Like sleep, poor mental health can take a toll on the body. Let’s not forget that cortisol, the infamous stress hormone, can lead to a surge in insulin, which then negatively affects your glucose metabolism. The result? You may crave more sugars, carbs, and sweets5. Not to mention, high levels of cortisol can mess with your sleep—which only perpetuates the cycle of hormonal dysfunction.
“For women listening out there, you have to carve out parts of your day to nurture your mental health, your parasympathetic nervous system,” Seeman says. For example, she dedicates a few moments of her day for breathwork: “I’m such a huge fan of it, and I teach patients this in my own clinic all the time,” she adds. “You can do it absolutely anywhere. You can do it in your car, you can go in a bathroom stall… incorporating that into your daily rituals can make you just more resilient.”
See here for some beginner-friendly breathwork exercises, or if meditation is more your thing, here’s how to start a daily practice; research shows that mindfulness-based interventions like meditation can actually lower cortisol6.