Stress, Sex, Sleep, Self-Care and Play. Ever notice how interwoven these are when it comes to our health and our quality of life?
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 stress, sleep, self-care and play 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, self-care and play combine and work together to improve our quality of life and create balance in health and wellness for most people, not just the hormonally challenged. They are critical to our emotional and mental health.
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? (otherwise known as chronic stress) And do we know how to reduce or release it?
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.
Supplements can assist in reducing stress. One of my favorites is Ionix Supreme, a nutrient-rich, adaptogenic tonic†. It’s made with natural adaptogens like ashwagandha and rhodiola, and there’s no fake stuff: No artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.
For some additional 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 before relaxing and communicating 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, 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 husband. However, I LOVE the closeness that our physical relationship brings. So why would I not want to be an active and enthusiastic participant?
During hormonal challenges, there have also been times when my weight goes up and I”m not feeling good in my body. I realize I am much more critical of my body than my partner. 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 good quality sleep, you know how detrimental it can be to your day, week, relationships, work, and daily LIFE! Go for an extended period of time without adequate sleep quality, and it will wreak absolute havoc! The less you sleep, the more stressed you are. The more stressed you are, the less you sleep.
We all require a slightly different number of hours of sleep per night. Some need 6 or 7, whereas others require 8 or 9. Experiment to find your sweet spot.
In my book, Wheels to Wellbeing, A Practical Self-Care Guide to Living a More Balanced Life, I devote an entire chapter to sleep, rest and recovery. As an athlete, I know how important sleep is to recovery. And I challenge you to consider yourself an athlete, regardless of whether you play a sport. Your sport may be the sport of life – being a partner, parent, employee, employer or human being. Be sure to practice self-care and create good habits conducive to adequate sleep. Some of my favorites include:
- Reducing caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
- Reduce electronics toward the end of the day.
- Plan nights to go to bed 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.
There are seasons of our lives where sleep requirements change. After my hysterectomy/oophorectomy, I needed much more quantity and quality sleep to heal. If you have a health condition, you may need more.
Heart disease runs in my husband’s family. While he has been an athlete all his life and enjoys a healthy diet, he couldn’t outrun family genetics. As a result of cardiovascular disease, he recently had open heart surgery – a double bypass. Normally he only needs 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night. In the weeks following his surgery, he slept 8 or 9 hours per night and napped once or twice daily.
For additional sleep support, melatonin can be of assistance. My favorite is Renewal Sleep Support™ from Isagenix.
Self-care practices are a universal need with an individual requirement. I know personally that sleep, rest and play are huge components of my well-being and feeling balanced. Exercise plays a part, as do nutrition, meditation, and solitude.
You may require something different or different levels in regard to your own self-care management. Consider what you require regarding:
- Interaction with friends or family
- Spiritual growth
- Music, writing, art
- Solitude or downtime
My new friend Karina taught me something amazing this week about self-care practices. 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 I want to try it. How about you? Are you ready to examine and improve your own self-care practices?
Play and Physical Activity
My undergraduate degree is in recreation, and my physical health has always been a priority. In my twenties, I worked at a beautiful resort where I got to facilitate “play” through hiking, rock scrambling, boating, swimming, golf, tennis, disk golf and more. Physical activity was woven into every aspect of life. My mental health was strong then, and I did not struggle with chronic stress. I played on a regular basis, and self-care activities were built into my routine.
Where can you build play and physical activity into your healthy lifestyle? For me, I find play on my bike, kayak, and paddle board.
Develop an Awareness of Stress, Sex, Sleep, Self-care and Play as Part of Your Self-Care Maintenance and Your Daily Life
Stress, sex, sleep, self-care and play can help to lower and release stress levels. They can improve your mental health and help alleviate the symptoms of chronic stress.
When we embrace good self-care practices, our stress levels drop, our sex life is healthy, and we sleep well.
Just like the cumulative effect of high-stress levels can take its toll, so too can the cumulative effect of healthy sex, good sleep, and conscientious self-care!
As always, talk with your healthcare provider before making any major changes to your routine, especially if you suffer from cardiovascular disease or other illnesses.
From my blog:
Happy International Self-Care Day!
With love, gratitude, and kindness,