Experiencing different and fluctuating moods are normal. Feeling fatigued, lethargic after a long day, the persistent pressures of keeping up with work, family, relationships, personal health, irritability close to menstruation, and prolonged sadness after a personal loss or trauma are all natural shifts in mood. There are many reasons our moods can fluctuate, but what happens when you can’t find a reason for your sadness or depressed feeling? What happens when your fatigue, lethargy, and irritability take on a life of their own and become chronic?
That's when you look deeper into the possible root causes. Hormonal imbalance affects all genders. Mood swings, and fatigue are a common symptom concern in clinical practice. Imbalances often go undetected in conventional medical care but are always chief suspects in functional medicine care.
In this article, we’ll offer effective lifestyle habits you can adopt to help balance your hormones and get your life back on track.
Common Reasons Hormones Imbalance
Keeping balance of hormones is essential to optimal health and longevity. Minor imbalances can cause undesirable side effects. Our modern lifestyle exposes us to hormone disruptors that can contribute to hormonal imbalances that in turn often lead to mood fluctuations.
Here are some of the most common factors that can affect your hormonal balance:
The hormone cortisol is released into our system when we experience stress. If that stress continues over the long term without significant times of rest it can exacerbate health issues, particularly anxiety and depression, and cause an imbalance in hormone production in the body.
Nutrient deficiencies due to digestive issues or a diet that is high in processed foods and/or low in nutrients can disrupt the body’s ability to build hormones and maintain balance.
⦁ Weight Gain
Stubborn weight gain is one of the more common signs of a hormonal imbalance, potentially being eventually attributed to thyroid imbalance, PCOS or perimenopause. However, excess weight in itself can contribute to an imbalance as visceral fat reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin and may also contribute to high estrogen levels.
⦁ Menopause & Perimenopause
A decrease in estrogen levels as women get older can disrupt testosterone and progesterone levels, affecting the entire body. Hot flashes, sleepless nights, mood swings and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance experienced during menopause.
It is well known that steroids and opioids have the potential to disrupt hormones, causing such symptoms as testicle shrinkage in men and male pattern baldness in women. The birth control pill, HRT and fertility meds are also candidates, as synthetic hormones have been known to bind to the wrong receptors, bringing on an imbalance.
Manage Stress to Help Balance Your Hormones & Your Mood
Managing your stress levels is one of the most important things you can do to support your mood as well as your hormonal balance and break the cycle. The following key factors have been shown to make a difference in our ability to be more emotionally balanced and to adapt better to the stressors in our lives:
Just like the health of your teeth is dependent on good oral hygiene, the quality of your sleep is dependent on good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene, at its core, is the sum of behavioral and environmental factors that promote regular, good sleep where you wake up feeling refreshed every morning. Here are our suggestions for sleep hygiene:
⦁ Create a nightly routine and stick to it
⦁ Go to bed at the same time every night
⦁ Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
⦁ No screen time for at least one hour before bed
⦁ Go to sleep on an empty stomach
⦁ Don’t consume caffeine after 12:00 pm
Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet that is nutrient dense, low in sugar, and high in probiotic foods can go far to help manage your stress levels. The links between stress, anxiety, inflammation and the microbiome of your gut are well known.
These suggestions can help reduce inflammation and balance your gut microbiome:
⦁ Plant-rich diet with green, leafy vegetables, low starch carbs like sweet potatoes.
⦁ Add fermented foods such as plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut.
⦁ Limit/Avoid refined sugars. Eat, in moderation, foods sweetened with maple syrup, honey, blackstrap molasses, monk fruit, or stevia leaf extract.
⦁ Avoid processed foods.
⦁ Increase your fiber intake, with whole grains and legumes
⦁ Eat fish regularly or supplement with an omega 3 essential fatty acid supplement.
Regular physical activity helps reduce stress. It stimulates your feel-good endorphins and helps you sleep better at night. 30 minutes of daily, moderate exercise to keep your stress levels in check is recommended. A walk in your neighborhood or local trails, yoga, or sport of choice (soccer, basketball, etc) are all good options. The important thing is that you are active, moving and doing something that brings you relief, happiness.
Setting specific, clear and consistent boundaries in both our personal and professional lives, and sticking to them, is very important during times of high/chronic stress. Setting boundaries around your physical space, your feelings, needs, and responsibilities helps to maintain emotionally safe personal and professional lives. Boundaries act as a stress buffer, keeping us from falling into negative-rumination, mood swings, and patterns of abuse.
Mindfulness & Self-Compassion
Regularly practicing mindfulness helps build an inner strength that makes us more resilient to stress. Show yourself compassion if you don't meet the expectations you set for yourself. Try journaling about what went well and what was positive at the end of each day. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion are powerful tools that can drastically increase our resilience, reduce our stress levels, and balance our moods.
Get a Hormone Check-Up
If lifestyle changes are proving difficult or are not making the difference you had hoped, working with a Functional medicine practitioner is a good next step towards rebalancing your hormones and your mood. Your Functional medicine practitioner can perform tests to check your levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and your thyroid to determine if there is any kind of imbalance. Your practitioner can then guide you through a tailored lifestyle, nutrition and supplement support plan based on your specific results.
At times when your resilience to the ups and downs of life is lower than it should be, we can help. As a Functional medicine practitioner, together we can identify and target your specific imbalances and begin your path to better long-term health. Book an appointment today.
Call or email us at (614) 356-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Desire Wellness Group
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