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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You Are Only The Main Character In Your Own Life

It's a hard truth to face, but in everyone else's life, you are only a background character.

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You are the main character in your own life.

This is an obvious truth.

The not so obvious truth is the fact that you are a background character in everyone else's life.

Imagine this. You are getting dressed one morning, deciding whether or not you want to wear red pants, because you are afraid of what other people think. You're worried people are going to judge you, or pass comments on your red pants, or point you out to their friends and talk about you and think about you and your red pants all day long.

Here is the honest truth. This won't happen.

We are quick to worry about what others think of us and assume that other people care much, much more than they actually do because we are the main character in our own lives. To us, we are the most important. You are the star of your own show, dedicated to you for your entire life, with hundreds of thousands of people as background characters. This holds true for you, it holds true for me, it holds true for the person who made your coffee order today or the girl you saw in the grocery store.

Do you know what this truth means? It means that literally, no one cares.

No one cares if you wear the red pants.

No one cares if you cut your hair or get a tattoo or post an Instagram picture with a different edit than usual.

We might think that people care because we don't realize that we are only background characters in other people's lives.

As your temporary, honorary internet spokesperson, I am here to tell you this: since no one cares, you should just do whatever it is that you want to do.

Post two times a day. Three times a day. Seven times a day. Document your life unapologetically. Go through radical changes. Go through subtle changes. Literally just do whatever it is that you want to do because yes, people might think about it for a second. They might stop and show their friend a picture and say "oh, look, _____ went skydiving today" or "____ got a nose piercing". And that will be the end of it. And they will move on. And the next day they will not even remember it.

You are the main character in your own life. So write your own story. Do not let others dictate your novel. Background characters are in the background for a reason.

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This is How You Know You're Dating a Narcissist

A narcissistic partner can be subtle, evasive, and insidious.

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I used to think that narcissists were easy to spot.

Narcissists are the guys at the bar eager to talk about themselves. They're the female besties invested in selfies. Right?

I'm naturally uncomfortable around people with ego-centric agendas.

I excuse myself from these conversations and seek out the party-goers standing by the peanuts. I identify with altruistic self-professed nerds.

But narcissism isn't just about staring at yourself in a mirror. A narcissistic partner, in particular, is subtler than that. If you're dating one, you may not even know it yet. I didn't.

1. Responsibility is an illusion.

At the same time, they fail to take responsibility for their own actions and words—especially if these are harmful. On the other hand, they hoard accolades and social trophies and talk about these constantly.

In the narcissist's court of law, they are the judge and everyone else is guilty. In fact, they love the judge's seat. It's where they flourish.

You will feel that it is frequently your fault. If there's an issue, you're almost always to blame.

You may even find yourself taking responsibility for things that weren't yours to begin with. Many times you do, just to smooth things over.

2. Arguments are unproductive.

Healthy couples argue, so they say. Humans get angry. We get especially angry with the people we love.

Productive arguments move relationships forward. They emphasize an issue or a tension and—hopefully—eventually lead to recognition, discussion, and solution.

It is possible to have unproductive arguments with non-narcissists. But narcissists will always raise their fists, keep blame cards at the ready, and maybe use manipulation tactics to derail the argument itself.

A narcissistic partner leaves the other feeling hopeless, confused, and frustrated. Arguments may become shouting matches or result in insults, emotional abuse, or even violence (in the worst cases).

An argument with a narcissist is a circle designed to tire and distract you. Soon, all you want is to get out of that circle and do something actually productive, like eating ice cream or going on a hike.

You may just want to curl up in a ball and pretend it never happened. The bad news about this is that unresolved arguments become wounds, which fester. (I can show you my own scars from these.)

3. Your passions get the side-burner.

I'm sorry to say it, but narcissists don't put you first.

You may have all of these beautiful, bright intentions to chase your passions, try a new career, and generally improve your life. I applaud these.

But your beloved narcissist won't. He or she could care less at the end of the day. Mine certainly had other interests in mind.

Your partner may show superficial support for these interests. If your passions have any potential of treading on their life path, however, beware.

I wanted to apply for an amazing teaching position for which I was highly qualified. I was tired of my office job as an administrative assistant. I was ready to be a mentor for young minds. The job would, however, require me to move across the country.

You guessed it. My little narcissist simply would not have it.

As your interests get the side-burner, your partner's becomes the main show. You may feel as if you play the role of counselor, advisor, and cheerleader more often than the other way around.

This may even diminish your own desire to pursue what you love. Your narcissist may even celebrate this.

4. He (or she) cheats.

I wish this wasn't on this list. Plenty of cheating partners aren't narcissists. But many of them are.

Cheating is a deceptive maneuver. It can also be a means of acquiring emotional and/or sexual attention many narcissists fiercely crave.

Some narcissists develop sex addictions.

They may only feel comfortable dating multiple men or women (or both) at a time. Narcissists are insatiable for any kind of affection or ego-fattening substances, and lots of it.

Unfortunately, many narcissists are good at keeping affairs on the DL. They fly under the radar. If you are suspicious, they lash out, blame you, or smother their deceit with overt romantic gestures.

If you do catch them cheating, they may fall on their knees and apologize. Mine did. But then they'll wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

5. He (or she) is abusive.

Narcissism is a powerful predicate to abuse of any kind. Narcissists may emotionally manipulate partners or resort to physical violence.

They may resort to psychological taunts or insults to make you feel small and unworthy.

If you believe you're in an abusive relationship, I'm here. I have some words just for you.

6. The truth is hard to pin down.

Because narcissists evade responsibility and half-heartedly participate in arguments, they dance clear of the truth.

They aren't good at providing straight answers. They may hide real answers in roundabout, confusing language. Narcissists will especially sidestep honesty if it has anything to do with their own errors or character.

What does this do for communication? Don't get me started. Conversations without at least a skeleton of truth are frequently harmful, manipulative, or heavy-handed.

They frequently end up in places where they didn't begin. That place is often to blame.

7. Generalizations and judgments are the norm.

My narcissistic partner was the king of charm. He gave good hugs. He had a knack for subtle, intimate compliments. He was witty and observant.

He would also surprise me with judgments or generalizations. When my best friend decided to end our friendship, he told me that "she didn't really have that much potential anyway."

He commented on other women being overweight or unattractive. He occasionally put down people of color. He justified any wrongs I experienced by belittling and flat-out degrading the other person.

Judgments like these act as a screen. They bolster hypocrisy. They also make narcissists somehow look better. (I'm still trying to figure out how this actually works.)

When I eventually left, I experienced this character trait to the full.

8. There are eggshells on your feet.

Narcissists are great honeymooners.

Mine was. They may buy you lots of things out of the blue. They may whisk you away to Bora Bora for the holidays. They may make you feel like a queen.

(You are a queen, but not because of your partner.)

At the same time, there are eggshells everywhere. You tread them every day and many times they cut your feet open. You may wonder if you can say or do anything right.

Bonus: You're wondering if your partner is a narcissist.

If you're already pondering the notion of your partner's narcissism, read this article again. That may be your clue.

Remember that many partners will have a few narcissistic tendencies—this does not necessarily mean that they are full-on narcissists.

Others may be self-aware and invested in your well-being. Narcissism is not the automatic exit for partners in a relationship. Nor is it something that can't ever be changed.

But it is common. Keep your eyes open. Be mindful. And remember that your voice should always be heard.

Note: I originally published this piece on Thought Catalog.

Cover Image Credit:

Daria Shevtsova

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