Our Hormones

IMG_1486
Courtesy of sarahmantellphotography.com

If we ever we need evidence in our own lives that the mind and body are as one, look at the times you have been through hormonal changes yourself.  For women it is easy to      relate to the first day of a period as the most likely time our emotions are affected by the delicate balancing act. Even while losing the plot over some mild indiscretion, we are thinking ‘this is over the top but I can’t stop myself, the words are just pouring out of my mouth’. We are likely to burst into tears for no real reason and feel very sorry for ourselves. Then the blood flows and equilibrium returns, unless your hormones are out of balance.

Pregnancy and giving birth is also a time when a woman’s hormones go through many changes and again our emotions join in the roller-coaster ride.  Sometimes they do not get back to perfect balance easily or quickly and we call this ‘post natal depression’ or ‘baby blues’. Getting pregnant in the first place also requires the hormones to be balanced correctly. The stress hormone Cortisol plays a big part in blocking pregnancy. This is to protect us in times of danger or famine from bringing babies into a difficult situation as any Baby Boom’ will attest; they happen just after wars or recessions not during them. So it works both ways, stress hormones are released into our body when our emotions indicate a threat to our survival to give our offspring the best chance of theirs.

If this isn’t enough we also have puberty and menopause to deal with, again at both these times massive hormonal changes affect our emotional selves.

Men do not escape as easily as you would think at first glance, or is that just from a woman’s perspective?  Puberty hits boys hard, not only physically but also emotionally.  Think of a teenage boy and you can be forgiven for thinking that the sweet loving boy you brought up has been abducted and the aliens left you one of theirs.  Don’t worry, the boy you know and love will return sometime in his 20’s when his hormones have settled down.

All is fine for a good few years until he hits his ‘mid-life crisis’, or the male menopause as it is affectionately known.  His emotions are again all over the place and he starts to feel he hasn’t achieved enough, maybe if he changed something on the outside to make him feel the success that everyone else seems to have, he’d feel better.  He may start by buying a sports car but when the feelings, which are on the inside, do not get better he feels a dissatisfaction with his life.
‘… If you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, maybe it is time to feed your own! …’

Our hormones are not a design fault, they prepare our body for the phase of life we are in at that time, to do what we need to do to survive.  The only problem is we do not live a natural life any more.  Stressful situations release hormones in our bodies to protect us but stress is no longer just about a physical short term threat, it is much more likely to be on an emotional level which is harder to spot.  This causes an imbalance in the hormonal system and around and around we go!

It is no wonder we go into the final phase of ‘fight or flight’ which is ‘freeze’.  Do nothing, pull the covers over our heads and hope that the world, or the predator, or depression as it sometimes labelled, goes away.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland along with adrenalin in response to a stressful situation.  This increases blood pressure and blood sugar and suppresses the immune system so that all energy is directed into the ‘fight or flight’ response, ensuring short term survival.

Cortisol also increases gastric acid secretion and appetite to encourage the consumption of calories, especially carbohydrates, thus giving us energy to escape the ‘danger’.  It also shuts down the reproductive system increasing the chance of miscarriage and in some cases temporary infertility.  This affects both the female egg and the male sperm.  Fertility in both men and women can return when Cortisol levels return to normal.

The first steps to recovery with all of these symptoms and more is to look inside for the answers, learn to relax, live in the present and reduce stress.

Exams

Back to School

At this time of the year students of all ages are about to start a new year of study.  This is very exciting but for many the stress of studying and the inevitable exams feels less exciting and more like dread.  Many students, of all ages, feel under pressure to ‘succeed’ and this pressure can come from schools, Colleges and Universities who are themselves under pressure to perform.  Also parents who want the best for their kids yet find them poleaxed by fear and dread of learning, let alone the exam itself.   However, most of the pressure comes from the student themselves and the lack of belief that they are good enough.  Sadly if they believe they are not good enough they will never allow themselves to reach their full potential.

fishReaching our full potential is not about being in competition with anyone else.  No one is any more or any less than another.  We are all able in different ways and learn in different ways, it is a matter of each of us finding our own unique way and being the best we can be, for ourselves.

There has been a 200% increase in the need for counselling for exam stress, with 87,500 visits to the Childline website on this subject. (Daily Echo 30th May 2015).  It costs schools and colleges £480 for each student to re-take key subject exams, therefore it would be beneficial to both students and schools if students were calm and happy when studying and sitting exams.

‘Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.’

Oprah Winfrey

There are many techniques and methods to overcome these stressors and make learning more enjoyable.  Helping increase a child’s self-belief, reduce their stress, teach mindful relaxation, concentration, study motivation and memory recall techniques go a long way toward this.  Along with the dreaded exam nerves, these are just a few of the aspects of the work I do with students, either 1:1 privately or small groups in schools and colleges.  I have 29 years expertise in helping people to believe in themselves and begin to change self-limiting negative thinking patterns.  Neuroscience has now proven this is possible, it is called Neuroplasticity.  The creation of new neuro-pathways in itself creates changes in behaviour and response.  Hey presto, change is born!

Change is not as hard as you would imagine,  we are constantly changing.   If you feel you could benefit from changing any negative feelings you experience when studying, sitting exams or any other area of your life, contact me and I will show you how easy change can be.  This obviously applies to students of all ages!

 

Age

ReikaI was reading an article written by a teenager about her problems with depression and an eating disorder whilst at University. She said that she was sent to a Counsellor for help but the lady was old and how could she know what it was like to be a teenager. I was astounded that an intelligent young lady could believe such a thing, does she think the lady was born old?

The lady had been a child, pubescent, a teenager, a young lady, possibly a mother, may have had fertility problems, relationships, good and bad, seen her own children through their teens, a middle aged woman, been menopausal … and was now an older woman. She will have lived through many failures and successes, ups and downs and survived them. It is a privilege to grow old, not everyone makes it. With age comes an understanding of all the different phases of life, including teens. How many teenagers know what it is like to live through any of the phases of life they will one day face themselves? The biggest lesson age teaches is  ‘.. this too will pass’.

Young people rarely stop to think one day they too will be an old person, or think what it must be like to be dismissed as having nothing to offer any more. Every old person you meet has had a life, many if you stop to listen to them would surprise you with the things they had done in their life.   One lady I met some years ago walking her dog on the beach, looked every day of her eighty something years. She had to sit down at regular intervals to rest weary limbs and catch her breath. She told me about her experiences living in war time, her modelling career, the men who had pursued her, the different businesses she had run, her marriages and her children. This would be quite a life today but in the 1930’s it must have been brave, yet now people were walking past her without giving her the time of day?

How much could that teenage girl learn from listening to her story?

We must remember we will all be old one day, if we are lucky, and in the meantime we have the choice to live each day as if it means something. Release the self destructive behaviour and enjoy the present moment. The lady on the beach still felt twenty years young inside because who you are inside your body does not age! Age is between the ears … so tap into the wisdom of the elderly if you get the opportunity, you may learn something you come to rely on one day.