When I’m not blogging about LBL, I speak at women’s conferences. Last week, I found myself in front of a banquet hall filled with ladies mostly 40 to 65 in age. Some were retired, though most were career and business women. I wasn't there to talk about light bladder leakage. I was showing them how to make small subtle shifts to produce bigger, more positive results in their lives.
A woman in the audience raised her hand. She was struggling. Overworked, she just couldn't let go and let her staff take on some of her tasks. “I’m stressed when I’m not in control. And I’m stressed trying to do it all myself,” she said. When the topic of stress came up, my LBL expertise slipped out. I said, “When you’re stressed, cortisol and other stress hormones are released that trick your body into believing you’re in danger. It changes your body chemistry, and can even aggravate your bladder, and make things like light bladder leakage worse.” Every pair of eyebrows in the room rose in unison. Oops. Did I go too far? “Sorry,” I said, “maybe that was too much information.” The woman who had shared said, “No! That’s NOT too much information.” Another lady on the opposite side of the room echoed, “That is not too much information at all.” The room filled with anticipatory silence. What I thought was TMI actually created an “I’m-not-the-only-one” feeling of relief, and a desire to know more.
Though I didn't go on to talk about LBL, I did offer some ideas for managing stress, and curbing the need for control that drives us women to do everything all by ourselves. Here are a few of those tips applied specifically to managing LBL.
1. Don’t make radical changes. You will get nowhere when you tell yourself to just stop being stressed about LBL. Consider how far outside your comfort zone it would be to say, “From now on, I’m going to jump on our trampoline, take those long road-trips I've been avoiding, and tell ladies in the restroom that I’ll leak if they don’t let me cut to the front of the line.” Resistance rears its ugly head when you try forcing big changes on yourself. Instead, focus on making small incremental shifts that ride under your resistance-radar. Maybe start by asking one friend you trust to take a trip to the mall across town, and let her know you have an app on your phone that locates bathrooms along the way. You just may find she needs to “go” as often as you do. Small changes done consistently build courage and a steady stream of victories. As the saying goes, “Yard by yard, it’s hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.”
2. Go deep. When you’re in a situation that has you feeling vulnerable or out of control, notice if your breathing has become shallow. Then take a few deep, slow breaths in and out to shift your body from a stressed state to a calmer, more resourceful state. It helps to make a daily five-minute practice of deep breathing while doing Kegel or other pelvic floor strengthening exercises every morning and evening.
3. Learn from those who have been there. I spent over a year interviewing successful people when I wrote my bestselling book. What they all had in common was a commitment to continuous learning, especially from those who had already done things they wanted to master. To succeed, they were willing to try, fail, learn, and try again. Failure is a necessary part of the process. We as women are conditioned to avoid failure, and not ask for help when we’re struggling. It isn’t always easy to ask for help. Here’s the good news - women are natural helpers. When you seek out communities of women (like the one here) you benefit from the knowledge of women who already know how to manage LBL. One easy way to start learning from those who understand and experience light bladder leakage is to listen to my LBL podcast series on iTunes. Or ask an LBL-related question through the “Just Ask” box. One in three women experience LBL. When you talk with women, your partner, and your doctor about bladder leakage, it really isn’t too much information. It’s simply taking the steps you need to take to learn to manage it.
How about you? Who have you talked to about LBL? And are you glad you did?