In the modern world, many people are living without the energy they need to live the life they want, or do the things they love. In fact, many of us feel overwhelmed, tired, or run down weekly, if not daily.
This is because nowadays, we experience stress a lot more regularly, and for longer periods of time than our traditional ancestors. Our ancestors were under threat from predators or food famine several times a year. Whereas we experience the demands of the modern world coming at us on a daily basis.
On top of that, part of the problem is the expectation we set for ourselves, that to be successful or important, our lives must be stressful. However, coping with stressors in the modern world is imperative to our energy and ultimately our overall health and vitality.
Let’s have a closer look at how stress is stealing your energy and how this impacts your hormone balance.
Stress and your sex hormone balance
Long-term chronic stress affects both men and women’s hormone balance in different ways. Men’s hormonal systems can tend to cope with higher levels of stress. Having said that, chronic stress can start pushing testosterone to be converted into oestrogen, resulting in oestrogen dominance in men.
For women, the long-term effect of chronic stress is often hormone imbalance. This is because our sex and stress hormones share the same precursors. When under stress, the body produces less progesterone – our all-important calming hormone, because it’s priority is making stress hormones for survival rather than hormones for reproduction. We need progesterone to stay calm, stable and happy.
One of the most commonly seen hormone imbalances is high oestrogen. We see stress contributing to high oestrogen by overloading the liver. An overloaded liver struggles to clear excess oestrogen out of the system. The symptoms of high oestrogen include heavy painful periods, bad PMS and stubborn weight around your hips, thighs and bum.
In order to rebalance high oestrogen levels, we need to nourish liver function.
Many people who experience prolonged stress will also run into adrenal fatigue at some point. Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands can no longer keep up with the required production of your stress hormones, such as cortisol.
Note: while this might make our stress hormone cortisol sound like the bad guy, it is actually one of the primary hormones that we need to get up in the morning. We need it, but only in just the right amount.
Stress can also overload your thyroid. The thyroid gland produces important hormones that control your metabolism, water retention and temperature. When under stress the thyroid works overtime to try and manage the increased demand for energy production.
Understanding the stressors in your life and how to cope is vital to your prolonged energy status and overall health and well-being. Ultimately having the energy to do what excites you is the most important gift you can give yourself.