Previously on Wellness Wednesday, you may have been lucky enough to tune into our Instagram live with Naturopath Belinda Kirkpatrick, where we discussed the close relationship between hormones and mood. In case you missed it, today we will be going through all the main points you need to know about hormones, and how they can help regulate your mood!
Am I in control of my hormones, or do genetics play a part?
To some extent genetics can certainly play a role in hormone regulation, however, they are not the only factor. Although you will never have 100% control over your hormonal genetic predispositions, your environment can help turn them “on” and “off”. Diet and lifestyle can be of major influence to these, helping to encourage either a healthy balance or instead to trigger an excess/deficiency!
What are the hormones that affect my mood?
When referring to females, oestrogen and progesterone are the main hormones that affect mood, with cortisol also being of influence.
Oestrogen is essentially the hormone that just makes you feel good. Although it sometimes gets a bad wrap when in excess or deficiency, in balance oestrogen can actually make you feel vibrant, sexy, and motivated (and who doesn’t want that?!). Also supporting the production of your other “feel-good” hormones known as dopamine and serotonin, oestrogen is arguably the most important for enhanced mood.
A rise in oestrogen is seen around ovulation which is why you’ll generally feel your best at this time, as you experience an elevation in energy, productivity, and creativity. On the other hand, a drop in oestrogen may be seen during menopause, or, in times of rapid weight-loss, carbohydrate restriction, and over-exercise. These situations can result in your period stopping, causing what’s known as “hypothalamic amenorrhea” in some women. Feelings of lethargy, irritability, lower mood, and poor daily ambition are common accompanying emotions throughout these low oestrogen times, making you feel sluggish and not your usual self.
Progesterone is the other female hormone associated with mood, as it promotes feelings of relaxation and calm, even helping to regulate sleep.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you may remember those times when you felt a little blasé about everything, and for some unknown reason adopted more of a “cruisy”, “easy-breezy” attitude towards life. Progesterone is the underlying hormone you can thank for those feelings, as it is particularly high during pregnancy, helping to provide those chilled, stress-free feelings that made you just want to smile and say “ahhh”.
Ideally, progesterone will be dominant around the second half of your menstrual cycle prior to your period. If it is low for varying reasons, this can cause a significant drop in mood as oestrogen is also depleted at this time. Feelings of anxiousness, irritability, sleep deprivation and poor motivation before your period are therefore commonly seen, hence why some women unfortunately suffer from PMS worse than others.
How do I know if my hormones are out of whack?
Although often put down to just “being a woman”, the mood fluctuations that women as a population have to deal with monthly are valid and should not just be brushed aside. Common signs and symptoms you may notice in yourself include:
Lack of creativity
Although everyone feels these issues from time-to-time, it is important not to fall into the pattern of accepting these as the social norm. There are many different changes you can make into your day that will help you take control of these hormonal imbalances, and alleviate their severity.
What can I do if my hormones are out of balance?
Your diet plays a major role in the regulation of cortisol levels (aka your “stress hormone”) in the body, with caffeine, alcohol, and processed sugars all known to elevate it. Learning to sustain your hormones and not excessively raise or diminish them is important for mood and energy, as the issue with the cortisol high that everyone loves to thrive off, is that it inevitably leads to a low – making you feel less energised, motivated, and productive than you were, to begin with!
Tips to help support your hormones through the diet include:
Getting a daily serve of 4-5 cups of leafy greens and vegetables (incorporating our SUPERGREEN SUPERFOOD POWDER is a great health hack to achieve this!)
Taking time-out to eat, and ensuring you take 5 deep breaths before a meal
Minimising processed sugar and alcohol intake (try switching to a protein ball, or kombucha instead!)
Limiting yourself to just one caffeinated drink per day
Always eating something before you drink caffeine
Having some type of protein with each meal (i.e. meat, nuts, legumes, or eggs)
Drinking 1.5-2L of water per day
Eating foods rich in magnesium and B vitamins
Sleep, sleep, sleep!! Yes, we know you probably already assumed as much, but sleep is vital for regulating your mood. Not only does a lack of sleep make you feel tired, energy-less, and lethargic, but it can also deplete oestrogen and progesterone, as hormones are made whilst you sleep. The other pivotal factor for mood and hormonal balance is simply slowing down and being a little more mindful in your day-to-day.
Unfortunately, while there is no magic “slow motion” button out there that you can press to automatically add some down-time to your life, there are some easy little hacks that Belinda suggests:
Use apps such as ‘Headspace’ or ‘Smiling Mind’ before bad, to facilitate sleep
Prioritise sleep for a whole month, aiming for 8 hours of sleep each night
Spend 30 seconds when you wake up, intently going over something or someone in your life you are grateful
Do 5-10 deep belly breaths at different times in your day to reset your HPA Axis (Belinda likes to do this in her car at the end of each day when she gets home, to help clear her mind and disconnect from any stressors in her workday)
Massage some of our SOOTHE ORGANIC MAGNESIUM OIL into your body before bed, to help relax your muscles and enter a deep sleep
When it comes to mood and hormones, finding stability is key. All you need to focus on is balancing your dietary and lifestyle behaviour, and the associated hormonal regulation will come! Plenty of sleep, water, and protein with each meal is the golden trio to start with, as these three changes alone are imperative for hormone production. Also, if you missed out on our Instagram live with Naturopath Belinda Kirkpatrick and want to learn even more about hormones, don’t worry – you can find the entire video here.