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Your Guide to Happy Hormones

The Basics

When it comes to optimizing our hormonal health and well-being, starting with the very basics can seem almost too simple. We are programmed to think that a pill or a potion has the capacity to fix us faster and better. The truth is, if we don’t have the basic foundations of health in place like quality sleep, getting out in nature, moving our bodies daily and consuming water than all of that money we shell out on products, pills and potions will be a waste.  

I get it, changing our behaviors can be hard which is why the lure of a pill or potion is so strong!  When navigating implementing new behavior changes, I urge you to reflect on your values; your WHY for making the change. This is the first powerful step to creating a sustainable shift in your behavior. Secondly, start small and change what aligns with your life right now. Forget the shoulds or the all or nothing mindset. What is one thing that seems manageable and maybe even exciting for you to implement in this moment?

sleep is essential for happy hormonesSleep

When it comes to happy hormones we must prioritize sleep. While recognizing that everyone’s life is different and access to a good night sleep can be difficult or seemingly impossible depending on your work or familial responsibilities. Identify what your barriers are for sleep and try to address them.

Are you staring at a blue light past 8PM? When your body is exposed to light (especially blue light) past sunset, it can disrupt the communication between your brain and your ovaries.  Put the phone/laptop/tablet down and pick up that book that’s been collecting dust on your bedside table. Maybe when you first get into bed, squeeze in a mini meditation. Insight Timer is a free app and has many meditations designed to help you drift off to sleep. 

Get into the sun EVERYDAY! Sunlight regulates our circadian rhythm allowing us to sleep more soundly at night. This may not be easy for everyone! If you live in a place that doesn’t always see the sun like in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, then get your Vitamin D levels checked (in an ideal world your levels would be around 50) and talk to your healthcare practitioner about supplementation. Vitamin D is critical for hormone balance.

Managing stress

The physiological response to stress can have many different causes:  

  • food sensitivities or allergies 
  • past traumas 
  • negative self-talk, perfectionist tendencies, people pleasing
  • family
  • work
  • finances
  • climate change
  • over-exercising

The list goes on. How does this impact our hormones? When we are stressed the hormone cortisol is released.  In small bouts, this is normal and healthy. However, many of us are in hyper drive and in response our adrenals are pump out excess amounts of cortisol. The big issue is progesterone, the hormone that keeps us feeling calm and at peace, is the precursor to cortisol. When we are in a state of stress our adrenals require progesterone in order create cortisol. Progesterone is also responsible for nourishing and maintaining the endometrial lining of our uterus for an embryo to be implanted and carried to term. 

When we’re stressed all of the time, regardless of what that stressor is, our progesterone levels can be diminished quickly causing an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. When estrogen is the dominant hormone we are susceptible to a whole bunch of unsavory symptoms like anxiety, breast tenderness and night sweats. 

So where do we begin? Identify some of your biggest sources of stress. Can you remove ONE item off of your plate or modify it in some way? 

Then, identify what brings you to a state of relaxation. That feeling where you can (almost) let go of all that is demanding your attention. This can be as simple as taking three deep breaths, which is scientifically proven to engage your parasympathetic nervous system and downregulate your stress response. Try out one of the many different forms of meditation or yoga.  Go for a walk outside or take five minutes to laugh and connect with a family member or friend.

Identify what it is that allows you to let go of your daily worries, even if just for a moment. Do your best to incorporate your chosen technique as often as possible. It does not have to be perfect, just easy to implement so that it serves as respite and not another chore to add to your already overflowing plate. Inhale. Exhale.

Environmental Toxins

We live in a world where there are toxins in almost every thing we come in contact with from the food we eat to the products we put on our bodies. One of the biggest hindrances on our hormonal health are endocrine disruptors. Xenoestrogens are found as naturally occurring compounds in plants or in synthetic chemicals. Both types of xenoestrogens can interfere with our hormonal communication due to the similarity in molecular structure to the hormones we naturally produce in our body.

Some places to explore decreasing your exposures to endocrine disruptors are:

  • Switch your natural beauty products. (makeup, shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, deodorant). Look for products that that are free from phthalates.
  • Do your best to consume mostly organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products and grass fed, free range meat.
  • Switch to natural cleaning products.
  • Filter your drinking water. You can check out what toxins are in your city’s water source by going to EWG.com.

This topic is vast and can be overwhelming for many including myself. My suggestion is to start with what sounds easy and accept that we will never rid our lives of all toxins, our bodies are resilient and we can only do our best.

Remember, before anything else, identify why you want to make a change. This step is crucial when you are tempted to go back to your old habits. Then choose one or two things from this list that you would like to implement. Behavior change is a process that does not happen overnight. Starting with these three areas will set a solid foundation for any additional forms of healing you include in your wellness routine. 


If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle or are curious about working with Lizzy, please set up a free 30-minute consultation on her website: www.lizzymoran.com

Want to have a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle? Check out Lizzy’s first blog post in the series.

Wellness: Create Your Own Definition

Wellness is a buzzy word these days.

It’s an umbrella term that we can apply to almost anything, and the amount of wellness modalities, practices, and rituals that are out there is frankly overwhelming.

So how exactly do we define wellness for ourselves? Some people might think that wellness is waking up at sunrise and meditating or practicing yoga. If this is your version of wellness, that’s amazing! For me, it’s not at all realistic. But for a long time (and until just very recently!) I thought that this early-rising, lengthy ritual of morning wellness was THE epitome of wellness and what I needed to do in order to consider myself a “well” person.

The truth is, we are not allowed to beat ourselves up with things that are good for us (learned this from a former life coach). If we read self-help books, we can’t punish ourselves for not following their guidance. If we practice yoga occasionally, we can’t berate ourselves in class for not coming more often. If we buy into this cycle of negativity, our vision of self-care and attainable wellness practices will become narrower, and narrower, until we’d rather just call the whole thing off.

What I’d like to propose, is instead of viewing wellness as something that we are grasping for, to view wellness as something that we already do (!) and can layer on to. I have a few suggestions on how to do so below, but above all I want to give you permission to create a new definition of wellness for yourself. One that is free of any outside influence, unique to you, and that you actually enjoy!

food as wellness“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

This is the simple motto of US-based journalist Michael Pollan who explores this idea in his book and accompanying show, “In Defense of Food.” When it comes to nutritional wellness, keeping it simple is the way to go. I also no longer force myself to eat “healthy” foods that I don’t like. If you don’t like the currently trending “super food,” don’t eat it! It’s much easier for me to nourish my body now that I eat foods I enjoy.

Add movement to your meditation.

A seated meditation practice has always been difficult for me, so I was really excited when I was recently introduced to Kundalini Yoga / Meditation. It’s weird, but the repetitive movements that you perform in sets or “kriyas,” are incredibly powerful for moving stagnant energy and uniting mind and body. I would highly recommend going to a class for the full experience (There is a Kundalini-focused studio opening in Seattle this summer!), but you can also find short and impactful Kundalini meditations on Insight Timer or Gabby Bernstein has some good intro ones as well.

wellness teaUp-level the ways you already take care of yourself.

Some days, I wake up late and seem to move straight into my day without even taking a moment to be intentional or breathe deeply. But what do I always do before leaving the house? Brush my teeth and go through my skin care routine. These are ways I already care for my body (but didn’t really count as wellness), and by adding an extra layer of intention like adding a drop of essential oil to my dry brush, or lovingly massaging lotion onto my body, or even listening to my favorite song while brushing my teeth, has allowed me to practice self-care without adding a lot of extra time or steps. What are the things you always do that you could add a little intention to? Here’s a list of 45 small self-care practices if you need some inspiration.

 

Reinvent your definition of wellness.

I will assume that because you are here, you most likely have an interest in wellness. But if any of my words don’t resonate, that is totally okay because I am not for everyone and even more importantly, everyone is not for you! As you chart your own wellness path, you get to choose who your teachers are, where you attend class, and what kind of inspiration you take from those around you. Wellness is incredibly personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. My mission through Three Moon Collective is to introduce and share many kinds of wellness in hopes that they resonate with our community. If you’re interested in being part of this community and exploring wellness with us, I’d encourage you to sign up for our weekly newsletter here, or explore our Collective of diverse wellness practitioners.

For a daily dose of wellness, follow us at @threemooncollective on Instagram. 


Hannah Exner is the founder of Three Moon Collective and still creating her own personal definition of wellness. Follow her at @hannahexner or send her an email at hello@threemooncollective.com. This blog post originally appeared on Head + Heart

The Key to Parenting Peacefully

peaceful parentingI’d like to offer a parenting reframe here around children’s behavior.  Rather than your child giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.  You may have heard this before, but take a moment to really think about it and consider this:  all behavior is an attempt to meet a need. This goes for adults and children.

Thinking about it in this way is so helpful when interacting with your child and when trying to do the emotional work with yourself.  If you find yourself stuck repeating a behavior that you’d rather not, get curious about what need that behavior is trying to meet.  When you dissect it in this way, it becomes that much easier to find another way to meet that need in a way that actually serves you.  

So if you take that same idea and apply to your child when they’re behaving in a way that is less than desirable, look past the behavior.  See through their eyes. What is going on for them?

An example from my own experience: My son can get very obnoxious when he wants to play with his sister.  He’ll start taking her toys, hitting her with his blanket, etc. It is soooo easy to get annoyed and show anger towards him. Why can’t he just leave her alone?!  

But when I look closer, when I take the time to pay attention, I can see that he is doing it in a good spirited way, despite the fact that it’s pissing off his sister.  I can see that he really just wants connection, or maybe he wants play. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the need under the behavior (this is true for ourselves too).  But I know when I get curious and I put myself in his place, I can see that he just doesn’t know a better way to meet that need for connection. He’s not a “bad” kid.

So I step in and offer gentle guidance.  There is no punishment involved. To punish would be to punish for him acting like a 3 year old…which he is. AND a punishment wouldn’t teach him anything about empathy or meeting his needs. All it would do is shut him down.  He might learn to no longer do that behavior, but at what cost? At the cost of developing a deeper understanding about himself, his needs & how to meet them. And at the cost of connection with me. I don’t believe in making a child suffer for going about meeting a need as best they know how.  I do believe there is a way to teach him the valuable lessons through peaceful means.

what peaceful parenting looks likeNow let’s look at me.  If I were to have gotten angry and lost my cool with him, that would have been a less than desirable way to meet my need for peace.  I could have shut that shit down. He would have cried because I yelled but hey, he would have stopped bugging his sister. Less than desirable because it didn’t actually create peace.  

I know you Mamas know how chaotic it can be with little ones. Sometimes you just want everyone to get along, at a reasonable decibel and for the love of all that is holy, give me just 5 freaking mins of not needing me so I can think straight.  

parenting together

The beautiful thing about peaceful parenting is that responding to this scenario with calm, gentle guidance is that I create peace in that moment. I source it for myself…and for my children. Had I flipped my lid, I would have not only contributed to the chaos and lack of peace, but I also would have been modeling chaos and a lack of self control for my children…the exact opposite behavior I’m hoping for from my children.  

AND on top of that, it was a mini moment of connection. It built trust between us & fostered a sense of security. He trusts and feels safe that I am here for him and will do my best to help him get what he needs without making him feel wrong or bad for doing his best.


Written by Peaceful Parenting Coach & Collective Member, Sarah Gimel. You can learn more about Sarah on her Collective page or on her website.

MAPS: A Self-Healing Framework

Through my studies in psychology, mindfulness and meditation, Buddhism, Mysticism, diverse spiritualities, metaphysics, and self-compassion I have learned quite a bit about the practices of self-study and internal listening. While there are many methods that we I use with myself and clients to engage in this process of being present with what is in order to heal and rebuild a deeper connection with the heart, one that I feel called to share with you is one that I developed a few years ago. Through my own process of sitting with my heart and the layers of beliefs and feelings that arose, I intuitively found this self-healing method which I call MAPS. It is an acronym to help provide a framework for somatically grounded, heart centered, shadow work and healing, which breaks down into 4 basic steps:

M: Mindfully notice the suffering that is present.

This is the step where we consciously tune into our experience of suffering on a somatic, emotional, and cognitive level with mindfulness. We bring our mindful attention to our bodies and notice the sensations that arise, becoming curious about them. We bring our mindful attention to our emotions and identify the different feelings that are present, being open to them. We bring our mindful attention to our thoughts, and notice the content, pace, flavor, and quality of them without judgement or following them.

A: Allow the feelings to be present.

In this step we take our mindful noticing of our suffering even further by truly accepting what our experience to is by allowing it to be. By letting go of our minds (now that we have noted our thoughts we can release them with gratitude) and allowing the felt experience of our emotions in our heart and body we give space to the shadows to be known and understood by welcoming them into the forefront of our consciousness.

P: Peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs to get to the core of our present suffering.

After we become mindful of our suffering, and allow it to be, we are ready to work with our heart to understand our suffering. With gentleness and compassion ask your emotion what it is believing. An answer will arise, and in this first layer of belief it may be one you are familiar with from your regular conscious experience of this suffering. With all answers that arise, allow them to be. In that allowance of the belief to be seen and heard, another emotional layer will appear in response to it. After allowing the next emotional layer to be present and felt, again ask this feeling layer what it is believing. Again, an answer will arise stating a new belief. This will again be followed by another layer of emotion. With mindful compassion, gentleness, and allowing we continue to peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs until we find the core of our suffering. This is the place of not only the core belief at the root of our suffering, but the core wound that began it. This is something you will intuitively know and feel. There will be a sense of a bottom to it, and you can recognize it often because it revolves around feeling unworthy in some way. This step is the meat of the practice and depending on the shadow we are working with and how hidden it has been from us (i.e. how many layers we need to go though to get to the core), it may go by quickly or take some dedicated sitting time.

S: Soak with self-compassion.

In this final step, after we have identified the core belief at the root of our suffering, it is time for healing this wounded aspect of self with self-compassion. There may be tears, perhaps a lot of them. There may be moaning and/or sounding. There may be the desire to punch a pillow or stomp your feet. There may be exhaustion and silence. In whatever way it is that your heart wants to express this core wounding, allow it. By allowing and witnessing this expression, you begin to release the emotional energy of the suffering, freeing yourself from it. When the expression has come to its completion, you now have the honor and opportunity of becoming your own source of compassion and healing. By placing a hand on our heart with a compassionate touch and speaking to yourself in a compassionate tone, offer yourself the compassion that you need to hear and receive. This could look like acknowledging the suffering, and the pain of this core wound and the core belief that arose from it. It may include offering yourself forgiveness and understanding. It may be the offering of loving words and affirmations to yourself. It may involve the recognition of how this suffering is common to humanity. It may be the declaration of a commitment to more deeply love, accept and protect yourself in the area of this wounding. Listen to your heart for guidance, as it speaks through you and acts as both the source and recipient of your compassion. The heart will let you know what it needs.

When this process feels complete, continue to listen to your heart. What do you need next? How does your self-compassion continue outside of this sitting practice? Whether your heart guides you to make a cup of tea and watch a movie, to take a shower or a bath, to go out into nature, or to call a family member or friend, continue to strengthen your connection to your “heartuition” and deepen your healing and integration process by listening to the wisdom of your own heart.


Written by Alicia Sunflower of Sacred Spiral Healing Arts
Counselor · Medicine Womxn · Artist