Last week we gave you an introduction to Hashimoto's disease. Let's talk about the impact of stress and anxiety on Hashimoto's.
Although not a direct cause, stress can increase Hashimoto's symptoms. Stress is a natural occurrence in life, especially during the pandemic, where we have been on high alert and uncertain of what was going on around us.
For someone with an autoimmune disease, it's possible to eat well and still experience symptoms that are exacerbated by stress. This is why it's important to check in with your stress levels and ensure you are managing it before it gets bad.
Although there is no singular cause for anxiety and stress, some of the most common include an
increase in cortisol levels and blood sugar imbalance. As a result, stress messes with our hormones. Since Hashimoto's is the result of an under functioning thyroid, which manages a number of our hormones, stress impacts the thyroid, causing Hashimoto's symptoms to get worse.
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Decreasing these symptoms isn't done through a one-size-fits-all method, because the reality of Hashimoto's is that this all depends on the individual's diet and lifestyle. Taking the time to check in with your body, how you're feeling and what is causing the stress allows us to understand our body, and can help reduce these symptoms.
Although these are not a total fix, here are some tips to reduce the anxiety and stress that can exacerbate Hashimoto's symptoms:
If you are doing high-impact workouts that don't leave you feeling energized, these can cause added stress to the body. Try switching to low impact workouts, 3-4 times a week.
Try switching out your caffeine intake. Instead of having several coffees throughout the day, aim for one and get the rest of your caffeine intake from calming teas, like dandelion or chamomile, especially if this is during the evening time.
Avoid skipping meals. Doing this impacts your blood sugar balance, causing more stress to the body which makes Hashimoto's symptoms worse. Aim for 3 meals a day that are nutrient-packed and full of color.
Put yourself first! This may seem trivial, but when all other responsibilities become your first priority, we tend to forget to check in with how we feel. Over time, this leads to burn out. Try to create a list of 'me-time' activities that you make sure are ticked off every day. This can be anything from taking 10 minutes in the morning to stretch and breathe, to making yourself a delicious breakfast, to reading a good book right before bed.
Lifestyle changes may seem daunting at first, but understanding why they are important is the first step in making these changes. Putting yourself and your health first is number one!
Although there is no known cure for Hashimoto's, that doesn't mean that you cannot control the symptoms. Being mindful of how your body feels and constantly checking in with how you feel can make all the difference.
If you have been recently diagnosed and are finding it difficult to navigate your diet or life around this, get in touch! We specialize in Hashimoto's nutrition and have meal plans specifically for you. Click the button below to head to our website and book a call to get started with us.
Over on our Instagram, we have a number of easy to digest infographics (if you're more of a visual learner!), so click here to go to our page, @lorrainekearneynutrition!