Today is the official launch of the "Achieving a Healthy Balance" series my dear friend, Brittany, and I have been collaborating on for some time now. Not only do we share many.many similarities on a personal level, we are beyond being on the same page when it comes to our beliefs and approach to health and wellness. We both value and believe fervently in the holistic approach to health as we understand how important it is to consider and strive for balance in all aspects of our lives. Easier said than done, I know.
Through this series, we hope to address many issues/topics that we believe to be essential in achieving optimal well-being. But honestly, we don’t have a definite agenda as we want this to be an interactive series, in which your curiosity and input are totally welcomed ;). So if there’s something you want to know more about regarding nutrition, fitness, stress, what have you, let us know!
We want to kick-start this series with all issues related to hormones, which are our bodies’ natural chemicals that essentially control every aspect of our health.
First, to provide you with a very general overview of hormones...
What are hormones? What do they do?
We’ve all heard of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, etc., but did you know that we have nearly 200 different kinds of hormones in our bodies?
The word hormone means “to stir up, urge on” and that’s exactly what hormones do. They are chemical messengers that are produced and secreted by the endocrine glands. Once released, they travel in your bloodstream carrying messages throughout the body to specific organs and tissues, including your brain, heart, muscles, reproductive organs, bones, etc. In this way, they aid in keeping communication alive between organs and tissues to regulate various physiological and behavioral activities, such as digestion, reproduction, mood, etc.
What can happen if they are unbalanced?
Hormones are used by every cell in our bodies. I just want to make a little note that even though all cells are exposed to the circulating hormones in the bloodstream, not all cells are affected or react to them. Rather only the cells with receptors for that hormone (hormone’s target cells), will respond to its signal.
Hormones are essential for:
- Growth and development
- Sexual function
Very powerful stuff here! I won’t get into all the details of how our brain is intricately involved in the whole process of hormone release, but the bottom line is that we feel our absolute best when our hormones are in balance with respect to each other. Some hormones make other hormones work better or not work as well. Thus, there’s a very complex interplay between these hormones. And when they are out of balance, it can cause an endless list of problems, including but not limited to:
- Slow metabolism/ weight gain
- Low sexual drive
- Hair loss
What are practical steps you can take to achieve hormonal balance?
The endocrine system is extremely complex and not completely understood, but there are certainly things you can do that will have a profound impact on your body’s ability to produce and balance hormones.
- Managing your stress.
- Eating a well-balanced diet, focusing on whole foods.
- Engaging in adequate physical activity
There are many more ways to balance your hormones naturally, but these are the ones I think are the most fundamental components to living a lifestyle that promotes hormonal balance.
But whatever you do, make certain you...
take the time to take care of YOU!
Let’s start off with stress management because let’s face it – life is crazy! Just when you think you’ve finally climbed and conquered that mountain, another one awaits you. No matter how much we try to escape stress, the reality is we simply can’t. However, what we do have power over is how we handle and cope with that stress to the best of our abilities.
So Brittany and I thought it’d be fun to share on each other's blog how we personally deal with stress. So without further ado, take it away, my friend!
Stress is a part of daily life. Whether it is a traffic jam, running late, or chronic daily stress over work, and illness, etc. Life will never be stress free.
So, why worry about dealing with it?
Stress increases our cortisol which elicits the fight or flight response in our body. This causes us to have a surge of adrenaline to help us to get away from our “predator". When stress is chronic and this surge continues, we start having issues. This ends up altering hormones, raising blood sugar levels, depleting nutrients, decreasing bone mass, decreasing immunity, and causing anxiety. Overall, it decreases our quality of life.
Here are a few of my tips for battling stress:
- Sleep. Really? Even when I have so much to do?? Yes! Without sleep, you are less productive. It robs your body of energy, decreases your thinking ability, promotes weight gain, contributes to mood swings, and yes... increases your stress. Make sure you get adequate sleep to so you can tackle that to do list!
- Declutter. Spend 15 minutes a day just decluttering your work area. When it is clean and organized, you work much more efficiently. Also, declutter your life. If there are things you do that aren’t serving you right now, get rid of them. This leads me to #3...
- Say no... and mean it! When you are already overwhelmed, the last thing you need is one more item on your agenda. It's okay to say no. No one loves you for what you are able to do for them. If they do, you don't need them in your inner circle anyway!
- Don't Procrastinate. I'm a procrastinator at its finest. This is the cause of a lot of my stress. By putting things off, you are found scurrying around trying to get everything done at the last minute. It really isn't worth the extra stress... is it? (preaching to the choir here)
- Eat Well. A balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals plays a huge role in dealing with stress. A poor diet leads to fatigue, mood swings, poor concentration, and decreased immunity. Eat well so that your body can handle stress!
- Bust a move. Take a walk, go to an exercise class, do some yoga. Do whatever you want to move your body. This will do two things for you. It will distract you and allow your mind to calm. Plus, as your heart rate gets going, it will increase your production of endorphins. We all know that endorphins make you happy! Already a gym rat? You may need to exercise less to reduce stress.
- Talk it out. Grab your honey, a good friend, or a family member and just talk through your stress. Sometimes it just feels good to get it off your chest.
- Be flexible. Things rarely go exactly as we have them planned. It's okay... just go with it! Lots of stress would be diminished if we didn't take our plans and ourselves so seriously.
- Pray. As a Christian, I know how important my prayer life is to control my stress. If prayer is not something you do, meditate or just sit quietly for a few minutes to let your mind and body relax.
- Lay off the caffeine. The last thing you need is more stimulants in your body when you are stressed out. Not to mention what that caffeine does to your adrenals during times of excess stress. Drink more water, and I promise you will feel much better than having that extra cup of coffee.
You can also check out my top 3 essential oils for stress relief!
Thanks, friend! And if you want to check out how I handle stress, head on over to Brittany's site! You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.