Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and stress form a vicious circle where stress and anxiety can worsen PCOS and women with PCOS have higher levels of stress hormones thus stress management is crucial for individuals with PCOS. With PCOS, it is important to understand how episodes of anxiety and elevated stress levels are related to biological reasons and hormonal fluctuations stemming from PCOS.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Astha Dayal, Lead Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, asserted that stress management is a personal journey but 5 tips could be helpful –
1. Regular Exercise: Any form of dedicated regular exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, dancing or yoga can help improve mood & reduce stress by releasing endorphins.
2. Healthy Diet: A diet low in refined carbohydrates and high in whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates helps reduce stress, anxiety and improves the hormonal imbalance in PCOS. Avoiding alcohol, smoking, excess caffeine improves overall health.
3. Mindfulness and Meditation: Meditation or deep breathing exercises promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Engaging in hobbies helps one relax and unwind.
4. Adequate Sleep: At Least 6-8 hours of timely, adequate, quality sleep can improve stress and PCOS symptoms. Establish a regular sleep routine and create a comfortable sleep environment.
5. Communication and Support: One shouldn’t hesitate to seek support if suffering from stress and anxiety. Connecting with friends, family or support groups or taking help from mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors who can help you develop coping strategies and provide emotional support. Sometimes medication under supervision of a psychiatrist may be necessary.
Sanchita Agrawal, Licensed Clinical Psychologist at DocVita, said, “The physical changes accompanying PCOS, such as weight gain and excessive body hair, can profoundly influence our mental well-being. One may develop a negative perception of their body, contributing to anxiety and impacting lifestyle choices. They may avoid going out, stop wearing certain clothes, and even restrict their social life. All these factors clubbed together can add to the stress.”
To effectively manage heightened stress associated with PCOS, he suggested incorporating the following key practices –
- Exercise: Regular physical activity, even in short bursts, not only aids in weight regulation but also triggers the release of endorphins, promoting an improved emotional state.
- Mindfulness: Techniques like paced breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and various forms of pranayama enhance respiratory control, alleviating anxiety-related breathing difficulties.
- Diet: Given PCOS’s association with insulin dysregulation, adopting a diet that avoids sugar spikes is crucial for overall well-being.
- Sleep Hygiene: Cultivate a calming sleep environment through practices like taking a hot shower, introducing relaxing aromas and maintaining a clutter-free bed dedicated solely to sleep.
- Open Conversations: Engage in transparent discussions about the impact of PCOS on daily life with loved ones, colleagues, and healthcare professionals. This openness fosters understanding and establishes a supportive network to lean on during challenging times.
By integrating these practices, one can proactively manage stress associated with PCOS, fostering holistic well-being and a positive mindset.