Guest post by Chris Joseph
Have you ever been surfing the web and realized that you literally have 27 tabs opened in your browser? That’s what anxiety felt like to me, like my brain was an internet browser and at all times I had 27 tabs opened. Each tab was constantly filled with reasons why everything wasn’t okay with my PCOS and demanding my full attention. You aren’t losing weight fast enough, you’re never going to have children, everybody notices that you have hair on your chin, nothing fits, you aren’t normal, and did you lock the door behind you?
PCOS and Anxiety
Anxiety is intense feelings of worry, anticipation of threatening situations, uneasiness and self-doubt. Research shows that women with PCOS experience anxiety at higher rates than women without PCOS . Anxiety can wreck havoc on your self-esteem and life if you don’t take control and manage it. There are a few reasons why women with PCOS are more susceptible to suffering from anxiety. Stressful situations like difficulty conceiving, excessive hair growth, and obesity are triggers for depression and anxiety. However, a recent study shows that anxiety is also linked to PCOS on a hormonal level due to abnormalities in menstrual cycles .
Below are a few ways that I’ve found to be successful with managing my PCOS and anxiety. There is also a free anxiety plan worksheet and coping skills cheat sheet to help you work through your worry and doubt.
1) Start from the inside
Self-awareness is one of the most powerful tools that women can have. By being aware and honest with yourself you are able to Say Hello to your challenge and put up your best fight. The underlying issue with anxiety is the concern that something is wrong or something bad will happen. By being honest with yourself, you can identify your insecurities and beat anxiety to the punch.
2) Use coping skills
Coping skills are things you can do to cope with undesirable feelings like anxiety and depression. Coping skills are also used to deal with the effects of trauma and addiction. I’ve created this coping skills cheat sheet so that you can explore which coping skills work best for you.
My favorite and most useful coping skill is deep breathing and mindfulness. By engaging in mindfulness activities, women with PCOS can release negative feelings associated with anxiety, depression, and stress . Deep breathing doesn’t take long and you can do it anywhere. Start by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in through your nose, breathe all the way through your belly, and hold your breath for two seconds as you visualize all of your unpleasant thoughts being gathered together in a bubble. As you breathe out through your mouth, blow the bubble out and clear your brain space. Repeat 3-4 times or until you feel your-self calming down.
3) Create a plan
Creating an anxiety plan means identifying your triggers and coping skills to combat those triggers. Preparation is key with anxiety because during an anxious moment or panic attack, it can be easy to succumb to negative feelings and thoughts. Click here for a downloadable anxiety plan worksheet.
Stress raises cortisol levels and heightens PCOS symptoms, which leads to intensified anxiety. Control your cortisol levels through the use of essential oils like lavender and de-stressing foods like dark chocolate and blueberries.
5) Manage your PCOS and balance your hormones
The best way to manage anxiety symptoms that come along with PCOS is to commit to managing the root causes of your PCOS. Eat clean and whole, exercise regularly, supplement vitamin deficiencies, and take care of your mental health. Remember that you are awesome and you have the power to kick some PCOS ass.
So what do you think?
Have you suffered from anxiety? How did you deal with it? Take a look at the coping skills cheat sheet. Which one will you try? If you also suffer from depression relating to PCOS, check out my post on the PCOS Blues for a free week-long guided workbook.
Please use the information presented here as general guide for managing symptoms of anxiety. If you feel like you suffer from intensive anxiety or depression, please seek professional help.
Chris Joseph has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and runs HelloPCOS.com. Chris aims to help women lead happy and healthy lives with PCOS by providing useful and applicable information and resources. Sign up for Chris’ newsletter to receive FREE access to her Ultimate PCOS Resource Library. Chris can be reached through email at Chris@HelloPCOS.com.