Towards the end of last week, I (Nikki), found myself more sensitive than usual. I was reacting to things that don’t usually bother me, and my thoughts were taking me to all sorts of unproductive places. For some time I would buy into the commentary, but then I would have these moments of clarity where I could sense it wasn’t ‘me’, and that my thoughts and emotions had been compromised in some way.
Day in and day out our thoughts swirl around inside our heads giving us a running commentating on our inner and outer world; why people are acting the way they are, why we are feeling a particular way etc. Understandably, we’re all pretty attached to our thoughts and emotions. And for good reason…right? They provide us with real-time reliable data about the world. Don’t they? Well if that is the case, how come one day a circumstance can irritate us so strongly, yet on a different day the same circumstance won’t affect us at all?
Let’s face it; we’re not entirely in control of our thoughts and emotions. There are so many external and internal factors influencing us at every given moment. Our environment, lifestyle, pressures, diet, hormones etc. Hormones were the culprit for me last week. So I decided to dig deeper into the science behind how hormones affect our mood.
Here’s what I found about hormones, and here’s what we can do about it to stay centred in the face of them (men, don’t think you are off the hook)!
Hormones are powerful chemicals that stimulate, regulate, and control the function of various tissues and organs in the body. As such, they heavily impact our brain chemistry and circuitry, and as a result influence our emotions, mood, and behaviour. For example, estrogen is the hormone that helps to maintain our serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the body. So, when estrogen is low (like in the lead up to menstruation), it can in turn affect our mood. Low estrogen has even been shown to be linked to panic attacks! Interestingly, research shows that women who are premenstrual are apt to perceive comments made about them as negative, even when they are not (well that explains it)! If you are a man and you think you might be off the hook, think again! Less widely known is the fact that men are as hormonally driven as women. Testosterone levels in males vary daily, monthly, seasonally, and throughout one’s life – and they can influence mood and behaviour too. Of course, it is also important to note that men living with low testosterone levels can use medications such as sildenafil to give them a boost. You can learn more about these types of medications that can also be used to treat erectile dysfunction and impotence by visiting the website.
Now, what else can you do to balance your hormone levels?
- When you find yourself over-reacting to things you usually wouldn’t, acknowledge that it might be due to factors outside of your control (i.e. hormones);
- Recognise that you are not your thoughts, nor your emotions, and you don’t have to identify with them or take them too seriously (we find at this stage it helps to laugh at the absurdity of your thoughts);
- Have compassion for how you are feeling right now, and whatever it is that you have said or done as a result;
- Remember that these thoughts and feelings are transient (they will pass through you);
- Go and do something that makes you feel centred in the mean time – watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, have a bath, walk in the park etc.