What’s with all the hormone balance buzz? And what do hormones even do?
Well, according to Hormone Health Network, “The glands of the endocrine system send out hormones that tell each part of your body what work to do, when to do it, and for how long.” In a nutshell, they’re little chemical messengers that impact a slew of bodily functions, like metabolism, growth, sexual function, and mood.
Hormone trouble is usually the last root cause we think of for supporting overall wellness, even though it’s at the top of the food chain for sparking issues like weight gain, gut inflammation, fatigue, acne, and more.
But how do you balance out these chemical messengers for optimal health?
The First Order of Business: Stress Effects
One of the biggest hormone disruptors is yep! You guessed it. Stress.
Unfortunately, most of us are in a constant state of stress from family responsibilities to important work deadlines. This physiological response releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which shut off digestion, increase reactivity and boost our blood pressure and heart rate so we can go into fight/flight/freeze.
This response is healthy every once in a while. But all the time? Not so much. Long-term stress places a lot of strain on our bodies from the 24/7 high levels of stress hormones, making it super important to ease into calmness whenever we can.
Here are three easy ways to add some relaxation into your day!
One of the best ways to lower cortisol levels?
Most of us are always in GO, GO, GO mode, running around trying to get 97 things done at once. But it’s this constant panic “always something to do” that initiates the stress response. If we can slow down, we can relax.
Slowing down can look like taking a few extra minutes to eat a meal, adding another activity to your morning routine, or deep breathing for five minutes before you move on to another task.
Keep in mind — relaxing doesn’t necessarily mean non-doing. You can still move throughout the day in a calm state, but be productive as long as you manage your time well. In fact, working in a relaxed state can actually boost your productivity, concentration, and focus in the long run.
Bring on the R&R!
Studies show that caffeine stimulates the release of cortisol. And while this can be great for those who are too relaxed for their own good (e.g., those who need extra motivation in getting tasks done), the last thing you need is more cortisol if you’re already stressed.
Hello, hormone balance problems!
Instead, switch out your morning cup of joe for a calming herbal tea. Or at the very least, go for matcha tea or decaf coffee. And definitely drop the late-afternoon caffeine consumption!
A 2013 scientific study showed that yoga can directly lower cortisol levels. So, why not add in a quick, relaxing body flow to your morning routine?
- Peaceful Seated Yoga with Sydney Benner
- Rest and Release Flow with Elise Joan
- Self Grounding Yoga with Jacquelyn Umof
- Be Free Flow with Elise Joan
Hone Your Hormone Balance With These 5 Wellness Game-Changers
Hormone balance is more than easing your stress. There are so many factors that go into maintaining happy n’ healthy hormone fluctuations. Everybody is different, which means it’s important to experiment with different techniques.
Here are five wellness hacks to get started with!
#1 Upgrade Your Fats
Fat has gotten a bad wrap for ages. But fats play an important role in supporting hormone regulation. The problem? Man-made fats like trans and hydrogenated fats can mess with your hormones and cause inflammation.
Here are some great foods to help upgrade the fats you include in your diet.
- Fatty, cold-water fish
- Coconut oil
#2 Sharpen Your Sleep Habits
Remember cortisol? She’s back with a vengeance when you don’t get enough sleep. Without adequate zzzzz’s, our bodies can’t remove toxins or create hormones very well.
So, sharpen up your sleep habits to make sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours of snooze. If you struggle, try taking a magnesium salt bath, eating a small, high protein/fat snack, or doing some gentle stretching before bed.
Extra wind-down, hormone balance help:
- Better Sleep Stretches with Katie Dunlop
- Evening Unwind with Breann Mitchell
- Evening Ritual Do’s and Don’ts for Better Sleep
#3 Watch Out for Sneaky Hormone Disruptors like Plastic
Most plastic products contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that can mess with your estrogen levels.
Trade out your plastic products for stainless steel or glass. A simple swap with super benefits!
#4 Exercise… With Hormone Balance In Mind
While a solid workout can reduce stress levels, overexercising can cause a hormone imbalance. Your cortisol turns sky high!
One of the best ways to avoid this is to listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re ready to pump out a hard workout, go for it! Start light with walking, swimming, or light biking, and see how you feel.
Balance is e-v-e-r-ything.
#5 Love on Your Gut
An imbalance of gut bacteria can directly translate to an imbalance in your hormones. So, if you’re working to even out your hormones, it’s going to be really difficult if your digestive health isn’t doing well.
Treat your gut right! Load it up with healthy probiotics and digestive-positive foods like ginger, sauerkraut, kombucha, olive oil, and bananas.
Balance Looks Different For Everyone
Everybody is different, from how much exercise we can take to what foods agree with our digestion. This is why it’s important to take all advice with a grain of salt, and remember, just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you! As always, talk to your doctor if you’re worried you might be struggling with hormone balance.