27/05/2014 13:18 BST | Updated 27/07/2014 06:59 BST

Rushing Woman's Syndrome

Rushing Woman's Syndrome has evolved out of my observation of a shift in women's health and behaviour over the past 16 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 and sex hormone challenges 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 about it.

Not that long ago women were given the opportunity to do what had traditionally been their father's jobs, while maintaining what were traditionally their mother's responsibilities and what has unfolded for too many women is a frantic double shift, of work day and night, with very little if any rest. 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 in such a detrimental way; from PMS to IBS, from losing our tempers to feeling like we can't cope.

The nervous system plays a significant role in the stress response and it has a number of parts. The two branches related to this concept are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as the amped up "fight or flight" response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the calming "rest, digest, repair and reproduce" arm of the nervous system. The challenge for too many women today is that they live in SNS dominance and this can play havoc with weight management, food cravings, sleep quality, patience, moods, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.

One of the hormones driving this is adrenalin, which communicates to every cell in the body that your life is in danger. As I described in my TEDx talk science suggests humans have been on the planet for about 150,000 years and for the entirety of that history, that's what adrenalin has meant to the body. The nervous system doesn't know that the adrenalin amping you up is not from a physical threat to your life but rather your body's response to the coffee you drink and/or your perception of pressure.

When we live on adrenalin we tend not to sleep restoratively, crave (and give in and eat!) sugar despite our best intentions, and find it harder and harder to utilise stored body fat as a fuel, instead burning glucose. Yet when we primarily burn glucose as a fuel (instead of body fat), because it is our "get out of danger" fuel, the body can't risk the glucose fuel tank getting too low so the desire for it gets switched on... hello harsh self-talk when you give in to your sweet cravings even though you said you wouldn't.

So why do we do it? One reason is because we care so much for the people in our lives. On one level this way of living comes from such a beautiful place. It comes because we have beautiful hearts, but even deeper than that it comes because we made up a story a really long time ago that we aren't enough the way we are; that we aren't good enough, tall enough, slim enough, pretty enough, brainy enough, on time enough, that we're just not enough the way that we are, so we spend our lives trying to please everyone in our realm, putting their needs ahead of our own. We rush around and do all we can to make sure that others love and appreciate us so that we never, ever have to feel rejected, ostracised, unlovable, criticised, yelled at, and like we've let others down. It's not just the physical health consequences that concern me for women. It's that they live their lives so out of touch with those beautiful hearts, out of touch with how extraordinary they are and in the cloud of false belief that they aren't enough.

It is important to realise that the way we eat, drink, move, think, believe and perceive impacts our need to rush. I write books, including Rushing Woman's Syndrome to help people to live their lives with more PNS activation because this can have the most profound effect on health. From that place sex hormones are far easier to balance, liver function (detoxification processes) and digestion work closer to optimal so there's far less bloating, the thyroid works better which is also important for metabolic rate and the ability to burn body fat.

Bring awareness to why you do what you do and work out what lead you there. Awareness, rather than judgment of ourselves is the first step in this journey to retire from Rushing Woman's Syndrome. Please remember that life is precious, that you are precious and to treat yourself accordingly.

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