The effect of stress on hormone balance

Stress, in whatever form, tends to rob the body of vital nutrients and in doing so strains your nerves and your hormonal system. Due to our ancestral conditioning when we are affected by any form of stress our bodies go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Energy and resources tend to be diverted away from non-essential activities such as reproduction and become focused on areas such as muscles, circulation and adrenals to keep you alert and ready for action. So stress affects your hormonal balance, it can disrupt ovulation and the pattern of your monthly cycle.

Do you know when you are stressed? We usually recognise major stressful events and there may be very obvious physical signs such as shaking, racing heart, headaches, being unable to eat; or mental and emotional reactions such as worrying, shouting, crying or becoming hysterical.

However life’s challenges may become cumulative in their effects, slowly building up so we don’t necessarily recognise that we are under stress. There will be a negative effect on your entire well-being, but the signs and symptoms may be less obvious.

How to Identify Physical and Mental Signs of Stress

1. Changes in sleeping habits.
Nobody knows your body better than you do. You know how much sleep you usually get on a good night, and if you find yourself sleeping significantly more or less than normal, chances are you’re suffering from some form of  stress. A change in sleeping habits is an indication that something is keeping you in an unsettled state.

2. Frequent mood swings.
Take a moment to think back over the last few days and how you reacted to each situation that you had to deal with. Did you handle everything in a calm, controlled, effective manner? If not, you may be affected by stress issues. Frequent mood swings, especially if your mood has swung from frustration, anger and irritability to defensiveness, impatience and overreaction, are a clear indication that stress is working away within you.
Other moods and states of mind to look out for include:

  • Feeling depressed
  • Helplessness with things you can normally accomplish on your own
  • Irrationality in dealing with decision-making
  • Restlessness and anxiety

3. Nervous behaviour
When you start to show physical signs of nervous behaviour, it’s likely a sign that you have a secret stressor. Here are some signs of nervous behaviour which may give you some clues that all is not well.

  • Twitching
  • Fiddling
  • Excessive talkativeness
  • Teeth grinding, (especially in your sleep)
  • Nail biting
  • Pacing

4. Indecisiveness and confusion.
If you’re usually able to think things through with a clear head and now you can’t, it’s likely that you’re struggling with stress. If you feel unable to make a decision, or you are paralysed by inaction then stress may be taking its toll.
Stress can result in you feeling out of control and overwhelmed, even in relation to minor day to day tasks or decisions.