Body & Mind

Know your hormones…

Since I have been reading a little more about hormonal balances and did a post about the imbalance of hormones, I thought I should get into this a little more.

Dopamine

Our appreciation hormone can be made in differentparts of our brains. Dopamine takes part in motor control, but it is alsoresponsible for our behavior – motivation, rewards and addiction control. Sinceit affects our rewards and appreciation systems, it can motivate a person tofinish and succeed at a particular action. Dopamine helps a person to predict apossible approval from others and makes an association that is stored in memoryfor future decision-making, which helps to motivate a person for future actions.If someone is lacking dopamine, usually neurological and psychiatric problems occur.Also, it can cause an addictive behavior. 

How to activate dopamine secretion? Usually setting a goal and writing out an action plan that shows, step-by-step how the goal will be achieved, can help to make more dopamine. With reaching every little step, the body rewards a person with a little dose of dopamine and a person grows a stronger association with the success and approval of others and that helps to stay motivated to move towards the big goal.

Serotonin

Our happiness hormone is made by our central nervous system and platelets. But, there’s a reason why our gut is called our second brain – 90% of serotonin gets produced in our gut where it helps to regulate intestinal activity. Also, nowadays, serotonin is produced synthetically and is used to treat depression.

Serotoninregulates our mood, self-esteem, sleep, appetite, and memory. One of the biggestserotonin killers is stress. Not only does it make serotonin production weaker,but it also raises cortisol and that suppresses serotonin even more. If you arelow in serotonin you might have not only a bad mood but also a bad memory.

To boostserotonin levels a person has to put themselves in positive situations andlife experiences, to alter the way of thinking. Also, a person has to exposethemselves to as much natural sunlight as possible (even if it’s cloudy outside– you need to get out of the artificial lights). Exercise helps with serotonin developmentin brain and foods that are higher in carbs seem to boost the mood (that’s why,when we’re sad we reach for chocolate or a cookie).

Those are our happiest hormones if we exclude our sexual hormones, who can make us very happy too… But I want to mention cortisol – our stress hormone because there are so many things, we do to elevate it and throw it out of balance, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.

Cortisol

Our stress hormone is produced in adrenalglands and it’s the bodies way of letting you know that something’s wrong. Itis responsible for your blood pressure and cortisol increases the glucoselevels in the bloodstream (to help you in fight-or-flight situations). Also, itregulates your sleep cycle, by helping you to wake up in the morning. If youare in stressful situations, cortisol will do a good job of downregulatingsuch body functions as digestion, reproductive systems, immune systems or evenslow growth process. Why? Because when you have to survive and run away fromthe lion that is attacking you – these are not the functions you need. You needsugar in your bloodstream for the muscle to use for an attack or fleeing.

What happens if you live in chronic stress?

When yourcortisol is elevated for a longer period of time, your body will slow down yourdigestion and elevated cortisol will make you gain weight. You will not be ableto fall asleep easy and get up in the morning. If you are a coffee drinker – becareful with the coffee consumption first thing in the morning. Give yourself aboutan hour or 2, after you wake up, for cortisol to drop a bit. If you drinkcoffee on high cortisol – you will throw it out of balance even more.

In time,you will get higher blood pressure and that will weaken your heart. You canhave chronic headaches and anxiety. Also, you lose perspective on things,because you hyper-focus on one problem that stresses you out. Some speculatethat the infertility epidemic can also be partially blamed on our stressful lives.

All badthings happen when you’re chronically stressed, so to get your cortisol levelsback to normal – get a massage, go outside and meet your friends becausecortisol can lower when you’re calm. Laugh a lot. Maybe find a hobby that doesn’tmake you stressed so your adrenal glands can rest. Yoga or meditation is a goodhobby. Do whatever makes you happy and calm.

None of the thehormones in our body are useless or there for no good reason. We need them all and we need them balanced. Find the balance that works for you to be happy and healthy.

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