We all experience stressful situations and difficulties. The question is how are you coping with them?
Are you able to remain calm?
Are you able to return to a relaxed state after the stressful event is over, Or, are you stressing about one small event for the entire day or longer?
Are you, perhaps, spinning in a constant stress cycle and never able to feel relaxed, calm, and safe?
It’s time to kick stress into touch as it is a huge trigger to MANY hormone imbalances.
Why Unpacking Stress is essential to Balance your Hormones.
Your Stress is anything your body interprets as a threat. It may affect health but, at the same time, a state of ill health can both act as a significant source of stress and also sensitize the person to other sources of stress by reducing their ability to cope.
Your major anti-stress hormone is cortisol, produced by your adrenal glands. This hormone helps you react to danger and prepares for a crisis by making extra energy available to your muscles and brain. These are vital responses to keep you safe. However, your reactions to stress are only ever designed to be short-lived. Your body isn’t designed to constantly live in fight/flight mode, so it’s not great if cortisol is being constantly released. Long term high cortisol levels come with downsides, such as a suppressed immune system and compromised digestion and reproduction.
High levels of functional need for cortisol also creates an imbalance in your other hormones which impacts your ability to respond/cope with the stressor and therefore a vicious cycle emerges.
Progesterone, also referred to as the mother hormone, is often associated with feelings of calm, acts as a natural antidepressant, enhances mood and reduces anxiety. If your progesterone dives too low,, your oestrogen levels may result in being too high by comparison, a situation known as oestrogen dominance. Because these two hormones should ideally be in balance, symptoms like irregular cycles, heavy periods, PMS, anxiety, depression, low energy, muscle wasting, difficulty conceiving and low libido could result.
1. Laugh – a lot!
Laughing produces a hormone called Oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone. Oxytocin is a powerful modulator of cortisol and therefore decreases the impacts of stress on your overall system. Laughing, feeling loved, feeling connected to others, physical touch and acts of gratitude are all-powerful contributors to the production of Oxytocin. Try to bring these into your daily routine. Seek friends that you can laugh with. Laugh with your family. Learn from your kids, they find joy and live presently in the day-to-day. If you find it difficult to connect with others during these times, connect with yourself and nature, it can be just as powerful.
2. Alleviating stress with Ashwagandha.
Adaptogens can help to reduce cortisol and lower your stress response. One of the best adaptogenic herbs for stress resilience is Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha has been proven to play a role in supporting stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It has also been studied for its cognitive enhancing, neuroprotective, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, anti-cancer, cardio-protective, and thyroid modulating effects.
supplement with Ashwagandha daily
3. Fats for peace of mind?
Nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia and flax seeds are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which support brain function, regulate blood sugar levels and are rich in B vitamins and magnesium which reduce anxiety and your risk of depression.
Dark chocolate, 70% cacao or greater, is an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the nerves, relieves muscle tension and reduces excitability and irritation.
4. Banishing BPA
Environmental toxins are inescapable in our society today. They are found in the food we eat, the hygiene products we use and the air in and out of our homes. Contaminants like PFCs (perfluorocarbons), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and BPA (bisphenol A) found in plastics affect sexual development by acting as endocrine disruptors. These throw off hormone ratios and create a state of estrogen dominance, where the individual has too many artificial estrogen molecules.
We need to avoid plastics and processed foods that are full of toxic chemicals and stick to organic foods as much as possible.
Use glass instead of plastic
Buy produce in cardboard or organic materials, ideally the fresher the produce the lesser the packaging.
Don’t wash your plastic bottles in the dishwasher – even better, replace them with stainless steel or glass.
Always choose BPA free were possible.
Opt for electronic pay-slips – Did you know paper receipts from restaurants or grocery stores majorly expose you to BPA that can enter your bloodstream through your skin.
5. Up the ‘Anti’ – focus on Anti Inflammatory Eating
Cleaning up your diet is a critical step for improving your hormone balance and stabilizing estrogen levels. Start by removing all inflammatory foods, including refined sugar and grains, soda and sugary drinks, gluten, refined oils, deep-fried foods, processed foods, conventional dairy, grain-fed meat and eggs, and foods that you are sensitive to.
Instead, implement an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan.
- eating lots of greens, vegetables like spinach, kale, chard, broccoli – which are rich in folate and magnesium.
- Opting for herbal teas such as chamomile, herbal and green teas.
- If you have coffee, make sure it is organic and you have it before lunch.
- look for an alcohol alternative, try kombucha or alcohol-free mixes.
- Reduce your intake of refined sugars, found in cereals, biscuits, chocolate, cakes, and even some savoury foods.
- Don’t snack before bed as this can be too stimulating and cause a spike in blood sugar.
- Eat protein for breakfast to reduce the urge to snack on convenient and unhealthy foods to get you through the day.