Taking a moment to pause can make all the difference

My Hormonology

Taking a moment to pause can make all the difference

pauseThere are so many benefits to knowing where you are in your monthly cycle–if you’re in Week 1 (which starts with your period), Week 2, Week 3 or your premenstrual Week 4.

For instance, you can predict what your mood will be like, how you’ll be interacting with people, what foods you’ll want to eat and how much money you’re apt to spend. And that’s just for starters.

But, one benefit I especially appreciate about knowing where I am in my cycle is anticipating how things I’m about to do/eat/drink will exacerbate a hormonal effect I’m experiencing–then pausing for a moment to determine if that’s really the right move for me to make.

Let me explain:

Right now I’m in Week 3 of my cycle–a week that starts the day after ovulation and, because of a dip in estrogen and a rise in sedating progesterone, is one where I’m slower, I get more easily tired and I’ve got to push myself a little harder to do the same stuff I was breezing through in my high-estrogen/high-energy Week 2.

So, yesterday afternoon I’d just finished doing a round of errands and wanted to reward myself with a cup of tea. Since I’ve successfully kicked caffeine, I took out my box of herbal teas and selected chamomile since it’s sweet and homey–which is a taste combo progesterone pushes you toward in this week.

But, then I paused–and remembered: Chamomile is a mildly sedating herb. And if I drank it, I’d be exaggerating progesterone’s sleepy effects, making it even harder for me to finish the rest of the many tasks I had left ahead of me.

So, back into the cupboard went the chamomile tea. And I opted for energy-boosting peppermint tea instead.

How can you use this Hormonology Tip in your own life? 

Before you do an activity or consume something that will impact your energy, mood, health, how much money you’ll spend and other facets of your life, pause–then think about how it will exaggerate the hormonal effects you’re already experiencing so you can determine if that’s really what you want to do.

Just a few practical ways you can use this technique:

* In your Week 1: This week, which starts with menstruation, is when estrogen starts out at rock-bottom and slowly rises. And the higher this hormone goes, the more it ups your desire to shop–and boosts your optimism that you can somehow cover the bill no matter how big it gets. So, if you’re on a budget, before you consume something or do an activity that impacts your spending habits, pause–then think about if it will exaggerate rising estrogen’s spend-loving ways or help you curb it. For example, drinking caffeine or alcohol or going on a shopping trip with spendy friends are all likely to amp up your rising estrogen optimism about your money, making you way more impulsive and likely to splurge. On the other hand, reviewing your budget, reminding yourself of a big financial goal or putting money in the bank can all help squelch your hormone-fueled urge to spend.

* In your Week 2: This week, which starts 8 days from the onset of your period, is when estrogen and testosterone peak. As a result, your energy is at its cycle-long high. If you want to keep up your hormone-fueled momentum or make it more intense, then pause before you eat, drink or do other activities–and consider if what you’re about to do will drain your energy or add to it. For example, to avoid sapping your high energy, don’t turn on the TV, which numerous studies show lulls you into a zombie-like state of total inertia. Want to make your high-hormone pep surge even more? Then listen to up-tempo music, take a brisk walk and/or drink caffeine, which will give a turbo-boost to your hormone-triggered zippiness.

However–and this is a big “however”–if you tend to get anxious, antsy, on-edge or stressed due to high estrogen and testosterone in your Week 2, then it’s wiser for you to pause before eating/drinking/doing activities–then consider if what you’re about to do will contribute to your high-hormone energy overload or rein it in. For instance, drinking caffeine and listening to Megadeth super-loud would obviously exacerbate the jitteriness you’re experiencing from high hormones. A soothing cup of chamomile tea and a little Joan Baez would be more relaxing choices.

* In your Week 3: In this week of your cycle, which starts right after ovulation, a lull in estrogen and testosterone combined with a rise in sedating progesterone is dragging down your pep and making you foggy. So, pause before consuming things or doing activities that affect your energy–then consider whether what you’re about to do will drag down your energy even more or lift it up. For instance, consuming alcohol, chamomile tea, eating heavy meals or listening to an annoying co-worker drone on in excruciating detail about her life without politely excusing yourself before your eyeballs roll back into your head will most assuredly exacerbate the tiring effects of your hormones. However, sipping zingy peppermint tea, heading outdoors for sunshine and fresh air and switching to a stimulating task will all help revive you.

* In your Week 4: During this premenstrual week, which lasts for the final 6 days of your cycle, a plunge in estrogen makes you more easily irritated by dragging down your patience and mood. So, pause before making meal choices and choosing activities–then consider if they will worsen your impatience and mood or make them better. For instance, skipping meals and heading to a crowded flea market is sure to amplify plunging estrogen’s negative effects, making you easily ticked off and irritable. By contrast, being sure to eat enough all day and avoiding crowded, noisy, smelly, loud places will help you overcome descending estrogen’s challenges, keeping your mood up.

If you’re new to Hormonology or need a refresher on how your hormones impact you week to week in your cycle so you can figure out what activities, foods and beverages will be impacting you based on where you are in your cycle, check out this quick guide to the female hormone cycle.

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