"What Grown Women DO": Stress, hot flashes, and grown up decisions!




I have really been thinking a lot about this whole stress thing, partly because I am a bit of a nerd and am fascinated by the human body's way of dealing with things that cause stress. Our body actually responds to every stressful event that happens to us. Its how we are made. When we are in stressful situations or environments for a long time, our body's response is almost always negative and harmful. This kind of stress is connected to chronic diseases that we see today like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and others. As a scientist, I find all of this stuff very interesting...

But as a woman...I have a more personal stake in the issue. Let me explain. A couple of years ago I accepted a WONDERFUL opportunity to work on a important, but somewhat sensitive project at work. I am a "starter", so I jumped at the opportunity to help launch this new initiative. I knew that the work would be a little stressful, but hey...I perform better under the gun...at the last minute. I'm your go to girl with the crazy stuff. I live on deadlines. I was ready for the crazy...right? I was so naive...

18 months into the job, I had gained 40 lbs, fought off depression, and had a couple of infections and illnesses that my body struggled to recover from. My body was slowly breaking down while I climbed the ladder of success. I was making more money, but I also had more doctor's bills! It was like having holes in my pockets.

I didn't actually make the connection between my poorly managed stress levels and my poor health until...I started having what I thought were...wait for it ladies...hot flashes. YES...HOT FLASHES!

I thought I was pre-menopausal. I went to the doctor and had a full work up that showed...nothing. Turns out...these "sweaty moments"...were my body's distress signals. I was having anxiety attacks...sweaty...I need a towel AND a change of clothes...anxiety attacks. Yeah...real talk ladies...I ignored all of the other stuff...including the illnesses and weight gain. My body was in distress and waiving the white flag of surrender.

What was a girl to do? I mean, I really liked this job...I didn't want to quit. I actually didn't need to quit. I needed to learn how to manage my stress levels! I needed to change some things about how I lived, worked, and played (or didn't play).

Here are a few things that I have implemented so far that have been VERY helpful:

1. Find an outlet: I..."committed" myself to a new exercise program that included slow, thoughtful exercise like Pilates, Tai-Chi, and a little Yoga. Don't sleep y'all...slow doesn't mean easy. This is probably the most difficult exercise program that I've ever done, mostly because it makes me stay in the moment. You can't do Pilates and think about work at the same time...you will pass out...seriously.


2. Set priorities: I stopped letting everybody else's crisis be mine. I prioritize my stuff and help others out...IF I have the time and energy.

3. Follow Toffee's sleep schedule: My dog Toffee goes to sleep at 8:30 or 9 o'clock...every night...no matter what...even if we have company! I know that she is a dog, but she gets 7-9 hours of every night. I try to do the same.

I'm in the early stages of this thing, so I don't have all the answers...yet! But I will share new ideas for stress management as I figure them out...feel free to do the same. We can grow together and help each other out....cause that's what grown women do!

Love y'all!



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