Your 3 minute guide to hormones running (or ruining) your life
Hormones: complex, unknowable, and responsible for everything from a tsunami of waterworks to volcano-fuelled rage.
Instead of trying to figure out the intricacies of your endocrine system, let’s take a different view of some hormones and how they determine if you’ll be Pollyanna or the Princess of Darkness today. Firstly, estrogen.
I grew up feeling proud to have estrogen coursing through my body because it seemed so much more refined to be a girl than the testosterone-fuelled stench and rowdiness that was teenaged boys. Now as a Fertility Mentor, estrogen has taken on a whole new significance.
Here’s what I’m seeing in my clients and what you may be seeing in your life.
Estrogen is the female hormone so when it’s out of balance, it’s time to look at where you’re out of whack as a woman. Are you doing too much and really need a break? Do you feel like it’s all up to you and others aren’t carrying their share of responsibility?
Doing and moving and carrying the load are masculine traits, so your body is trying to compensate for your masculine behaviour by increasing the estrogen in your body in the hope that you’ll act more feminine: creative, receptive, guided by your intuition about when to rest and when to act.
It’s no coincidence that the physical symptoms of estrogen dominance are much the same as the symptoms of doing too much: aches and pains, anger, irregular menstrual cycle, headaches, cravings, mood swings and fatigue.
When it comes to having a baby, estrogen dominance is asking you to move back into your feminine and allow your partner to fulfil the masculine role, so you have a healthy balance of the two energies needed to conceive. Now we come to progesterone. No one cares much about progesterone until they’re trying to have a baby but there’s a really good reason to make it your hero at any time of life.
You need progesterone to sustain a healthy pregnancy but it’s also called the “rest and digest” hormone. When you’re low in progesterone, you’re likely to be low in calm, fun, and visits to tropical islands too. The next thing you know you have elevated levels of cortisol racing through your body, keeping you in fight or flight for extended periods of time. Cortisol is the natural enemy of progesterone, lowering its levels even more.
To put it another way, cortisol measures your level of stress and anxiety while progesterone measures your level of trust and calm: they’re opposites. You may be carrying a big load but while ever you feel you can handle it and remain calm while getting it done, your cortisol level can stay low. When you freak out and doubt your abilities, progesterone tumbles and cortisol stakes its claim.
To summarise, estrogen dominance usually means low progesterone which often has a side dish of high cortisol. Or if you prefer, piling your plate with a huge helping of masculine responsibility undermines your feminine ability to cope and relax so you constantly feel stressed and anxious.
It’s a cycle as vicious as a Doberman chasing its tail so how do you escape?
Physically, you can eat foods rich in magnesium and vitamins C and B6. These help boost progesterone levels so you’re better able to rest and digest. Think cinnamon, almonds, cashews and brazil nuts, lemons, avocado, carrots and an awesome vitamin C supplement. Mentally, it’s time to lighten the load and ditch or delegate things you really don’t have the time or energy for. There’s always someone else who can do it, although you may need to get comfortable with them doing it differently to you.
Emotionally, take a look at what you’re avoiding by being so busy and where you learnt you had to prove yourself by staying strong in the face of stress. If cortisol is an issue, delve into whether you can be trusted and if you trust others (and the universe) to support you.
Spiritually, the focus is on being still and getting comfortable with yourself. Remember what it feels like to relax and breathe with your belly, not just your chest.
Meditate or just sit in silence for five minutes a day and work up from there. Allow your feminine side to come through in the stillness and lead the way.
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