Your new book is called "Rushing Woman's Syndrome" - what exactly is this?
Rushing Woman’s Syndrome has evolved out of my observation of a shift in women’s health and behaviour over the past 14 years. Never before in my work have I witnessed so many females in a mad rush to do everything and be all things to all people. Never before have I seen the extent of reproductive system problems that I now see. Women are wired. Many of them are tired too. Tired yet wired. And this relentless urgency, this perception that there is not enough time, combined with a to-do list that is never all crossed off is having such significant health consequences for women I had to write a book about it. The perceived need to rush, whether a woman displays it on the outside or keeps it under wraps, is changing the face of women’s health as we know it and in such a detrimental way.
What are the health issues associated with this syndrome?
Sex hormone-based health problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, infertility and debilitating menopauses, not to mention exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, bloated tummies, and impaired thyroid function. The role of stress in this is undeniable when you look at both the human biochemistry and the scientific research.
What are the symptoms of this syndrome?
The symptoms are both psychological and physical. It doesn’t seem to matter if a Rushing Woman has two things to do in her day or 200, she is in a urgent rush to do it all. She is wound up like a top running herself ragged in a daily battle to keep up. She very rarely feels like she wins and gets on top of things. She feels like there is always so much to do. She gets overwhelmed. At times she feels like she can’t cope, whether she admits it out loud or keeps it all inside adding to her wound up, knotted stomach. A rushing woman often loves coffee to the point she feels deprived if she cannot get her daily fix. She tells herself she needs it either for energy, so her brain will function or so she can make her bowels move. She often answers “so busy” or “stressed” when you ask her how she is. She has problems with her periods, which might look like polycystic ovarian syndrome, heavy, clotty periods, irregular periods, PMS or a debilitating menopause. It is not unusual for her to feel overwhelmed and she has poor short-term memory to name a few. If you visit my website www.rushingwomanssyndrome.com you can take the test to find out if you are a rushing woman.
If women believe they have this syndrome, what are some ways they can deal with it?
I have outlined the different approaches in the solutions chapter of my book, but two essential starting points are to start your day with long, slow diaphragmatic breaths and taking a break from caffeine. Commit to these daily for four weeks. When we make adrenalin, a stress hormone, we use B vitamins and magnesium so replenishing these nutrients is also key. USANA’s Multi-Essentials is scientifically proven to be the best multivitamin and mineral in the world due to the way the human body absorbs this supplement.
Sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy mind and body. If women are having trouble getting a good night's sleep, do you have any tips for how they can improve this?
Your body won’t let you sleep if you fight or flight response is activated from stress or too much stimulation because your fight or flight response tells very cell of your body that your life is in danger! Therefore, I suggest reading or a breath practice or meditation about one hour before bed to switch this off. Minimizing stimulation from television, emails or mobile phones can also be helpful. Avoid caffeine completely for two weeks and see if your sleep improves. It can take caffeine up to 8 hours to be cleared from the body. Minerals are vital to the optimal function of our nervous system, which includes our ability to relax and for this I suggest USANA’s Active Calcium Plus, which contains both calcium and magnesium, two minerals critical for relaxation that are readily absorbed in the form USANA offers.
It is always helpful to write down what you are thinking about. Whether this is in the form of a journal or bullet points, once an issue is out of your head and onto paper, you’ll be surprised at how much more relaxed you feel.
Are there certain foods that can make women especially tired and lethargic that they should avoid?
I think we know the answer to this question ourselves. There may be things in your diet that do not serve you. Food is supposed to energise you not make you feel tired and lethargic. I would advise everyone regardless of his or her current health status to avoid refined sugar. It offers no nutritional value to the body and when consumed in large quantities can leave people feeling sleepy and sluggish not to mention the detrimental effects on your immune system. Following a high plant diet with plenty lots of fresh vegetables will naturally reduce your desire for sugar. I find the more bitter foods you incorporate the lesser the desire for sugar. Aim to use natural sweeteners in your diet such as pure maple syrup.
Is it possible for working mums to balance a career and life with their family?
Yes. The word balance conjures up different concepts for different people. Balance is a combination of “the what” and “the how” in your day; what you do and how you approach it. If you spend all of your time simply getting tasks done instead of remembering the juice and the joy in your life, which is available to each of us if you choose to see it that way, life can be overwhelming and our health can suffer. Ask yourself what juices you and schedule more of that while letting something else that drains you go. Stand in the doorway of your child’s bedroom and soak up how precious they are. If you take the rubbish out at night, don’t focus on the fact that you might be the person who always does this task, notice the night sky instead. Balance is as much about attitude as it is about what you do in a day. What you focus on is what you feel.
If a woman is feeling overwhelmed, are there certain things she can do in the short-term to calm down and relax?
Rushing Woman’s Syndrome goes into this in detail. The way you breathe is key, even though that sounds too simple to make a difference. Start every day with 20 long slow breaths before you get out of bed or alternatively, breathe and move your diaphragm while you wait for the kettle to boil or while you sit at the traffic lights. Eat an egg-based breakfast for 2 weeks and notice if this sets your day up better. Many people feel rushed and pressured from too much caffeine. If you feel anxious and overwhelmed you need to take a break from caffeine as it drives the very hormone (adrenalin) that is behind anxiety. Swap coffee for green tea and notice if you feel calmer and more energised an hour later after a week of doing this.
Changing your perceptions is critical. Pressure is a perception; it is not real, which is why you can have two people face the same experiences and have a very different attitude, outcome and also health status. So the first thing to explore is your attitude. What makes you feel overwhelmed? I suggest people capture their tasks and then instead of approaching it by repeating to yourself over and over again “oh my goodness, I have so much to do” ask yourself “what outcome do I want to achieve today?” and focus on that. You will feel far less pressure and far more rewarded with this shift in psychology.
And in the long-term?
Never underestimate the healing and restorative power of food they way it comes in nature. A diet primarily focused on plant foods is so beneficial to the human body. It is very difficult to be kind, compassionate and patient when you fill yourself with stimulants and foods that contain very little nutritional value. Food becomes part of you and nutrients from food drive every chemical reaction inside of you. However, I live in the same world, as you and it can be difficult to eat this way all the time, particularly when traveling overseas. I recommend the USANA nutritionals, as they are the most outstanding nutritional supplements in the world, both demonstrated scientifically and clinically. I personally take their multivitamin for this very reason. Focus on being grateful. When you are grateful you cannot be stressed. Say out loud or write down each day at least three things you feel grateful for. We understand we need to train our body physically… we also need to practice training our mind.
Dr. Libby Weaver is speaking at the USANA Health Sciences Convention in Sydney on March 10 and 11. For more information please see www.drlibby.com.