This is the last Friday of March and as Women’s History month comes to an end I want to talk about something that at some time in our lives as women will change our lives in very profound ways. At puberty, our brains are bathed in a healthy dose of hormones that control our rate of growth and development. It was during this time that we became truly women. Hormones control everything from reproduction to salt and water balance. They even control metabolism and emotional states. Much of how we feel and how we behave are a function of hormones and the signals they send to the brain.
Sometimes our hormones can get out of whack, and when that happens our brain begins to send mixed messages to the body. This phenomenon is known as a hormonal imbalance. The top three causes of hormonal imbalance are:
- Poor Nutrition
- Excessive Stress
- Lack of Exercise
The hormone to watch is cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid produced in the adrenal gland. Its main function is to increase blood sugar. However, cortisol controls a host of other functions like suppression of the immune system, aiding in protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, and decreasing bone production. High levels of cortisol in the body is like a ticking bomb that can explode at any time. Here are some factors that may increase your cortisol levels:
- Drinking Caffeine
- Sleep Deprivation
- Severe Calorie Restriction
- Severe Trauma
- Prolonged Stress
The Little Things You Can Do Today
- Laugh – You have to find reasons to laugh at yourself and the situations you find yourself in. Laughing reduces cortisol and increases blood flow. One minute of laughter is equal to ten minutes on a rowing machine! Get in a few deep belly laughs today.
- Dance – Movement and music have both been proven to reduce cortisol. Dancing incorporates both in a fun format that can be as formal as ballroom or salsa and as informal as blasting your favorite song and jumping around. Smile and laugh while you dance for a bonus affect.
- Eat – Starting today eat well-balanced meals. Starvation causes stress and your cortisol levels to skyrocket. Deficiencies in certain minerals like magnesium and fatty acids like Omega-3 can increase cortisol levels. Try to eat on a regular schedule and limit your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils.
So Laugh, Dance, Eat until next week when this blog will be moving to Mondays! That’s right you no longer have to wait till Friday for your weekly dose of little things.
Women In History
Answer: Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States.
Until Next Week,
Nicole McLaughlin, PT
- Hormones and Stress (susannenelson.wordpress.com)
- Magnesium and the brain (sott.net)
- Hormonal Imbalances – Complicated logistics requiring complex solutions (inspiredoc.com)