Hormones for the Holidays
“We’ve got a thousand things to do and he’s sitting there watching TV!”
“What is she so upset about? Why can’t she just relax and enjoy the holidays?”
If you’ve ever thought something similar in the past, it’s time to take heart. Chances are he’s not really a lazy jerk and she’s not really a control freak. There’s a holy trinity of hormones that play their (large) part in our lives: testosterone, oxytocin, and cortisol. When we understand these sometimes-bothersome blighters, we may realize that the lazy jerk is really a loving man trying to do what needs doing and that nagging control-freak wife is clearly someone that loves us a great deal.
You probably already know this: cortisol is a major stress hormone. And, however wonderful your life may be, let’s face it: there’s no shortage of cortisol kicking around the average North American lifestyle. Traffic, jobs, homes, families, classes, shopping, traffic – did I mention traffic? In addition to these 'average' stresses, in December there are longer lines to wait in, friends and family visiting, extra cooking to get done, parties to attend, money to spend, and holiday traffic to navigate. Yeah, it’s all fun, it’s all exciting; however, cortisol levels are soaring like pre-mating swifts (those are birds).
Understanding how men and women lower their cortisol levels could be the difference between a relaxed, enjoyable holiday season, or one where our greatest happiness would be nothing more than a good night’s sleep. Some new-ish science has greatly increased our understanding of when hormone levels change – for good or ill.
We’ll start with the guys and testosterone. Men lower their cortisol levels (and thus deal with stress) when they are actively releasing/using testosterone or when they are actively rebuilding testosterone. They do the first by solving a problem, dealing with an emergency, reaching a goal – by being, you know, 'The Man'. They rebuild testosterone while “actively” crashed in front of the TV: think quiet, unresponsive, man-cave stuff. The man with the lowest levels of cortisol rushing 'round inside him is the man that fixes something in his life, and then gets the chance to rest and restore - or 'test-up', so to speak.
For women, it’s all about oxytocin. When her levels of oxytocin are in the process of being rebuilt or released, her cortisol levels, in turn, are dropping and staying sane. She’ll get her oxytocin levels up in a nurturing environment – either one she’s created for herself (and takes the time to revel in), or (heads up partners) from the nurturing attention of loved ones. She’ll then release that lovely stored up oxytocin when she’s the one doing the nurturing. When she can find a happy balance between those two things, life gets rather pleasant.
Guys, give your female partner some oxytocin today – find a way to nurture her. Her happy hormone will rise and, get this, so will yours while you’re finding a way to “fix” that problem! Women, give the man in your life time to rebuild his testosterone, then, give him a list of things you need done. You’ll be helped and nurtured, and he’ll have a clear set of goals to achieve! Happy hormones all round. And Happy Hormones = Happy Holidays. I hope yours are brilliant!
Mona Sims CNPA