Signs Your Hormones Are Imbalanced (And How to Balance Them Naturally)

Signs Your Hormones Are Imbalanced (And How to Balance Them Naturally)

Hormones are incredibly vital to all aspects of daily biological and physiological life.

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College permits pushing the boundaries of self-care. Or at least, we permit it to permit us. It's so much easier to surrender sleep to the demands of an essay, a presentation, or a night out. And in many cases, this may be worth it (at least, I told myself this).

Feelings of fatigue and general malaise are therefore part and parcel of the college experience—the symptoms of a difficult workload, good times, and late night philosophizing. But they could also be part and parcel of something else most universities don't openly discuss: hormone imbalance.

When I hear this phrase, I hear all of its attached assumptions: "hormone imbalances" often seem to refer to women, and menstruating women at that. But the term can be applied to men, women, and non-binary individuals, because we all have hormones, and not just those related to our reproductive organs.

Hormones are, in fact, substances all organisms produce to send messages and stimulate actions within the body's tissues and cells. They are incredibly vital to all aspects of daily biological and physiological life.

Hormone imbalances are hard to spot, as many of their symptoms can be attributed to other minor or major medical conditions. Yet they can occur easily, particularly due to stress, which can profoundly altar hormone production.

Here are the signs that you may be experiencing an imbalance and tips on how to align those helpful chemicals appropriately.

Excessive Fatigue

Fatigue is the sensation of heightened exhaustion, particularly that which is said to lie "in your bones." Fatigue can accumulate as a result of sleep deprivation—a common state of affairs in college—emotional issues, nutrition, and chemical imbalances in the body.

In some cases, this fatigue may be related to your adrenal glands, which are critical manufacturers of hormones and regulators of blood pressure and heart performance.

A hormone imbalance may be in play if you've done everything you can to address fatigue with little results: catching up on missed sleep, modifying your diet, or taking steps to boost mental health.

Moodiness or Emotional Swings

Once again, college can be the season of heightened emotion, and for good reason. It's a place of high demands, limitless possibility, and devastating setbacks. Personal life often intervenes helplessly with academic life, and this can generate some serious roller coasters.

It's okay to ride the waves of emotion as they arise. Yet if you feel as if your emotions are wild, unpredictable, and posing a serious impediment to your performance—especially despite attempts to treat them via medication or counseling—you may want to take a look at your hormones.

Digestive Issues

Hormones are essential when it comes to regulation of digestive processes. This is all too easy to forget, especially when it's far easier to blame foods, allergies, and stress.

A hormone imbalance can lead to nausea, constipation, and general stomach upset, and these symptoms are likely to persist for the extent of the imbalance, particularly if compounded with other symptoms like fatigue and vertigo.

How to Address a Hormone Imbalance

You don't have to visit your physician or sign up for hormone therapy to realign your hormones, although such options do exist for the right individuals. The secret to hormone balance lies first in body awareness—recognizing, for example, that there may be something larger and biological behind your persistent symptoms and that the symptoms exist in the first place.

To cultivate this awareness, try some simple meditations or body scans. Sitting quietly with yourself can be one of the most powerful means of identifying symptoms and their locales. Body scans, in particular, can help you isolate individual symptoms and even guess at their origin.

Next, note your diet. Some practitioners suggest that eating a diet high in protein, fat, and fiber and low in inflammatory foods such as sugars and grains can keep hormonal imbalances at bay. For this reason, it may be wise to trade that late-night pizza slice for something designed to counteract adrenal fatigue, such as amino-acid packed meats and fat-dense avocadoes.

If you are currently following a vegan or vegetarian diet, see if you can amp up your protein intake, making use of more beans, leafy greens, and gluten-free grains.

Adaptogenic herbs, those that specifically target stress, can also supplement this type of hormone-healthy diet. Check out ashwagandha or holy basil for natural remedies to anxiety and thyroid dysfunction. Immune-boosting supplements can also offset adrenal fatigue and ensure that your hormone imbalance does not lead to illness, particularly if finals are on the horizon!

Sleep is also medicinal when it comes to hormone imbalances of any kind. Sleep can be a rarity in college, but it is a key factor in the timing and extent of hormone production. In fact, your body regulates the stress hormone cortisol around midnight. If your body is already pumping out high amounts of this hormone, you may not have the chance to effectively manage it if you are climbing under the sheets at 2 A.M.

Proper sleep—at least 7 or 8 hours a night—can also help alleviate common symptoms of stress, including depression, anxiety, and moodiness. When paired with other stress-relieving habits, such as deep breathing, bed-time rituals, and general mindfulness, sleep can get those hormones back on track in no time.

Lastly, exercise is your best friend when it comes to balancing those important chemical messengers in your body. Aim to get outside or visit the gym three times a week for at least twenty minutes of vigorous exercise, which can—over time—aid in your body's ability to regulate cortisol and process healthy fats. Be sure, however, that you are not over exercising.

Too much time spent at the gym can actually topple your hormone levels, stimulating the overproduction of cortisol, that pesky stress hormone.

It's important to note that some hormone imbalances are more severe than others; some are due to allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other serious medical conditions. For this reason, it's wise to consult a practitioner if your strategies for natural balance prove ineffective.

Even if you aren't currently experiencing a hormone imbalance, these tips can be vital in promoting general heart, mind, and spirit health. And ladies, if it's that time of the month, give yourself some extra love in this department!

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Somehow, I Ended Up With The Best Roommate Known To Man

I've truly been blessed.

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College can be a very stressful experience to prepare for. From orientation to selecting your classes for the semester, your responsibilities quickly pile up. On top of all that, you also have to find somebody who you will be sharing a room with for your first year of college.

After not sharing a room with my sister for several years, I was worried about going back to splitting a living space with someone else. Immediately after I finished submitting my application to finalize my commitment to Temple, the stress of finding a roommate sunk in. Rooms in the residential hall I wanted were filling up quickly, and I still didn't have a roommate.

I was trying to find a roommate, but everybody seemed to already have their living situation figured out. However, one day, I received a message from a girl named Tori. Little did I know, she would become my best friend. I saw her profile prior to on RoomSync, an app for finding roommates, so I was really excited when she messaged me.

We didn't meet until move-in day, which made me a little bit anxious, but right from the start, everything clicked. We have lots of similar interests and living standards. Even though our majors are totally different, hers being biology and mine is English, that didn't stop us from being friends and enjoy spending time with one another.

In just the first weekend, Tori discovered that I hadn't seen a lot of movies that I should have seen growing up. From that point on, she created a list of various movies, and every weekend we watched at least one movie together. I don't think she has shown me a movie that I haven't liked yet, and I'm so glad that we started this tradition.

On top of movies, Tori has also expanded my music taste, which is a very hard thing to do. I couldn't be happier that she introduced me to Dean Lewis and Noah Kahan and then persuaded me to go to their concert in October with her. In general, she has got me more into music and is increasing my knowledge about music overall.

As well as going to a concert together, we also recently went to see my favorite Youtubers when they came to Philly. When we found out that Cody Ko and Noel Miller were going on a comedy tour and coming to our city, we immediately planned to buy tickets. It was a night full of laughs, and I'm so happy I got to spend it with her.

Tori Ploesch

Having a random roommate who is also your best friend is rare. I've heard a lot of horror stories about random roommates, but I honestly can't picture not being friends with Tori. Along with being an amazing roommate, she is incredibly selfless and caring. Her focus is always on helping people, and I admire her for all the hard work she puts into everything she does.

Being surrounded by people in the College of Science and Technology, I know it isn't easy. Because I have a strong dislike of science, I give major props to Tori and her friends in CST. I'm so happy she is studying something she's truly passionate about and will love doing in her future career. Whenever I meet people that want to pursue a career in science or the medical field, I immediately give them immense credit. It's extremely difficult to take that career path, and I'm already excited for Tori and her ultimate success.

College is a time for making new friends that will last even after you stop going to school together. Even though I'm only in my second semester, I know I can trust Tori with anything, and she'll be there for me when I need her. I also know that she'll be 100% honest with me when I need guidance or advice.

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Tori for messaging me to room with her. My college experience has been incredibly positive thus far because she has been with me through it all. I'm extremely grateful for the way things worked out because I couldn't have asked for a kinder roomie.

Thank you, Tori, for not just being an incredible person and roommate, but my best friend as well.

P.S. I can't wait to bake with you in our apartment together next semester!

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What Your 20's Are All About

Authenticity.

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Being a twenty-something is glorious.

It's easy. It's beautiful. It often looks like a pair of designer cut-offs or a laptop on a beach. It isn't terribly serious.

In fact, it's rarely serious. Yet it makes sense--more sense than any other age because it's newly educated, self-discovered, and hopeful.

Right?

This is what social media tells me. It is what college told me. It is something many of us believe.

I am convinced, however, that there is more to it than this.

Someone or some book neglected to add a few more postscripts to this chapter of the Book of Life. Or maybe they were lodged under the "Recommended Reading" portion of the syllabus (and hence overlooked).

Whatever the case, your real twenties are about something in between the really good vodka and the wandering. That something has the power to shape this decade of your life into a different kind of gem.

(Yes, you can cut your teeth on it.)

Uncertainty

College (or life after high school) somehow perpetuates the myth that graduation precedes a concrete stairway. And that stairway leads clearly to a life path, a career, a vision, and a culmination, all to the tune of Jimmy Hendrix.

A bachelor's or associate's degree initiates many into the world of work and careerdom. But it does not necessarily make things any more certain.

Perhaps you've graduated with a degree in French literature and suddenly feel an impulse to stare at lots of graphs and statistics.

Maybe you have no impulse whatsoever. You have hobbies—fixing bikes, swiping left—but cannot seem to grasp a vision.

If you're like I was in my twenties, perhaps you sense you want to do everything your parents didn't, if only your feet would touch ground sometime soon.

This decade is definitively unknown. Not having a solid sense of what comes next is not an inherent fault of yours; it's part and parcel of life's whimsical years.

Want in on a shinier secret? All decades are uncertain. This one just feels the ripest.

If you wake up every morning and have no answers (or job, or health insurance, or girlfriend, or house), great! You're doing this right. Answers will emerge, but in the meantime, sit with the discomfort of being simply where you are at.

Forgiveness

As the decade of uncertainty unfolds, lean into it. I found that I could get more comfortable with being an unknown entity in my twenties by forgiving myself (and others).

You don't have to go to an ashram to practice forgiveness, although I'm not discouraging you from this path. Nor do you have to start embracing a new religion or giving up red meat and Cheetos.

Forgiveness starts with awareness. Beginning to recognize the difference between personal goals and societal demands is the prelude to following a gentler, more visionary path.

When I forgave myself for being a perfectionist, despairing that I would never find a job, and wondering if I really should have chosen my English major, life became much easier.

Science also tells us that our brains are still firing, forming, and developing in our twenties.

As such, friendships may peel away. Certain kinds of knowledge may dissolve. You may start to realize that holding grudges or avoiding conflict isn't worth it anymore—or is now worth forgiveness.

Forgiveness can also be empowering. It's one of many doors that can shuttle you more effectively into the unknown (with grace and a good pair of heels).

Exchange

Everything we learn in childhood, high school, and beyond is not necessarily the truth. The decade of your twenties is about the conscious and willing abandonment of past ideals, notions, and information.

To some, this may be simple rebellion. To others, it may be part of the self's natural evolution.

To me, it's about an exchange.

Being in your twenties can involve trading in those old ideas for more relevant ones. It's like a consignment store for self.

At this stage in life, a lot of things crumble. A lot of new buildings and scaffolding develop. Sometimes, this is brutal. It may feel unfair. It may feel like a relief.

No one is here to say that you have to be the self of your childhood or the self of eighteen (or last year). Mindfully weeding out the old and heralding in a more graceful, informed you will make that part of your thirties that much easier.

Risk

If you haven't gotten the memo yet, this is all really risky.

I mean, trekking across Mongolia, coming out, changing your name, abandoning your career, or taking up deep water diving isn't easy.

Forgiving yourself and leaning into uncertainty—those are hard, too.

A lot can get lost. A lot more can crack, splinter, and explode. It's a minefield for the mind and heart.

This decade may be the riskiest of your life. But that's how you know you're playing a good hand.

Without risk, the path becomes in danger of getting "too comfortable." That's one thing we millennials can agree on, at least—to be comfortable is to be stagnant.

I say, be risky. Feel imperiled, whether it involves a belief system or relationship or vision. On the other side of risk is knowing.

Authenticity

This decade is yours. It can shimmer, darken, or expand depending on what you do with it. No one can tell you otherwise.

Society may urge you to be free, playful, and exuberant in your twenties. Excellent.

It may also urge you to be driven, focused, and cynical. Also excellent.

But your twenties are really all about authenticity, or what you do with it. The greatest years of your life won't necessarily be college—they may just be the ones in which you chose to live powerfully within the scope of your greatest and truest self.

If no one was there to prep you for your twenties, or if you feel that the ones who were got it all wrong, take these words to heart. Be uncertain and timid. But also be audacious and genuine.

The one who's looking closest is, after all, you.

Note: Another version of this piece appeared on Thought Catalog.

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