As we approach the holidays, it can be exciting but a little daunting. There is a lot to consider, such as organizing time with your family, coping with the weather, dealing with Winter illnesses, and juggling your finances. Relationships can become strained, and you sometimes start to feel pretty frazzled and overwhelmed. However, this is not unusual, and science tells us that there is a reason why we feel erratic and out of balance during the holidays. It all comes down to hormones.
How do the Holidays impact your Hormonal Balance?
When you step back and look at the holiday season, it is no wonder our hormones go a little crazy. Stress, increased alcohol intake, unhealthy food choices, late nights, and emotional confrontations all affect your hormones levels. The stress alone increases your cortisol levels, which in turn leaves you feeling cranky and tired. Let’s look at which hormones are likely to be knocked of balance in the holidays:
Which Hormones are Likely to be Affected?
- Cortisol – is the body’s primary stress hormone. Not only does it have an impact on your mood and motivation, but it plays an essential role in digestion, blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels, and your sleep cycle. The stress of the holidays can increase cortisol levels having an impact on both your emotions and health. High cortisol levels can result in poor sleep, increased weight gain, high blood pressure, low mood, among other symptoms.
- Insulin – controls your blood glucose levels, helps your body turn glucose into energy, and helps your body store energy. Overindulging in carbohydrate filled holiday food can raise your insulin levels. If you have too much insulin, it can lead to low glucose levels causing you to feel down, dizzy, shaky, and unable to concentrate. Persistently high levels of insulin can lead to diabetes if uncontrolled.
- Progesterone – is a female sex hormone and not one you may think may be affected by holiday stress. However, progesterone is a pre-hormone of cortisol. So, in a stressful situation, you may need more cortisol than your body can produce. In this case, it uses progesterone, leaving you with low progesterone levels. Low progesterone can lead to anxiety, depression, low mood, headaches, and an irregular menstrual cycle.
- Leptin – is known as the starvation hormone. It is released from fat cells to tell your brain that you have enough fat, suppressing your hunger. Leptin helps your body to maintain its weight. However, leptin levels can be affected by lack of sleep. So, if you have many late nights over the holidays, it may knock off your leptin levels. Too much or too little leptin can lead to depression, high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Top Tips to Maintain a More Normal Hormonal Balance?
- Monitor your caffeine and alcohol intake and cut it down where you can. It’s easy to reach for a coffee or a glass of wine in the holiday period, especially if times are hectic. However, caffeine and alcohol increase cortisol levels. Alcohol can also exacerbate anxiety, low mood, and headaches. Just be mindful of those extra drinks sneaking in.
- Get your beauty sleep. There are bound to be a few late-night holiday parties but balance these out with a good night’s sleep the rest of the time. Ensure you have a healthy night time routine and time to relax before bed. Aim for approximately eight hours of sleep to keep your hormones balanced.
- Everything in moderation. Loading the body with sugary foods can become an everyday occurrence over the holiday season. You don’t need to deny yourself treats but try to maintain a balanced diet as much as possible. Keeping a healthy diet with help maintain your cortisol, insulin, and leptin levels.
- Take some time out and deep breaths. Reduce those stress-induced hormones by taking a little time to yourself. Deep breathing has been shown to lower cortisol levels, increase progesterone levels, and increase melatonin (another hormone that helps you sleep).
- Exercise. The holidays are a time to encourage those brisk Winter walks with family and friends or perhaps a go out for a nice gentle bike ride. Exercise will help reduce cortisol levels, improve sleep, keep your insulin levels under control, and release those feel-good hormones like serotonin to boost your mood and well-being.
By keeping the holiday indulgences under control, taking a little time to exercise, and care for yourself, you can help avoid those hormones wreaking havoc.
Sometimes, you may notice you are having ongoing hormonal problems despite doing all the right things. If you are concerned about hormonal imbalance, then Apollo Medical Associates is here to help. We offer hormone replacement therapy and medical weight loss services to help you get back to feeling invigorated and energized. Contact our team of BHRT experts to schedule an appointment or call us on (719) 477-3135.