How does stress affect hormonal imbalance?
in Stress

How does stress affect hormonal imbalance?

Hormonal imbalance: Hormones have a big influence on how you feel. A hormonal imbalance can lead to all kinds of complaints, from a hectic feeling to sleeping problems. But what exactly are hormones? And what does a hormonal imbalance actually mean? Is a hormonal imbalance caused by stress? Let’s dig deeper into this:

In this article you will read everything you need to know about hormones that are out of balance, the possible causes and solutions. We start by explaining what causes the hormonal imbalance in your body:

What disrupts hormones?

When danger threatens (e.g. tension, an emotional event, an accident), your body produces a lot of adrenaline in addition to being able to fight or flee. Your body is on edge to be able to react. Fortunately, it saves you a lot of suffering!

But in addition to adrenaline, it also rapidly produces another substance: endorphins. This is a narcotic that reduces mental and physical pain. Endorphins also help in the recovery of wounds, and give you a happy, calm feeling. Endorphins can make you feel happy even when you are injured. Visualize the example of a mother with a broken leg comforting her baby after an accident.

Chronic stress

In case of chronic stress, your body continues to produce cortisol until it is exhausted. This has a negative knock-on effect: An exhaustion that leads to a production stop.

The consequences:

  • More pain
  • Faster pain
  • Depressive feelings
  • Concentration problems
  • You don’t like anything anymore
  • Difficulty remembering (cortisol partly takes over the role of endorphins, so the brain is no longer stimulated to remember things. Your body’s in a fight-flight mode)
  • Sleeping problems (falling asleep and sleeping through)
  • Burnout (cortisol = stress hormone takes over the function of endorphins. Cortisol exhausts your body)

Stress and chronic stress are therefore one of the main causes of hormonal imbalance.

What are hormones?

Hormones are substances that are produced at different places in your body such as your ovaries or testicles, adrenal glands and thyroid. Hormones therefore help in various bodily functions and processes. Think for example of the female hormones that are involved in menstruation, pregnancy and menopause and male hormones that are responsible for the production of sperm cells. In addition, your hormones have an influence on your metabolism, digestion and organ functions. Finally, hormones play a major role in your behaviour and emotions.

For example, stress causes extra adrenaline and endorphins to be produced in your body. This enables you to react adequately in dangerous situations. Adrenaline ensures that you are ready to fight or flee, while endorphins act as a kind of narcotic. Endorphins make you feel calmer and happier, even if you are injured. You feel less pain. Endorphins are therefore called natural morphines.

Hormonal inbalance and stress and burnout

How does hormonal imbalance arise?

A hormonal imbalance means that you produce too little or too much of certain hormones. This hormonal imbalance can be caused by various factors. For example, many people suffer from hormones that are out of balance during puberty, menopause or penopause, but certain external factors or hormonal diseases can also play a role. Think for example of the use of hormonal medicines such as the contraceptive pill or hormonal diseases such as PCOS. In addition, certain nutrients and stress can contribute to a hormonal imbalance.

Endorphins are contained in fat, refined carbohydrates and sugar, for example. This makes you feel just as happy and energetic after a bar of chocolate. Unfortunately, this effect is only temporary, after which your body will ask for more. This urge for certain nutrients can in turn lead to health problems such as obesity.

What’s more, when you are overweight, your body produces fewer endorphins, which can be another cause of the hormonal imbalance or maintain the imbalance. Another important cause of a hormonal imbalance is chronic stress. In case of chronic stress your body constantly produces endorphins until your body is exhausted. Also because of this your hormones will eventually get out of balance and you will experience various complaints.

How do you get back in balance?

To get your hormones back into balance, it is important to look at the cause of your hormonal imbalance. Is it due to a natural cause or disease such as menopause or thyroid dysfunction, or is it due to an external cause such as stress or medication? Of course it can also be a combination of both. As soon as you know the cause you can tackle the problem. For example, try to live a healthier life by maintaining a healthy and varied diet and ensure sufficient sleep, exercise and relaxation.

While sleeping you give your body and hormonal system the chance to recover. During exercise your body produces extra endorphins, which in turn has a positive effect on the balance of your hormones. Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands during exercise, also prevents exhaustion of your hormones.

During relaxing activities such as practicing a fun hobby or meditating, the levels of cortisol will also normalize. If you suspect that obesity is a cause of your hormonal imbalance, do not follow a crash diet at all. One-sided and too little nutrition can lead to a hormonal imbalance again.

So remember that you should always take good care of yourself and your body. Avoid sugars, fat, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, smoking and alcohol and choose the healthiest lifestyle possible if you want to get and keep your hormones in balance.

Hormonal inbalance and stress and burnout

Can both men and women suffer from hormonal imbalance?

Both men and women can suffer from hormones that are out of balance. In women, the problem is often better known, because they can suffer during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. However, men can suffer from a so-called penopause. The penopause is popularly referred to as a midlife crisis.

In addition, both men and women can suffer from other causes of hormonal imbalance such as obesity, stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. In addition, both men and women can suffer from hormonal abnormalities or diseases such as, for example, problems with a thyroid that is too slow or too fast, an adrenal gland exhaustion or diabetes.

What is the role of stress on your hormones?

As mentioned briefly before, stress has a major influence on your hormones. Too much stress exhausts the production of endorphins. Endorphins normally make you feel calm and happy, so as soon as this substance is not sufficiently produced or runs out, just the opposite can happen. This is partly because the hormone cortisol takes over this function.

Cortisol ensures that your body goes into a kind of survival state, and therefore exhausts your body both physically and mentally. People with a shortage of endorphins often suffer from an agitated feeling, depressive feelings, pain, concentration problems, sleep problems and a worse memory. Unfortunately, chronic stress and burn-out are common problems. It is therefore important to try to prevent this by avoiding stress and living as healthy a life as possible.

Can you test if your hormones are out of balance?

If you have many of the complaints mentioned above, there is a good chance that your hormones are indeed out of balance. To be sure you can have a special test done, but as this is a complicated and costly examination your doctor will not refer you to it unless there is a medical reason for it. Examples of medical reasons for this include the suspicion that you are infertile, diabetes and thyroid disorders.

If this doesn’t bother you, it’s better to try to change your lifestyle first. In many cases an unhealthy lifestyle and/or too much stress is the cause of a hormonal imbalance. Of course you can always ask your doctor for advice. He can refer you or help you on your way to a healthy lifestyle.

Hormonal inbalance and stress and burnout

Can you treat a hormonal imbalance?

Whether a hormonal imbalance can be treated with medication or another treatment method depends on the underlying cause. If in doubt, always visit a doctor and see what areas you can possibly start living healthier. Because besides the fact that stress and an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to a hormonal imbalance, they also bring a lot of other dangers for your health.

The role of endorphin

Endorphins are called the natural morphine. A pain reliever that makes you feel happier. During exercise (running / cycling etc) endorphins are produced, which ensures that after exercise you often have a very calm and relaxed feeling.

When endorphins rage through your body, the world around you suddenly looks a lot more beautiful. You feel blissful and you’re sure you can handle the whole world. Also by eating sugar, fats, chilli peppers and chocolate, endorphins are created in your body.

Manufacturers play on this and make their products in such a way that you feel good about it. But these sugar and high-fat foods provide a moment of happiness on a very short term. After that, you should replenish it with new sugar and high-fat foods. In the end, this leads to obesity, as a result of which the body naturally produces less endorphins.

In order to restore a hormonal imbalance, it is therefore best to start a healthy, stress-free life:

Hormonal imbalance resolution (tips)

Do you suffer from pain, depressive feelings, concentration problems and sleep problems? Don’t you like anything anymore and do you find it difficult to concentrate? Chances are that your hormonal balance is out of balance. Often stress is the culprit of this imbalance.

To better cope with the pressures of everyday life here are the most effective tips

Hormonal inbalance and stress and burnout

Get enough sleep

Go to bed on time. Provide at least 8 hours of sleep per night, but understand that your body needs more rest during recovery. 9 to 10 hours is not strange then. If you can’t do this at night, make sure you have a power nap at noon, for example. Research shows that powernaps of 10 minutes already have a very useful result on health and recovery of the hormonal system.

Anita writes: because I didn’t manage to get enough sleep during my burnout, I started to use a fixed schedule: to go to bed at 22.00, and not get out before 07.00 hours. That’s how I finally got the button to go from getting sick to recovery.

Besides, don’t take alcohol as a nightcap. Eventually this negatively affects your deep sleep in which you recover.

Make sure you prepare your sleep: don’t do heavy workouts before you want to go to bed, and don’t watch exciting movies, or difficult documentaries. Bring your body and mind into a quiet state before you go to sleep.

Move! Move! Move!

Get out there! Move, preferably in a nice environment, but if you can’t, get out the door and move. If you don’t want to run or cycle, be doubly satisfied with a walk, because for sure: sitting still inside has never made anyone better!

Exercise balances your hormonal balance. It creates endorphins, making you feel happy, it regulates the production of cortisol and prevents total hormonal exhaustion.

Moving also makes you feel physically tired, so you can sleep well again.

Moving requires a certain discipline: Even when it rains, is cold, is too hot, it is good to keep moving (adapted to the circumstances). To make exercise a habit, it is good to keep your training schedule for at least six months. (This also applies to your walking schedule)

Food

To balance your hormonal balance, healthy nutrition is indispensable. We do see many (often negative) consequences of extreme dieting and losing weight. Many diets are based on single-sided nutrition (only proteins or only carbohydrates). The body always stores what was previously deficient. So after a period of deficiency (imbalance) in food, the body will always store (and thus gain weight) what was a deficiency. The yo-yo has begun.

A varied diet, with sufficient fibre, and green vegetables is recommended to achieve a healthy hormonal balance. In addition, drink plenty of water, and be careful with alcohol and coffee.

If you want to lose weight, think about it: If you get less in than you burn, you lose weight. A crash diet is not part of a healthy balance, and disturbs your hormonal balance, whereby a healthy diet that reinforces

Yeah, I recognize my situation. Now what?

If you suspect that you have a hormonal imbalance, you can subscribe to the newsletter. You will then receive tips every Friday on how to deal better with stress and fatigue. You can also download the E-Book to improve your sleep. Probably the best thing to do is to get to work on the causes of your stress.

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Training and coaching

Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.

Milltain for private individuals:

Are you stuck in life because of stress or a burnout? We developed an effective online programme that is fully focused on the complete recovery from a burnout. More than 2000 people have successfully completed this training!

Movement and nature play prominent roles in this training. Recovery is a process that contains peaks and troughs, and that’s something we know all about. Our highly experienced coaches provide you with active support.

Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching

Milltain for organisations:

With the help of a team of experienced trainers, Milltain supports organisations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. A single burnout can easily cost an organisation € 70,000 (or more!)

In addition to financial suffering, the human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before long, you find yourself in a negative vicious circle.

Get long-term absence and stress among employees under control with the help of our highly effective team training via Zoom or a similar tool.

This training has proven to be an international success for both managers (leadership skills) and employees (dealing with stress).

Learn more: Online team training

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About the author
My name is Ruud Meulenberg. Owner and founder of Milltain and Meulenberg Training & Coaching.
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