Let’s be real here. Having a chronic illness like hypothyroidism is no fun. It’s something that you have to constantly think about and manage, making choices that are healthier or, at the very least, not harmful. Throw in a menstrual cycle and you’ve got quite the task. Hypothyroidism has a lot of side effects like weight gain, fatigue, depression, and a heavy and/or painful period. While you may not be able to make your illness go away, you can do things to manage it. The five lifestyle changes below can boost your mood, energize you, make your period go a bit more smoothly, and even work to heal your thyroid.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
This might seem challenging, especially because hypothyroidism can make it hard to lose weight. It’s an important factor in having a healthy life, though. Having too much body fat can make your body resistant to insulin and this can affect your hormone levels. It’s a vicious cycle because people who are overweight need more thyroid hormone for their thyroid to work correctly. The following tips can help you get to or maintain a healthy body weight which can improve thyroid function and reduce your risk for thyroid cancer. Win win!
Eat a Balanced Diet
One of the kindest things you can do for your body, regardless of health conditions, is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. This is especially true if you have hypothyroidism. Choosing certain foods with nutrients that can counteract the effects of your chronic illness can leave you feeling more energized, boost your mood, and give you an overall sense of wellness. Clean eating is something that many professionals recommend for those with a thyroid disease. This means ditching the pre-packaged foods and choosing healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and a moderate amount of whole grains. Your diet should include plenty of Selenium, Omega-3s, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamins B6 and E.
Exercise in Moderation
Exercise goes hand in hand with a balanced diet if you have hypothyroidism. Walking, running, or lifting weights are all powerful ways to take control of your health but make sure you’re listening to your body. Hypothyroidism can worsen if you overexert yourself because it removes an iodine molecule from your inactive thyroid hormone (T4), making it so that your body can’t convert it to T3, your active thyroid hormone.
Another benefit to exercise for people with hypothyroidism that experience period cramps are the boost in endorphins you get when you get your heart pumping. These endorphins can act as natural painkillers, making PMS symptoms milder or eliminating them completely.
Get Enough ZZZ’s
We all wish there were a few more hours in the day so we could get everything done. It can be tempting to skimp on sleep in favor of tackling your to-do list but sleep is a critical function, especially if you have hypothyroidism. When you’re sleeping, your body has a chance to repair tissues and lower the stress hormone cortisol. If you have trouble sleeping, exercise and stress management can help.
Manage Your Stress Levels
We live in a world where stress is sometimes glorified and misunderstood as success. When you’re living with hypothyroidism, it’s really important to manage stress because it can wreak havoc on your thyroid by increasing the resistance of your thyroid receptor cells to your thyroid hormone and weakening your immune system. Yoga, meditation, and, of course, exercise can all help you to keep your stress levels at bay.
Living with a chronic illness isn’t easy. When you also have a period to deal with, it can be even more challenging. The good news is that, between medication and lifestyle changes, you can live a very healthy and happy life. All it takes is making a few tweaks to your routine and you could be feeling better in no time.