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?
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.
The physiological response to stress can have many different causes:
- food sensitivities or allergies
- past traumas
- negative self-talk, perfectionist tendencies, people pleasing
- climate change
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.
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.