Hormones are the body's special chemical messengers produced by the endocrine glands. They trigger activity throughout the body and regulate most bodily functions. There are hormones that control simple needs like hunger and complex systems like reproduction. There are even hormones that guide emotions and mood. Hormones can be considered the foundations to your body and understanding them can help you take control of your health.
At Eyes Focused on You, our primary goal is to help patients take ownership of their health and achieve wellness by being proactive. As we look at the whole body influence of hormones, it makes sense to learn what we can to keep these systems functioning at their peak. While we’re not here for an anatomy lesson covering the various parts of the endocrine system, let’s look at one system and explore how we can take ownership of keeping that system well.
The Adrenal Gland
Adrenal glands produce cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for helping you stay healthy and energetic. Its main purpose is to control physical and psychological stress. In stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one or going through a divorce, the body will boost cortisol levels in order to cope with that situation. Eventually the cortisol levels will decrease back to normal, but in some people they will stay high or drop too low. One term used to describe this inconsistent cortisol level is ‘adrenal fatigue’. Stressors such as lack of sleep, poor diet, pain, food sensitivities or emotional trauma can all contribute to adrenal fatigue.
Although we may not be able to avoid all of life’s stresses, we can come up with strategies to bounce back or minimize their impact. Developing ways to deal with stress is essential for those with high levels of cortisol. If nothing else, try to remove yourself from situations that lead to your heightened stress levels. Here are some suggestions for managing your stress:
- Get enough sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule
- Rest when you feel tired
- Minimize work and relational stress
- Exercise daily – even moderate walking helps
- Take time for yourself
- Try meditation or relaxation techniques
- Laugh and do something fun every day
- Eat on a regular schedule avoiding excess sugar and caffeine
- Avoid negative self-talk
- Seek counselling for support if necessary
Small problems with hormones can cause serious and life-altering symptoms but when they are in proper balance, hormones help the body thrive. Take one action today toward maximizing your hormone health.