Tag Archives: hormones

Personal rhythm

Every person has their own rhythm; sleep, energy, hormonal cycles, digestion, that greatly influences performance.  Most writers I know write in the wee hours of morning or late at night when all is quiet and there are no interruptions, many athletes prefer to train in the morning. Some people are full of energy in the evenings and some in the mornings. Daily life schedule is usually fixed, no matter how our rhythms look, and this can sometimes become an enormous stressor.

Many people experience sleeping-problems; they can’t fall asleep in the evening, wake up at strange times, are tired upon waking in the morning… Often it is related to their specific sleep-patterns or rhythms. The same goes for our “daily cycles”; our energy moves in waves and at certain times during the day we have “dips” when we feel tired or un-focused. Over time this can lead to tension and stress.

Most people aren’t even aware of their own patterns, they fight a loosing battle trying to fit into a schedule of work, over time getting depleted and stressed. By learning our patterns or rhythms, we can enhance our performance by time-management and scheduling. So how do we learn our patterns?

Keep a diary for 1-4 weeks where you note your findings:

  • Sleep: When do you get tired in the evening? When do you feel comfortable getting up? How many hours do you need to sleep?
  • “Dips”: Pay attention to when this happens during the day and how often. Note the time.
  • Digestion: How do you feel comfortable with eating? What time? How many times? How much? How long does it take you to digest?
  • Hormones (more obvious for women): Menstrual cycles; how do they affect your performance?

After a certain amount of time, you will notice a pattern in your diary; this would be your basic energy-rhythm. By knowing your pattern you can also fit it with the life you are living. You need to teach yourself to function optimally.

Balance your sleep:

  • Energetic in the evenings, tired in the morning? Do something; take a walk or exercise, prepare for the next day so morning flows easy (get your clothes out, clean the kitchen, pack your bag). Then go to bed. Keep your room dark and cool. Maybe a calming tea or a bath will help.
  • Tired in the evenings, energetic in the morning? Get to bed earlier and get up earlier. Do your exercise in the morning, your daily preparation as well.
  • Waking up in the night at the same hour? When this is caused by stress it is usually very negative; worry, angst, a sense of doom and extremely black thoughts. Then stress-management is a must. If it is “only” waking up it could be that you have left your deep sleep and moved into dream time. Stay relaxed, breath deeply and stay with your dream. Research shows that to remember a dream, we need to wake up after it and stay awake 1-3 minutes, whis means that we wake up many times during the night without being aware of it, usually we just fall asleep again.
  • When you constantly feel exhausted after a nights sleep there is usually stress involved; your brain is not resting and you probably have problems accessing your deep sleep state. Stress-management is needed.
  • Heavy or large meals, alcohol, sugars and black/green tea/ coffee in the evening will influence your sleep negatively.

“Dips”: When you have found the rhythm, use the “dip-time” for de-stress by taking a break, a few minutes is usually enough: Drink water (not coffee), move around a bit, do some deep breathing. A friend of mine goes running or walking in the stairs… whatever suits you. Just move!

Digestion:

  • When do you need your main meal? Morning, noon, afternoon? This is different for everybody.
  • How do you react on what you eat? Maybe you need to change your eating habits? The body needs more time to digest a heavy meal such as steak, pasta, greasy food. If you feel heavy and tired after eating, chances are that you are eating the wrong stuff. Always move after meals; take a walk.
  • How often do you need sustenance such as a fruit? (NOT sugary stuff)

Hormones:

Ladies, we are NOT slaves under our hormones!!!

  • PMS: irritation, anger? Get fish-oil capsules. Use breathing techniques, balancing essential oils, exercise.

We are made for physical movement; to optimize our performance we need to move many times during the day. This will balance hormones, sleep, digestion, mental clarity and moods. MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!

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MOTIVATION WHEN STRESSED

(picture from “The Independent”)

Part of motivation is actually stress; that’s what gives the “kick” to get going. The “good” stress as it is called. But what happens when that “good” stress swamps you? Everything falls apart and instead of giving a kick to get going, it either paralyzes you into either non-action or makes you inefficient. Problem is, we seldom notice it happening, one day our heart is just not in it. And when we are stressed, seriously stressed, how do we find the motivation to deal with it? The very nature of stress is the complete opposite of motivation. It is fine to talk about stress-management and techniques – I do it all the time – but I have also realized that this is not always the solution, since motivation is lacking. We need to learn about stress and our own reactions to it to be able to handle it; nip it in the bud, as it were.

Many years ago I had a break-down from stress and of course I didn’t see it coming; I was having the time of my life and things were going well. Being much in demand, I kept adding to my agenda indiscriminately…does it sound familiar? One day I crashed and everything fell apart. I emptied my agenda and just tried to make it through the days. Even though I was a therapist and had all the know-how to handle my own situation, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t do “all the stuff” to help myself, even though I consciously knew I should. Over time I taught myself to deal with it. This was before stress had become a serious issue, and there was not much help to be found…I just had to figure it out.

When stress is breaking us down we don’t breath, meditate, exercise, eat properly and so on. Even though we know this is what we should be doing we seem to be incapable of doing it, so we take another cup of coffee and force ourselves to push harder to “get on with it” without any motivation for it at all. When the head-aches, back-pains and stomach-pains set in we reach for the pain-killers.

So how do we break this bad circle? How on earth do we find the motivation to deal with our stress? Especially when it seems that the world is caving in on us. This is the inner stress; the invisible enemy that doesn’t really show on the outside, the night-time demons; the angst, fear, sleeplessness, churning thoughts, night-mares, depression and hopelessness. Stress-management starts here; in realizing what you are feeling, when and why. Only then can you start doing something about it. Stress always creates angst and we find ourselves battling invisible fears. The reason I call it “the night-time demons” is because it always happens at night, when we are not occupied. At night they become larger than life, tearing us apart and in day-time we run faster than ourselves to keep these “demons” at bay. This creates a state of chaos in our emotional systems, and we can see no solutions. But there are always solutions.

Start slow, this takes time:

  • Every time the “demon” kicks in, get out of bed, turn on the light and look at it: The first question is: “what can I do about it right now?” The answer is usually “NOTHING.”
  • Drink a cup of tea, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, this exacerbates the angst. Better to realize that you are not going to sleep anyway and do something instead; Write lists; what can I do tomorrow? The next day? Maybe I can talk to my boss, teacher, banker and ask for advice. This is a creative process and it helps your mind to relax.
  • Change one thing to the positive; like exchanging coffee for herbal tea, take a short walk or pay attention to your breathing. Do this at least once a day. Just one little thing that is manageable. Over time you add to it.
  • Cut something out, give yourself a break; Find one thing that you do every day that is not absolutely necessary and cut it out. Again, over time, add to it. One thing at a time.
  • Write yourself into your agenda; Your time to do nothing or do something you want. When in stress we have the feeling that we need to explain or excuse ourselves; you are accountable to nobody but yourself. If your agenda is booked, you say no to other stuff…this goes for your time as well. Nobody has the right to question why you are busy, it is nobody’s business but your own.
  • ASK FOR HELP! I can’t stress this enough. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and there are always people who are prepared to help us when we need it. You are not alone.
  • CRY (if you need/want to); it helps to balance us within when we are “poisoned” by our own stress-hormones. But don’t feel sorry for yourself, remember; you put yourself here in the first place.
  • SAY NO! Don’t add anything to your schedule unless it is for your personal self. You are busy healing yourself; make no mistake about it – this is work.

It is all about self-respect. If you do not respect yourself, how are you going to respect anybody else? You will end up resenting the people around you – even your closest ones. It’s like in the airplanes; First you put on your oxygen-mask, then you help others. So get that oxygen-mask on!

FUN, HAPPY, AMUSING, HUMOUR, LAUGHTER…

laughter-limbic

How laughter works

Everything gets so serious, life is serious. I have had a seriously difficult week and I have been sad. At least I have, over time, learned to look for the positive; both in my situation and around me. When I am sad I want to be amused. I don’t want to talk about my “problems” and I don’t want to be quizzed. I just want a good jolly laugh and some nice pictures/thoughts in my head. Because if I can change my outlook, I can usually find a solution to my problems – just by stepping away from them. Besides which…every cloud actually does have a silver-lining, but sometimes it is sooooo hard to find.

The picture above is a simplified drawing of how laughter works; It sends signals to the Limbic system where everything connected to our Self sit – emotion, learning, memory, hormones… Laughter actually changes the chemical make-up in your brain, increasing the feel-good-hormones and decreasing anxiety and stress-levels. (See earlier posts on aromatherapy for more knowledge of the limbic system.) Actually; The muscular movement alone, of moving your lips into a smile sends this “laughter-signal” to the brain…the same mimicry as seen in crying…and crying releases these hormones as well, making us finally tired and calm.

When I look around I see so many funny things; little every-day exchanges in the street, funny video-clips, ridiculous situations. I think we just need to change our way of looking at the world and instead of using our serious-eyes we should use our funny-eyes.

You know the movie “Sliding doors”? In this movie the main male character has a best friend that he goes to with all his problems. This best friends keeps laughing so hard at the guys stories – and they are truly ridiculously funny – making the main guy so frustrated because he can’t see the humour since he is too involved. The laughing friend….he’s the best character in the whole movie. I am not saying that you should start laughing at other peoples problems… 🙂 but sometimes maybe at your own.

So now I have decided to give something amusing as often as possible on this blog, starting with this:

ESSENTIAL OILS AS MOOD-ENHANCERS

EssentialOils

One of the most useful aspects of essential oils is the mood-enhancing properties. Every oil will create some kind of feeling in you.  To realize why this happens you need to know a bit about how the essential oils work through our olfactory system: (Following is taken from Wikipedia – text & picture; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_system)

<<In mammals, the main olfactory system detects odorants that are inhaled through the nose, where they contact the main olfactory epithelium, which contains various olfactory receptors. These can distinguish a new odor from the background environmental odors and determine the concentration of the odor.

These olfactory receptors are connected to bipolar olfactory receptor neurons in the olfactory epithelium, which transduce receptoractivation into electrical signals in neurons. The signals travel along the olfactory nerve, which belongs to the peripheral nervous system. This nerve terminates in the olfactory bulb, which belongs to the central nervous system.>>

Olfactory_system

1: Olfactory bulb 2: Mitral cells 3: Bone 4: Nasal Epithelium 5: Glomerulus 6: Olfactory receptor cells

You might say that the olfactory receptors in the nose is the only place where the brain sticks out from the skull. In the olfactory bulb (1) there is a series of key-holes which accommodate different molecules. It’s a little like the round peg in the round hole. If the odor molecule doesn’t fit in the key-hole the odor will stay only in the nose, being analyzed by the brain and that’s it, most odors fall into this category. If, however, the odor molecule fits into one of the key-holes it will enter the limbic system of the brain, also called the reptile brain. )Following text & picture is taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbic_system)

In addition, these structures are sometimes also considered to be part of the limbic system:

As you can see the limbic system is situated in the middle of the brain – as if it was the heart of the brain.

The molecular structure of essential oils fit in this key-hole system, so the essential oils do enter the limbic system. The essential oils also transgress the blood-brain-barrier and therefore enters the limbic system through the blood as well. Since many of the molecules in essential oils mimic our own hormones, they can, among other things, help to regulate our hormone-system. Some essential oils are very valuable for mental clarity, help with mood-swings, facilitating sleep and much much more.

In my next post I will tell you a little about the different oils and how you can use them as mood-enhancers.  I will also give you dosages and how-to-use tips. Stay tuned!

STRESS part 1

tree_frostStress is good, stress is necessary and stress is excitement. Stress is what got us, as a species, this far. Without stress not much would ever happen and we would become extinct.

There is a wish to differentiate between stress and stress:
Inner stress/outer stress
Good stress/bad stress
I do not differentiate, stress is stress. Sometimes it leads us forward, even saving our lives. Other times it is deteriorating to health.
Examples of stress:
A new love-affair; we eat less, sleep less, heart goes overtime, as does the brain. We feel great, feeding – as it were – on our natural drugs – hormones.
Danger: blood rushes to muscles and brain, supercharging us for the mission of survival.

Stress as a problem arises when the demands on us are higher than we can answer to, or when we are locked in a situation over which we have no control at all.
Stress is individual, both in how we perceive it – how much stress we can handle – and how it manifests in our lives. The symptoms of stress are always individual, therefore it can be very difficult to pinpoint and manage the problem.

A lot of research is being done to find the “cure” for stress, which to my opinion is pure rubbish; a pill that would stop or inhibit our natural stress-responses would be a catastrophy to mankind.
The only way to handle stress is on an individual level: each person needs to take responsability for their own lives. There is no “cure”, and stress will not go away, or lessen. I believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Since stress is an individual reaction to a given set of circumstances, individuals have to start making choices about what is important. The biggest stressor in society today is the vastness of choice. We never stop wanting more or other.

To be continued…