Banshees are mythical creatures from Celtic lore that are known for heralding the death of a loved one. But I see them for what they truly are — the frenzied hormones that rear their ugly heads when triggered by someone being overtired or over-worked. Banshees also love when you’re overloaded with carbs because they can feed on the sugar rushing through your veins like a ravenous vampire.
Banshees also appear at the a monthly headbanger three-way dance of cortisol, progesterone, and estrogen. You know — the recurring joy of female physiology.
Sometimes the Banshees scream their terrible howls, making you feel like crawling in the corner of the room to rock back and forth in a rolled-up fetal position. Other times, however, they just whisper in your ear, gently taunting you into submission. Either way — it’s not a fun experience. So how do we protect ourselves? What are the weapons we need to cut off the screaming banshee’s head (or less violently, coax her into have a relaxing cup of chamomile tea so she’ll go away and leave us alone)?
1. Most importantly, we need to have an adequate amount of sleep. And it needs to be good sleep. I’m not talking about going to bed for eight hours and watching Netflix for three of them. Lying down does not equate with getting sleep. At best, watching TV or reading a book in bed is being restful — and while rest is important, it doesn’t contribute to valuable REM. And when you miss out on one or two night’s sleep, you need to make darn sure that you make up for it. Banshees love a muddled brain; it’s like candy to them. I was away last weekend and drove for 15 hours straight, so I didn’t get home until 5am on Sunday. That morning, I slept until noon, which meant that I had seven hours sleep (not bad, really) and then the next couple of nights I had around six hours of sleep each night. By the end of the week, I was dizzy and feeling like I was going to have a heart attack. Last night, I didn’t care about the dishes or a clean house, or even interacting with my family. I went straight to bed after supper and had a full ten hours of deep sleep. I am now back to normal. Or at least my normal.
2. Don’t eat too many carbs. I have jumped on the keto train, and I find whenever I get off of it I feel super crappy. Keto has really helped stabilize my blood sugars and hormones to a level that makes me feel good enough to snub breads, muffins and french fries. But sometimes (see traveling, above) I get lazy and feel like I can handle it. I am usually wrong. And then I spiral back down to a level when the banshees scream in both ears. You don’t need to be on a keto diet to feel good; but everyone should watch how much sugar you have in your body because a sugar crash isn’t fun for anyone. Eating a variety of healthy foods and fats provide formidable ear plugs to drown out the banshees.
3. Take some time to relax. We all have responsibilities, whether to your place of work, to your family, volunteering time, or even to a circle of friends. But we also have a responsibility to self-care. When we jump over this rung on the ladder to get to the other responsibilities, the ladder cracks and we fall down. And we’re tasty bait for the banshees when we’re lying on the ground after a fall, especially if the ladder is really tall. If you can afford it, go for a professional massage. If you can’t, have a hot bath or shower with aromatherapy oils (lavender, frankincense, and sandalwood are my personal faves). Or nestle up under the covers with a book or Netflix in the middle of the day and feel righteous about it.
These are a few of the ways to banish the banshees. There are many more. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and not feel guilty about it. We are socialized to believe that we need to keep pushing ourselves ever forward towards being better, being more successful, being more athletic, etc. What we don’t value is caring for ourselves, and this is to the detriment for everyone who surrounds us. So take some time to put yourself first. Ultimately, it is the most unselfish thing that you can do.
No one wants to be around someone being attacked by banshees.