What’s the big deal with de-stressing? One of my concerns with Hashimotos is stressing my adrenal glands which produce several of their own hormones, but they also control the release of cortisol hormone produced in the pituitary gland. You may remember from school that cortisol hormone is associated with the fight-or-flight response. We learned that at some point, right?
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol hormone effect blood sugar management, the immune system, and fat storage, among others. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are mental fog, feeling worn down or fatigued, craving salty foods (hello, Jackson’s Honest potato chips!), feeling stressed most of the time, reoccurring cold/flu, and many more.
In my quest to balance and repair all my hormones (to the max extent possible), I have really prioritized sleep and stress management. Towards the end of 2018 I took relaxation to a whole new level by introducing a “pokey mat” (very official terminology in case you are wondering) into my nightly routine. I first spied the Pranamat on a yogi’s Instagram account and was intrigued by its alleged benefits, mostly muscle relaxation through mimicry of acupuncture massage. Always the skeptic, I decided to opt for a much more economically priced knock-off from Amazon to test how my body reacted to the plastic spikes.
I was nervous my first time laying on the mat, so I wore a shirt to cover my back and shoulders. The second time around, I opted for full skin to mat contact and what can I say: I fell in love. After a few minutes the discomfort subsided and it actually felt good to use the plastic knobs to gently massage my muscles. I find it especially relaxing to target my shoulders and neck where all my stress seems to have taken up residence. It’s a little tricky, but with some proper pillow placement I can angle the mat in just the right spot.
Some nights I even double down and listen to Headspace to help clear my mind. In a perfect world I would start and end my day with 15 minutes on the mat, but the reality is, I can only carve out a few nights a week. That’s life!