Michelle Leftridge Smith
Hormones for the Holidays
While oh so joyful, the holiday season can bring overwhelming pressure, especially for women who shoulder a majority of the burdens that include hosting family gatherings, shopping for gifts, and remembering their family’s event calendar. As you kick it in Over Drive, as Super Mom and Wife (all the while trying to not smother anyone in their sleep!)
Unfortunately, this time of year’s busyness often equates to increased stress and increase opportunity of unhealthier habits.
And, as women rush to get more tasks completed, their hormones pay the price through imbalances and the onset of uncomfortable symptoms. Understanding how the holidays impact your hormones empowers you to give them the support they need so you don’t have to muddle through what should be a happy time.
In what feels like a non-stop rush to get ready for the season, the adverse effects of stress-related hormonal imbalance soon manifest to alert you to hit the reset button. These signs are like the “check engine” light displaying in your car and warn you that your body’s systems are not running as they should. Symptoms common with increase of stress:
Bowel changes such as diarrhea or constipation
Irritability or mood swings
Some hormones that can easily become out of wack in the HO HO HOrmonal chaos we find during the holidays (and other seasons of abundant stress).....
It is no surprise that the hormone most affected by the holidays is cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands and commonly known as the stress hormone and it also helps regulate immunity and metabolism.
But during times of sustained stress, increased cortisol that is not physically spent causes other bodily functions to slow down or stop entirely, including digestive, reproductive, and immune system processes. Specifically, excess cortisol negatively impacts the sleep-wake balance and the body’s ability to fight off illness. All the more reason to keep your daily, weekly routine of exercise and healthy eating habits.
Because most of your cortisol originates in your gut, eating unhealthily this way will throw off your gut health while causing you to crave unhealthy foods continually. Worse still, if the sugar production triggered by cortisol is not used immediately, more insulin is released to transport it, and it is stored as fat - around your hips and waistline.
Progesterone and Estrogen
In addition to disrupting sleep and gut health, excess cortisol also affects our sex hormones, particularly progesterone and estrogen. Our bodies prioritize stress defense above all other functions, so as progesterone is re-allocated to cortisol production to engage in our body’s natural “fight or flight” response, the progesterone levels needed for hormonal balance drop.
This precious hormone when left out there in high gear can rob you of your Amped Life through the holidays by adding....
Depression or anxiety
How to Help you Hormones
Making small adjustments to your routine and adding beneficial supplements can help rebalance your body.
Alcohol consumption slows liver function and decreases the production of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin needed to reabsorb the water it needs, so it helps your body to limit your holiday alcohol intake and be sure to consume enough water.
Planning ahead and not going to holiday events on an empty stomach helps to not overeat and over indulge in unhealthy foods.
Rest is another way to allow your body to fight hormonal imbalances and relieve stress during the holidays, but it can be difficult to quiet a racing mind trying to remember so much. Sleep is our time to repair, rebuild and that includes your mind and your immune system (not just your muscles). Want to stay strong, keep the strength and gainz you worked so hard on this year? Get your sleep, and try to keep your normal sleep routine!
Exercises helps to balance and regulate your hormones, everyday not just during the holidays! But even more important through the holidays is to keep your routine, allow your body to burn off the excessive cortisol and crazy! You my friend are worth it and when you feel good .... you show up as the best version of you! That's the best Christmas gift you can give yourself and those who love you!