Stress, Sex, Sleep, and Self-Care. Ever notice how interwoven these are when it comes to our health?
The topic started when my friend Camille Nisich, Stress & Sleep Coach, interviewed me on her Sunday morning Facebook LIVE show, “Wake-up with Camille.” We were specifically talking about menopause but the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that these four things were topics for more than just menopause; they were also part of the conversation about pre-menopause, peri-menopause, PMS, and all areas of hormone health.
As I dove even deeper, I realized it’s even more universal than that. Stress, sex, sleep and self-care combine and work together to create balance in health and wellness for most people, not just the hormonally challenged.
Let’s take a closer look.
Stress arrives in our life in any way possible. We recognize the major life events that cause stress: the death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. But do we recognize the cumulative build-up of stress? And do we know how to reduce or release it?
I believe that stress is the number one factor leading to fatigue, burnout, illness, and disease. I also believe that we intuitively know how bad it is. On a scale of one to 10, where one is relaxed and low stress and ten is high stress, where are you? Be honest. And regardless of your answer, decide today to take steps to release and lower it before your body or life forces you to.
For some tips to reduce stress be sure to check out these previous blog posts:
Sex can be a healthy release and stress reducer, but it sometimes requires extra communication and care. Hormonal fluctuations can bring physical, emotional and psychological challenges. Grace, love, patience, and sense of humor are key. Talk to your partner and your doctor if necessary. Examine whether sexual activity energizes you and wakes you up or relaxes you and helps you sleep. Adjust your time for intimacy accordingly.
I have a theory that when two people have an issue to discuss or resolve, they may approach the situation differently:
- One may want to have sex first before they can relax and communicate openly and efficiently.
- The other may want to communicate first and resolve issues before having sex.
I say, plan to do both! And don’t stress out about the order. Communicate your needs with your partner and yourself and be willing to go for the release first, and then resolve the issues, when your stress levels drop.
I have learned that there are times when my libido does not match that of my husbands. However, I LOVE the closeness that our physical relationship brings. So why would I not want to be an active and enthusiastic participant?
There have also been times during hormonal challenges when my weight goes up and I”m not feeling good in my body. I realize that I am so much more critical of my body than my partner is. Embrace your body, and all it’s been through. It was meant to enjoy and you will get further by loving it than you ever will by hating it.
If you have ever gone a night without sleep, you know how detrimental it can be to your day, week, relationships, work, and LIFE! Go for an extended period of time without sleep and it will wreak absolute havoc! The less you sleep, the more stressed you are. The more stressed you are, the less you sleep.
As an athlete, I know how important sleep is to the recovery process. And I challenge you to think of yourself as an athlete, regardless of whether you play a sport or not. Your sport may simply be the sport of life – being a partner, parent, employee, employer or human being. Be sure to practice self-care and create good habits that are conducive to sleep. Some of my favorites include:
- Reducing caffeine, sugar, and alcohol
- Reduce electronics toward the end of the day
- Plan nights to go to be early, mornings to sleep in, and days to sneak in a nap.
- Practice yoga
- Try chiropractic, massage, or acupuncture
- Exercise earlier in the day
- Use room-darkening shades, cooler sheets (Bamboo!), an eye mask or ear cover, or use a fan to block out noise
Self-care is a universal need with an individual requirement. I know personally that sleep, rest and play are huge components to my well-being and feeling balanced. Exercise plays a part, as does nutrition, meditation, and solitude.
You may require something different, or different levels. Consider what you require in regard to:
- Interaction with friends or family
- Spiritual growth
- Music, writing, art
- Solitude or downtime
My new friend Karina taught me something amazing this week in regard to self-care. I’ve always scheduled my week based on the order of
And in some cases, I do too much of one, not enough of two, and practically no three.
Karina suggested I reverse the order when I plan my schedule focusing on
Wow! How profound! And, exciting. Simple, yes. Easy, maybe not, But I know without a doubt that I want to give it a try. How about you?
So, when you are stressed, know that sex, sleep and self-care can help to lower and release it.
When we practice good self-care, our stress levels drop, our sex life is healthy, and we sleep well.
Just like the cumulative effect of stress can take it toll, so too can the cumulative effect of healthy sex, good sleep, and conscientious self-care!
Enjoyed This Column – needed the reminders.
We all do, Phil!