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7 Signs You Might Have A Hormonal Imbalance

7 Signs You Might Have A Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones are in the news a lot nowadays as people begin to realize just how important they are to the health and wellness of the body. As a matter of fact, hormones — chemicals which are released from glands all over our body — are responsible for everything from our sexual development to our metabolisms to the strength and health of our bones.

While the body has dozens of hormones, some of the most important include:

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  • Insulin: Produced by the pancreas, insulin helps to regulate how glucose (sugar) from the food we eat enters our cells, where it is used for energy.
  • Testosterone: Produced in the ovaries and testes, testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is responsible for male sexual development; it also helps with energy levels and to build muscle mass.
  • Estrogen and progesterone: Also produced in the ovaries and testes, these are the primary female sex hormones which are responsible for the menstrual cycle, ovulation and the maintenance of a pregnancy after conception.
  • Cortisol. Produced by the adrenal glands, which lie atop the kidneys, this hormone is produced in response to stress and is part of the “fight or flight” response.

The problem is that, because the hormones are in such delicate balance, if you have too much or too little of a hormone, a whole variety of symptoms can result.  Below are some of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance:

1. Fatigue

Feeling tired all the time, in spite of getting enough sleep, is one of the most common warning signs of a hormonal imbalance.  There are several culprits that could be responsible for this, but insulin is the most likely explanation, particularly when insulin levels remain high due to the development of insulin resistance. The good news is that making dietary changes (such as reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour in the diet), losing weight and exercising regularly can help lower insulin levels naturally and keep the blood sugar steady throughout the day.

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2. Trouble Sleeping

Along with fatigue, insomnia is also a common side effect of a hormonal imbalance.  In men, this can often be a sign that testosterone levels are low, while in women, low progesterone levels are the culprit.  Again, hormone replacement therapy is a possibility, but there are also other more natural options to choose from.  Low progesterone levels can be helped by herbs like chasteberry, while herbs are also available to help increase testosterone as well.

3. Decreased Sex Drive

A loss of interest in sex can be a sign of low estrogen in women and low testosterone in men.  Estrogen levels drop in women around the time they hit menopause.  What many men may not be aware of, however, is that their testosterone levels also drop off after 50, a phenomenon many doctors are now calling “male menopause“. The good news is, however, that testosterone and estrogen replacement therapies are available by prescription, and across the country, more clinics are offering bioidentical hormone therapy as a more natural alternative.

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4. Night Sweats and Hot Flashes

One of the earliest signs of menopause for many women is the phenomenon of night sweats and hot flashes which can make life pretty miserable when you’re trying to sleep and cause a lot of discomfort even during the day.  This is a sign that estrogen levels are beginning to drop as menopause approaches.  Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy can help correct this imbalance. Some women also choose to use herbal therapies such as black cohosh to help.

5. Poor Memory and Concentration

If you find yourself forgetting your purse or wallet on the regular basis or have problems concentrating or focusing at work, these lapses also might be a sign that your hormones — specifically cortisol — is out of balance. When you are stressed for a long period of time, your adrenal glands become fatigued and can no longer produce adequate amounts of cortisol.  And when your cortisol levels are low, this can affect your cognitive functions like memory and focus.

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 6. Emotional Issues

Anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings are also common symptoms with  a hormonal imbalance, particularly with levels of progesterone and estrogen levels that are too low or too high.  Hormone replacement therapy can help to correct a deficiency, while weight loss can help correct estrogen levels that are too high. Again, many women will also use herbs like black cohosh to help correct this problem.

7. Weight Gain

Weight gain — especially weight gain in the abdominal area — is a common problem as well as a very frustrating one. While several hormones can play a role in weight problems, the most common culprits are insulin and cortisol.  When levels of these hormones are high, they signal to the body that it needs to take glucose and store it as fat — usually on the tummy. However, stress management (such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises) can help to reduce cortisol levels while weight loss and dietary changes can reduce insulin levels and make it easier to lose weight.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, be sure to report them to your doctor.  The good news is that hormone deficiencies are fairly easy to diagnose (it is possible to do this either through a saliva test or through bloodwork).

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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