The Holidays are around the corner and stress levels are rising – everywhere you go, festive holiday tunes are playing, people are scrambling to choose the perfect gifts and designated friends or family are wondering if they will pass the Martha Stewart Thanksgiving turkey test.
Wonder what this added holiday stress does to your hormones? It does a lot – let me elaborate on which hormones are affected and why they can wreak havoc during these times.
1. Cortisol – this is commonly known as the “stress hormone”. Under chronic stress (like the holidays, traffic jams, boss’s complaints, etc) 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, blood sugar levels drop and your craving for sugary and fatty foods increases. This is also leads to holiday weight gain!
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.
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 insomnia.
Doesn’t sound jolly to you?
Well, here are 7 tips to reduce the hormonal havoc this holiday season.
1. Keep a 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. This helps your body to get the sleep it needs to replenish and restore healthy bodily functions.
2. Have a de-stress routine before going to bed. A warm bath, some slow yoga stretches or mindful breathing can help to get your body grooved for a good night’s sleep.
3. Increase vegetables/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 (we have them at 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.
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 breaths before having that extra glass of wine, piece of 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.