Women’s Hijacked Health During and Beyond the Pandemic
The Dire Consequences Of Chronic Stress On the Heart
The publication of my wellness book in 2019 The Pause to Relax Ladies for Robust Heart Health was written as a guidebook for women to pay attention to stress and lifestyle choices in regard to heart disease. The health tips are still relevant today, but the current research on women’s health coming out of the pandemic is horrifying and much worse now.
My sense of urgency to educate is even higher now as women are dying of “stress induced cardiomyopathy” with higher rates of heart attacks and strokes, especially in younger women, says the Mayo Clinic. “Stress by itself can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and sometimes even trigger a heart attack” states Dr. Guerrero. Raising awareness for women is a priority she further mentions.
Chronic and unpredictable stress, during the pandemic was detrimental to the health and welfare of women, wearing the many new hats, as teacher/homeschooler, remote employee, caretaker, cook, all detracting from self-care. Life became an insidious roller coaster of emotions and reactions as work/home life collided. The social isolation, exhaustion and high psychological stress impacted sleep, one pinnacle of balanced health.
Prevention vs. reactive care is now needed to optimize wellness outcomes, and activate relaxation responses to quiet the sympathetic and engage the parasympathetic nervous system. They are designed to work beautifully together, to balance like a see-saw. The SNS is the fight-flight-freeze response and triggers chemical shifts like increasing cortisol, the stress hormone, to handle the situation. Then return to normal. Whereas the PSNS is our rest, digest and calming component. The disconnect and ill health happens when we are stuck in SNS override, and rarely engage the PSNS.
Tools To Access Calm
Activate the Vagus Nerve, the longest nerve in the body from abdomen through organs, to brain and your master switch for inflammation. Breathing into the belly, then chest through the nose, exhale AHH or HMM with lips together sends the signal that reduces cortisol. This lowers blood pressure, and quiets the mind. Ending a shower with cold water on the neck, meditating daily, and humming, all engage this healing nerve.
- Massage therapy with aromatherapy offers relaxation and peace, lowering anxiety.
- Yin Yoga downshifts your busy pace while being present and grounded.
- Chiropractic is a holistic hands-on spinal treatment to support the entire central nervous system.
- Deep, restorative sleeping in cool darkness, with lavender or cedarwood oils.
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