Holidays Wreaking Hormonal Havoc?
Joyful times, right? The malls are filled with holiday shoppers bustling to find the perfect gifts for their friends and family. Silver bells and colorful decorations abound. You’re in a winter wonderland…
Wait – is this really happening?
What’s really happening?
- I’m so tired and irritable,
- The holidays make me crazy!
- I’m snapping at the slightest irritation.
- I want to stop the festive holiday music –please Alexa, "stop the music!"
Sound familiar? Well, you’re NOT alone! These times these can be extremely overwhelming and stressful, especially when they wreak havoc to your hormones.
Which hormones are affected and why?
1. Cortisol – this is commonly known as the “stress hormone”. Under chronic stress (like the holiday lines, traffic jams, boss’s complaints, person cutting you off to get that last parking space) your adrenal glands produce high levels of cortisol leading to changes in many hormones, especially raising the levels of insulin.
2. Insulin – as insulin levels rise, your blood sugar levels drop and the craving for sugary and fatty foods increases. This is also leads to holiday weight gain! Muffin top, anyone?
3. Estrogen and Progesterone – under chronic stress, you may stop your menstrual cycles for a period of time (this is known as hypothalamic amenorrhea) or notice more hormonal fluctuations with hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and mood swings. Bloating, swelling, weight gain,
4. Melatonin – this hormone helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Usually, cortisol and melatonin levels are balanced with high cortisol/low melatonin levels in the morning and low cortisol/high melatonin levels at night. This helps keep your sleep/wake cycle in a regular, healthy rhythm. With stress, this balance is disrupted leading to less restful sleep and more insomnia. Just want you wanted for the Holiday Season, right?
Well, here are 7 tips to smooth the holiday hormone roller coaster. Buckle up!
1. Keep a sleep routine for your ZZZ’s: Go to bed at night at the same time and set your alarm clock to rise at a regular time. Yes, there will be holiday parties and festivities but try to do the best you can to stay on your sleep schedule. This helps to replenish and restore healthy bodily functions, and lead to more balanced levels of cortisol and melatonin.
2. Have a de-stress routine before going to bed. A warm bubble bath, some slow yoga stretches or mindful breathing can help to get your body grooved for a good night’s sleep. Maybe put some drops of lavender oil on your hands and breathe in the fragrant soothing aroma.
3. Increase vegetables/follow a more plant-based diet – helps to increase fiber and decrease constipation, which comes with increased stress, as well as providing nutrient-filled foods rather than nutrient-poor processed foods.
4. Beef up on the B’s: B-Vitamins are important for hormonal balance and energy levels. Take a B-Complex vitamin or get B-Complex injections (if you’re local in SD - we have them in my office!) to keep your sanity in check.
5. Limit sugars and caffeine. Talking about irritability? High sugar levels cause increased insulin levels and low glucose levels – perfect storm for energy drops, irritability and losing your cool. Caffeine too close to bed interrupts your sleep so try to stop the java before noon time.
6. Watch the alcohol – try having a glass of water between drinks to help hydrate and reduce the overall amount of alcohol consumption.
7. Breathe – Take a few deep breaths before having that extra glass of wine, slice of holiday cake or cup of eggnog. Just a few seconds of mindfulness can help resist these temptations. One of my favorite mentors is Mel Robbins – she says just 5 seconds can change your life.
Or...imagine you're on the north coast of Sardinia breathing in the soothing Mediterranean air!
In health and happiness,