gives both you and your mate a great way to spend time together.
Get away for the weekend: It has been shown by research that people on vacation have lower stress and Cortisol levels. Go camping or rent a cabin somewhere beautiful where there is no Internet service. Give you and your computer a rest for a day or two. Sometimes, all it takes is some quality time together to renew your love and intimacy.
Get a soothing back massage: Massage therapy has been shown by a number of research studies to reduce Cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, and anxiety significantly. If you can't afford to get a professional massage, learn to give each other one. There are tapes and videos that demonstrate the art. Adding music, candles, and warm essential oils will go a long way toward making the experience fun.
Take a warm bath: Japanese research has shown that a warm, relaxing bath reduces Cortisol levels. In Japan they have bath houses, where men bathe in a group for relaxation. Research shows it works. Women should lock the bathroom door, draw a warm bath, light some candles, add some essential oils, and just rest. This should not be a treat but a daily ritual to preserve sanity in a crazy world. Once you have had your time alone to relax, ask your mate to join you. You might be surprised at the results.
Hang out with your furry family member: Research has shown that pet therapy reduces stress and Cortisol levels. That is how pet therapy began. They find taking dogs into nursing homes or children's hospitals reduce stress, create smiles and laughter, and reduce pain, depression, and anxiety. Use the time to exercise your pet, as a time to walk together as a couple and talk. No phones, no computer, and no chores.
Garden away your stress: When I am stressed, I head for my garden and chickens. It calms me down and gives me a whole new outlook on the day. It uses calories and is good exercise as well.
Listen to your favorite music: The old saying that music tames the savage beast is pretty accurate. Scientists have shown that music uplifts the mind, calms stress and reduces Cortisol levels. It can also be stimulating to your creativity.
Pray: Scientific research is proving that prayer and spiritual retreats reduce Cortisol, lower blood pressure, and improve immunity. People who pray and are spiritual have fewer complications after surgery, and recover quicker. Couples who make a daily practice of praying together, praying for each other, and those in their family circle, have a closer bond and argue less.
It's up to you to take these suggestions and put them into practice in your life. To attain renewed health, vitality, and revamp your sex life, it is paramount to start a stress reduction program today.
Copyright: Kate Freer, the Herbladyisin All rights are protected on this article. You do not have permission to use this article or its contents without my express permission
Disclaimer: The FDA and AMA have not approved the contents of this article. This article is for education only. It is not meant to be used to prevent, treat, or prescribe for any illness. Get the permission from your doctor for any supplement that you take. There are interactions between herbs and drugs so be aware of that.
Published by Kate Freer
Master Herbalist, Medical Researcher, and Freelance Writer.
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