Well, colour me purple and pink stripes, there’s such a thing as World Thyroid Day!
Those who don’t have thyroid health issues might be all “who cares?” about an awareness day for the not-so-humble thyroid gland.
But the truth is that we all need to care.
You don’t need to experience PTSD to be over-stressed and unfortunately, one of the triggers for thyroid problems is just that – stress.
Stress, perhaps the greatest threat to health in contemporary life, can be caused by a wide range of factors: toxins in our air, water and food; poor dietary choices and nutritional deficiencies; chronic bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infections; and lifestyle issues such as insufficient sleep, lack of exercise (or for some, overexercising); and chronic worry and anxiety.
The first points of vulnerability in the body are the adrenal glands, which become exhausted, and then our immune system, which weakens, opening us to all sorts of imbalances and ailments.
As mentioned previously, one of my friends in the US is a naturopathic doctor and in her words, thyroid issues are reaching epidemic proportions. What a surprise in our over-worked, unhealthy western world!
Something else I’ve recently learned is that once you have thyroid health issues, if you don’t start taking good care of yourself it can get much worse. Say you don’t have the auto-immune version of hypothyroidism – you can easily develop this if you continue to ignore your body.
Another friend of mine (they know who they are!) puts it like this: You don’t f*#k around with your thyroid!
Basically, if you live with constant worry, anxiety, or stress then it’s your responsibility to yourself to sort it out before it becomes a chronic condition that affects your physical health. Of course, stress doesn’t just affect your thyroid. You need to take care of your heart health, too.
Some of us can’t help it though – PTSD is like a car crash for the body’s stress responses, and it takes time, effective therapy and support to resolve.
What surprises me however, is that people with chronic anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD are not (at least in my experience) advised to make sure they don’t neglect their physical health. Malnutrition is another trigger for thyroid problems and those with a broken fight or flight response are prone to self-neglect. Their minds are too busy just trying to make sure they are safe, and eating properly is often the last thing on the agenda.
So here I am, working it out for myself and doing my part to spread the word:
Dudes! Stress is bad for us in many more ways than we realise.
Here’s a short list of stuff we can all do to reduce our stress levels:
- Eat well – if the body is malnourished, our ability to cope with stress and change is reduced.
- Get appropriate exercise – getting the heart pumping and blood circulating around your body regulates your hormones and calms the mind and emotions.
- Find people to laugh with – laughter is one of the best stress-relievers around. Laugh with your friends, hang out with little kids and delight in their giggles, and read hilarious blogs like my friends Lo and Y-Dawg.
- Get hugs or physical contact – it sounds cheesy but seriously, most of us don’t have enough physical contact in our lives. I know I don’t, and it’s tough if you’re single and/or coping with mental health issues that make you pull away from others. These days, I always hug my friends and get massages as often as I can.
Luckily for me, yoga and mediation are very beneficial for stress management. Hooray for yoga! And shoulder stand is considered to be one of the best poses for assisting thyroid function but there are others, too. Check it out:
Right then. Enough said for now on the whole thyroid health/stress reduction stuff. Get on it, people! Relax, eat well, get plenty of sleep and bring enjoyment back into your lives. And stay healthy, okay?
~ Svasti xo