This episode covers the topic of stress and burnout. Many are affected by the stress of today's challenges and experiencing symptoms of hormonal burnout. Listen to learn how chronic stress affects hormones and leads to burnout. Discover the top 3 major contributors to hormonal burnout. Gain insight into the top contributors to hormonal burnout and how to begin recovery and build resiliency.
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Episode 3 Transcript
0:13 Hello, and welcome to the hungry for truth podcast. I'm your host, Brigitte Factor, a truth seeker, researcher, scientist, nutritionist, teacher in truth teller, and awakening is coming. Get ready for it.
0:47 Welcome to the hungry for truth podcast. I'm so delighted that you're here and listening. Today's show is going to cover the very relevant topic of stress and burnout. The truth is many of us are feeling very stressed right now, everyone I've talked to is dealing with some level of stress given our current climate. And maybe this is you maybe you've noticed that you're dealing with more anxiety and nervousness or your sleep is being affected and you're having a hard time managing cravings and mood swings, you are not alone. I want to provide some insights of why you're feeling this way, and what you can do about it. By the end of this episode, you will have some ideas that you can use to support your hormones and begin to recover from a hormonal burnout.
1:39 First, let's define stress. Stress is anything that challenges us. Some stress makes us stronger like exercise. And some stress makes us weaker, like dealing with a serious injury or infection. And how we respond to stress is what makes the difference. Our stress response is controlled by our brain and nervous system. And there are two parts of our nervous system. There's the sympathetic side and the parasympathetic side. And the sympathetic side of our nervous system is responsible for our stress response or our fight or flight response. And this response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event or threat to survival. When our brain perceives a threat, it sends signals out to the body. And these signals are hormonal messengers. When our brain sends a signal, that we're under stress, or that there's a threat of an attack, our adrenal glands respond by producing a hormonal cascade priming the body for fight or flight. One of the main hormones that's produced by the adrenal glands is called cortisol. So cortisol is known as our stress hormone. And this stress response is designed to allow us to respond and face danger, and then come back into homeostasis. So I talked about there being two sides to the nervous system. So whenever we sense danger, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in, we, our body is then primed to respond to this potential danger or perceived threat. And then we are designed to go back into our parasympathetic or the other side, which we call this homeostasis. So when we are knocked out of our off our balance with this threat, we respond and then we come back into balance or come back into homeostasis. So homeostasis is just a common word that's used to explain the balance that our body is looking to maintain what I like to refer to this as our safe place. I played softball in college. So I like to use the analogy of home base when you run around the bases and make it back home you are safe you are in your safe place, and home bases are safe place. So this is the place we're trying to get back to is this place of balance in the body. And our brain perceives all stress as equal. So our brain responds to stress the same way. Regardless of what type of stress we are under. All stress is treated the same way. The stress response is the same for different types of stress, whether it's mental emotional stress or physical stress. So you know, for example, when you're on your morning commute, you're stuck in traffic and you're getting irritated by this and you you're feeling stressed by not being at work on time, the brain is responding to this in the same way as if you were working out really hard, and you burning your body under stress to make yourself stronger. So the the hormonal messengers that are sent out are the exact same In either case, it's the same for physiological stress as well. So physiological stress is hidden stress that's happening inside our body. So think of getting an infection or being injured, there's something not right in the body. This is a stress to the system and our brain needs to respond to it.
5:38 Our hormones influence our perception of stressful events. So think of our hormones like wearing rose colored glasses. Our hormones provide a filter in which we view the world and if our hormones are out of whack, then we're going to have a different perspective of what is happening. An example of this is when we experience moodiness, during PMS, our hormones are fluctuating and out of balance during this time, and that is reflected in our moods and how we respond to events, because our perception of these things is being affected through the filter in which we are viewing the world. And the region of our brain that sends out these hormonal messages, is called the hypothalamus and pituitary. And I'm just going to refer to them as H and P, from now on to keep things simple. And so the HPA axis regulates our entire endocrine system, they regulate all of our hormones in our body. And so you can use this analogy of a submarine a submarine is responsible for scanning the horizon and monitoring for threats. And so Captain H, our hypothalamus is the captain of the submarine of our body. And Captain he is responsible for scanning our body and monitoring for threats or monitoring for when things start to go out of balance, so he can bring them back into balance again. And P is his first officer. So Captain H is looking at the periscope monitoring the horizon of the body, looking for threats looking for things that are out of balance and sending orders to Officer P. and Officer P is communicating with other parts of the body. So this HP communication is communicating with other parts of the body through hormonal messengers. HP communicates with battleship a the adrenals when there is a threat seen on the horizon, so the captain he is looking through his periscope sees a threat coming see tells Officer P to send out the signal, Officer P sends out the signal to battleship a which are the adrenals and battleship a prepares for battle by producing cortisol. HP also communicates with our thyroid and our ovaries and other organs as well. So when HP is communicating with a thyroid, Captain, he is scanning the body monitoring metabolism and body temp temperature and when he realizes that things need adjusting, he gives the order to Officer P and Officer P sends a signal to the thyroid to up regulate or down regulate metabolism. The same type of communication pattern happens with our sex organs and our ovaries and testes. So for example, when it's time to oscillate in a female captain, he communicates with Officer P. Officer P sends a signal to the ovaries give them that signal. And in response to that signal. We ovulate an egg is released and progesterone is produced. So progesterone is one of our sex hormones that helps regulate that signal as well. So this HP communication regulates our hormonal rhythms. It regulates our daily rhythm and our monthly rhythm.
9:28 Our daily rhythm is controlled by two hormones cortisol and melatonin. And these hormones regulate our sleep wake cycles. There is an ebb and flow throughout the day of each of these hormones which influence our daily rhythms. Cortisol is highest in the morning, which helps us wake up and get out of bed. And it's lower in the evening, where melatonin is highest in the evening, which sends our signal to our body to the time to fall asleep. And melatonin is lower in the morning. So there's this an ebb and flow that is opposite of each other between these two hormones. And cortisol is antagonistic to melatonin, meaning that if cortisol is high, then melatonin is suppressed. An example of this is, let's say, you get into an argument with your kids or your spouse right before bed, you get all amped up. And now you can't go to sleep. Well, part of that is because of the hormonal messengers that are produced, for instance, cortisol is surely getting in the way of the melatonin signal, and melatonin gets suppressed, and that signal doesn't work as well to give you the signal that it's time to fall asleep.
10:46 These hormonal messengers also regulate our monthly regular rhythm. So HP communicates with our sex organs to regulate our monthly rhythms as well. And progesterone and estrogen, ebb and flow in a monthly cycle giving feedback to the brain to help monitor where we are in our cycle. So there's this back and forth communication happening between the ovaries and the brain, that is helping to regulate our monthly cycle, the first half of our cycle that starts with day one of men sees this is where estrogen is higher. And then in the middle, we get the signal from the brain, we ovulate, we release an egg, and then we move into the second half of our cycle. And this is where progesterone is higher. And progesterone helps prepare us for pregnancy, if the egg is fertilized, if pregnancy doesn't occur, then there's a signal sent back to the brain and the cycle starts over again. So there's this ebb and flow of these hormones, and communication back and forth between the brain and our ovaries that are that is happening that helps regulate these cycles. And this HP communicate, communication connects all of our hormonal rhythms. So when there is a disrupted connection with one system, this can lead to poor communication in another system. So for example, poor communication from our submarine to battleship a can lead to downstream hormonal imbalances. And poor communication from the submarine Captain can lead to mixed signals. So if the captain is seeing lots of threats, or on the horizon, or lots of changes that need to be made in the body, and is constantly shouting orders at Officer P, Officer P may not be able to keep up with those orders and sending out the right signals and signals get crossed and confused. And so we, when this starts to happen, we start to see changes in other areas. So for example, our thyroid starts to slow down and our metabolism becomes affected, or our ovaries get a poor signal, and our cycle starts to become effective. And this entire cascade of events is started between the communication with the adrenals. And the reason the adrenals are having such an influence on this is because the brain prioritizes our stress response over reproduction and metabolism, our ability to survive a threatening situation is more important than being able to reproduce. And if we don't learn to deal with these stressors or to correct the imbalances that are happening.
13:48 This stress or chronic stress can lead to burnout and the accumulation of stressors in our life that aren't dealt with can lead to hormonal burnout. And what I mean by burnout is reaching that point where you have nothing left, you have no resources to properly respond to challenges that you face. And this is where symptoms start to show up in other areas of your life, like moodiness or insomnia, or increased cravings and decreased metabolism. And those two together are no fun, right? And so over time, this also leads to reduction in other hormones like thyroid or progesterone and we start to see that reflected in other areas. This goes back to the body prior to prioritizing survival over these other areas. So biochemically speaking, your resources are going to build the cortisol or to supply battleship a, and this is using other resources from other areas. It's stealing resources from being able to supply our ovaries and sex. hormones. And so as stress increases our adrenals and our thyroid and our ovary function can decrease leading to burnout. And so you can think of this, like we're running out of resources. And that's why I call it burnout. Now, now that you understand how all of this is connected, hopefully you've had some aha moments. To get a better understanding of how your body works and why you're responding this way, and why it's affecting these other areas.
15:29 I want to talk about the three types of stress that commonly lead to hormonal burnout and how we can deal with those. And so the first type I want to address is diet and lifestyle, stress. And diet and lifestyle stress is listed first, because this is the most common type of stress we face on a daily basis is what we're eating, and how we're living our lifestyle. In terms of health habits and things. The number one source of dietary stress I see in my practice is blood sugar imbalances. And a lot of people are riding a blood sugar rollercoaster. And this is sending a stress signal to the brain. Whenever we're eating processed food, or foods that contain a lot of refined carbohydrates that increase our blood sugar quickly, our body responds to that blood sugar being elevated by trying to bring it back down. And it can over respond and bring it down to low. So think of the roller coaster going up, cranking up really high, to get you ready to go down that really steep drop in you come down really fast. So this is an analogy of what's happening with the blood sugar. And when you come down really fast, you actually drop lower than what is normal for your body. So you have a low blood sugar moment. You know, this, this is characterized by that crankiness. Or that need to go grab a snack in the middle of the afternoon, those types of low blood sugar symptoms, or shakiness or agitation. And this creates a cortisol surge, because when our blood sugar drops below normal, that means we're out of balance. Our Captain H, says, Hey, we're out of balance, we need to fix this. And our adrenals kick in to produce cortisol to respond to this alarm. So when we're writing that blood sugar rollercoaster, several times a day, with each meal that we're eating, we're going up and down, and up and down, we are pushing that alarm bell multiple times a day. And over time, this type of stress can add up and cause problems. That is, like I said, the number one source of stress that I see that that can be addressed. And we can do something about, there are other lifestyle stresses as well like not getting enough sleep staying up too late. And and we start to disrupt that daily rhythm of getting rest, right. And this is affecting our stress response. So our stress response can cause us to see imbalances in that daily rhythm and in effect our sleep and then if we are not being intentional about having good sleep habits, that can in turn, increase our stress response. So they go hand in hand. Other sources are over or under exercising and just not getting the right amount that our body needs. Okay, so these are sources of diet and lifestyle stress that can be addressed. And that can have an impact on our hormones, and how we respond to stress and the other area.
18:49 Second area I wanted to talk about is physiological stress, or what I call hidden stress, because it's happening inside the body, and we can't see it. And the number one source of hidden stress that I see in my practice is gut inflammation. We can't feel when our gut is inflamed. Some people may experience symptoms like gas and bloating or constipation. Most of the time that gets passed off as normal, but most people don't realize or don't notice if they have gut inflammation. And from my perspective, as a functional nutritionist, gut health is foundational to overall health. And what I've noticed is that I can't or we can't balance hormones if the gut is inflamed, because again, it's like pushing that alarm bell with the stress response and in trying to turn off that alarm. We have to turn off that gut inflammation first. I'm going to talk more about that in just a minute. Other sources of internal stress can be poor detoxification, where we have an increased time toxic load on our body and we just can't get rid of them. Things like infections and injuries, those types of sources of inflammation are a stress to our system. And inflammation feeds stress, and stress feeds inflammation, and it becomes a cycle until you start to address those sources of stress.
20:23 And then the third area is psychological stress. And this is the area that we think of when we use the term stress in everyday language. Like when you think, Oh, I'm so stressed, you're referring to mental emotional stress. And a lot of us are dealing with this type of stress right now. And there, there can be different areas of this mental emotional stress that can add up, you know, you can have financial stress due to, you know, the current financial climate or changes in your work and your income. There can be relational stress between husband and wife or between other family members, there can be work stress, maybe your work been affected, or your careers been affected. And then there's also traumas and, you know, traumas that we've experienced, maybe death of a loved one or past traumas that we haven't dealt with that are still causing stress in our system. So again, this is another big area of stress, and we are all dealing with stress. And so the question is, how do we know how well our body is handling it? are we are we resilient in handling this? And these things that we're struggling with are just normal? And part of what's going on? Or is our filter in which we view the world distorted by our hormones? Are some of these internal imbalances? Are these symptoms normal, or their underlying imbalances that need to be addressed? And so this is where I want to encourage you to reach out for help if you need it? Do you need to find someone that you can talk to or who can support you through sorting these things out? It's really important to seek that help to start to get a different perspective and see, you know, is this something that's normal? Or do I need to kind of look into things a little bit more, there is no shame in seeking help.
22:26 There, there is a path to recovery. There are brighter days ahead. So I want to, again, speak positive that we are all dealing with some type of stress, and, you know, seeking sources of help that can help us handle it. And knowing that there are brighter days ahead, you can learn to handle the challenges that you face better than you already are. So let's reframe how we're speaking to ourselves. Instead of saying, Oh my gosh, I'm so stressed, I'm so overwhelmed. How can we reframe that to kind of get us out of that stress response? So let's practice saying this to ourselves. I can learn to handle stress better than I already do. But doesn't that feel better to your body to your system, I can learn to handle stress better than I already do. Okay, this way, you're not beating yourself up about it. Or what I like to say is don't should on yourself, right? Get the word should, I shouldn't be doing this, and I shouldn't be doing this out of your vocabulary, because that, again, is just adding more stress.
23:40 So let's shift our perspective and talk about what we can do. And when I'm working with clients, the first step is to identify and remove stressors that we can control. And so here are the three most common stressors that I see in my practice. First is that blood sugar dysregulation or riding the blood sugar rollercoaster day in and day out. This is a huge stress on our body, in fact, affects our ability to handle stress. Well. This is something anyone can take control of starting today. Process food is food that contains refined flours and refined sugars and affects our blood sugar regulation and is inflammatory and sends a signal to our brain that we are under stress when we eat too much of them. So, you know, evaluating your diet and seeing where are some changes that I can make, what can I do to help regulate my blood sugar better or seeking help from a practitioner in that area?
24:57 Number two is gut inflammation. Poor gut health. This, again is a big source of stress that I see for people. And they don't realize that, you know, this is happening inside. And it's creating this inflammation and stress, it's sometimes referred to as leaky gut, this type of stress often goes unnoticed, or symptoms get passed off as normal. And from my perspective, as a functional nutritionist, gut health is the seat of overall health. And there is a direct connection between the gut and the brain. And I'm going to go into that connection, the gut brain connection in detail in other episodes. So I'm going to dedicate some time to talk about that. And I'm just going to set that aside for now. And talk about a broader overview of what is leading to gut inflammation. And you know, this can be poor digestion, not eating the right types of food or eating foods that we're sensitive to, or having an imbalance of the wrong types of bacteria in the gut, all of these can lead to gut inflammation, and that gut inflammation is a stress signal to the brain.
26:11 And the third area to identify and remove is that mental emotional stress. And let's face it, many of us are dealing with extra mental and emotional stress and strain right now. And this has a direct effect on our physical health and our hormones. Learning the tools to help you navigate this type of stress will help you in rebalancing your hormones. And this is where seeking the support or learning these tools is going to help you and I've been working with a counselor this past year, and I've seen huge changes with the type of work we're doing together. And many people can benefit from having that support system. So I want to find, I want to encourage you to find a good support system, who can you reach out to Is there a friend or a church group or a counselor that can help you learn to manage mental emotional stress, or just be a sounding board to help you figure out what you need to do. There are many counselors see clients via video conference now, which is great. So that's a great resource or tool to seek support with. I have a private online community, and I created this community to be a source of support for people. And you're welcome to join for free, it's at the authentic table. And this is a private community for Christian women who are interested in natural ways to support their health. And we have workshops and discussion topics and share recipes and ideas. And, you know, have lots of interaction about those kinds of things inside this community. So this is a free community that you can join. It's that authentictable.mn.co. And I will put a link in the show notes for you to check that out.
28:08 So I hope some of these ideas and insights are helpful for you. The main thing is to know that you are not alone. And I have a verse of encouragement for you. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way. consider it an opportunity for great joy. James one, verse two. These challenges we are facing right now can make us stronger. We can use them to learn how to make us stronger. We can pay attention to those signals that our body is telling us that we need to address something. And it is possible to get out of overwhelm and burnout. Even when it feels like we are all losing control of our world. There is a sovereign God who cares for you. No matter how much overwhelm you're feeling right now. There is hope. You are not alone. There are kind, caring, compassionate and generous people in this world who want to help. you're one of those people too. You're listening to this and you obviously care. And I care about you too. I'm sharing this information with you. If you'd like to dive deeper into this topic of hormone burnout and stress, I've created a free masterclass where I share a little more detail and I share what types of herbal supports I like to use in my own hormone protocol and go deeper into how to create your own path to recovery. And you can find that free masterclass inside the authentic table. So you just go to authentictable.mn.co. To join for free. I'll put a link in the show notes. And that masterclass is located inside. Wow, that was a lot of great information. So let's take a deep breath.
30:26 What's sticking with you the most right now? What is one thing that you can take away from this and use right away? I know that was a lot of information and I don't want to add more overwhelm. So just pick one thing to focus on. Also, who else can benefit from this information? Please share it with them because it could change their life. I thank you so much for listening. And next time I'm going to be sharing some tools to help naturally regulate your stress response and retrain your nervous system and talk about heart rate variability. So that's a really cool topic, subscribe to this podcast and you'll be able to download that future episode and get notified when it comes out. And I appreciate you. Now go forth and embrace your awakening. Until next time, Grace and Peace to you.