Do hormones ever make you feel like two different people? If hormonal ups and down’s are a challenge for you, you are not alone! The overwhelmingly most common challenges I hear in my interactions with women, both in coaching and life in general, are surrounding hormones. Hormonal changes make it very difficult for many, many women to consistently maintain a healthy lifestyle, but more so, a healthy mind and spirit. If that’s you, I can deeply empathize. Finding peace and learning to cope with my own hormonal challenges has been one of the single most difficult obstacles in my life.
I believe this is a topic women desire the freedom to speak more honestly about, but also be spoken INTO about. My hope in writing this is to do just that. I pray that I can help shed a little light on a tough topic, and, hopefully encourage you as well.
If I were to describe my own journey it’s felt almost like multiple personalities. Do you relate to this? Part of the month you feel blessed, ready to take to change the world. You sing praise from the mountain tops. You feel confident, happy, secure, joyful, and beautiful. You care well for your family, you have both the desire and energy to be what they need. You live out a healthy lifestyle with ease, exercising self-control and making healthy decisions is easy. You are able to imagine, dream, laugh, and pray. You feel like YOU, the real you, the you you’re meant to be – created to be – the majestic, beautiful, powerful thing called woman.
Then, like the flip of a switch, in a moment, you feel unrecognizable? You find that you can hardly live with yourself, and truth be known are mad at everyone for living around you? You feel like a danger to be around. The word-wounds you feel powerless to control may inflict deep harm to unsuspecting loved ones. It alarms and disturbs you to the core, it feels terrifying. The needs of those around you simply feel like too much to bear. You can’t feel God’s presence, and the volume of the condemning messages in your head are deafening? Your hunger is veracious and seemingly unsatisfied; you desperately wonder why you can’t just control yourself. It feels dark, it feels hopeless, it feels like hell.
Then, just as the weight of it feels like it may crush you and the supply of tears threatens to dry up, with the same speed that it came on and nearly swallowed you up, you once again arise. Suddenly, like the passing of a sinister storm, there is light, there is a lifting and you return.For many of us, this describes the ongoing scenario we experience month after month as our hormones ebb and flow (literally).
Of course before I begin, I have to offer the expected disclaimer. Please understand I am not a medical professional or hormone expert. The thoughts I’m about to share are based on my own successes and experiences only and should not replace medical care.
Also, before I offer practical advice on how to more effectively manage hormonal challenges, I’d like to challenge your thoughts about your hormones. Like most things in life, the bulk of our experience is based on our thoughts and attitudes. When our minds are renewed or presented with a new way of thinking about something, many, many, many times our experiences are instantly changed. The Word explains that, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:22-23New International Version (NIV)
Given the scenario I described above, understandably most women tend to view their hormones in a negative way. Many of us begrudge our hormones. We consider them a force working against us and do everything we can to suppress them along with the emotions they bring. Maybe you see the emotional response hormones can cause as a sign of weakness? Maybe you feel inconvenienced by the fatigue that may force you to slow down? Maybe the cravings at certain points in your cycle feel like an obstacle to a certain “diet” you’re following?
If that sounds like you, I’m going to lovingly challenge your way of thinking for a moment. What if, just what if, all those “symptoms” are actually part of the beautiful gift of being created a woman? What if rather than symptoms they are protective signals from your perfectly designed body intended for self-care? Would you entertain the idea that your hormones are a blessing, a true blessing to be acknowledged, dare I even suggest enjoyed? And, what if I told you that I believe much of the hormone induced suffering we endure is actually more acute because of working so hard NOT to feel it? OK, before you want to punch me, let me explain.
A complex mix of hormones are what make you a woman – a uniquely, masterfully, marvelously made – woman! There is no creation like that of a woman. We are God’s prized creation. He bestowed on us the ultimate responsibility, the ultimate commission – to bear life! As women, the hormones The Maker wove into our bodies by design give us the ability to grow and give birth to life. Now, even if you’ve decided not to have children, or desire to and grieve not seeing that come to fruition, the miracle of womanhood is yours still the same. It’s what makes you who you are, and it is altogether lovely! You are the glory of God!
I firmly believe that over hundreds of years we have lost the compassion for our hormonal bodies that God intended we enjoy. In biblical times, women would have a hormonal hiatus. Umm, yes please! Women would literally be sent to a period time-out! They would be sent away from their families to spend time alone! They would rest, probably cry, and maybe eat lots of chocolate. Then, at the end of that glorious time away they got to take a long bath and return fresh and restored to those they love! HELLO!! Sister, is ANYONE else thinking that is perhaps the most brilliant example of history EVER lost to our culture! I mean seriously! They got it, they understood!
Now we are expected to carry on with our daily responsibilities without missing a beat. There is no tolerance for change in mood. There is no grace for discomfort mentally, emotionally or physically. We just press on. My personal opinion is that all of the emotions that seem impossible to keep under wraps during certain parts of our cycle are possibly some of the most genuine moments of our lives. The hormones don’t cause you to feel something that’s not there, they just make it harder to mask what you’re already feeling. I believe we suffer unnecessarily because we don’t take the time to allow ourselves the kind of self-care the Lord intended.
If you suffer from hormonal ups and downs, I would like to encourage you to consider a new approach to managing them; it’s a grace-filled approach. It’s packed with rest, gentleness, self-kindness, prayer and mercy. Sound pretty different than your usual method? I hope this article causes you to pause, to ponder, to reflect and by the grace of God, to feel more empowered to manage your hormones and the up’s and down’s they bring in a healthful, hopeful new way.
From a very practical standpoint, I’m going to share some tips for managing both physically and spiritually. Again, these are based on my experience and what I believe the Lord has revealed as blessing. They are not medically supported treatment. If you believe that your symptoms require true medical treatment, I would encourage you to speak with a medical professional. For most of us though, I believe that practicing these steps will begin to provide a new sense of hope and relief!
- Rest! Allow yourself the gift of rest. Take a nap! Indulge in going to bed a little earlier! When you’re emotionally and physically fatigued be careful about overloading your schedule and to-do list! I also encourage you to give yourself permission to back off of super intense exercise.
- Drink a ton of water, it actually helps relieve bloating and water-retention.
- Consider allowing yourself to eat the foods your body needs rather than restricting them. I find that if I trust my body and mindfully eat the foods I’m craving (with thanksgiving, not condemnation) I’m blessed by it and feel better. When I try to ignore the need, I’m set up for binging. Trust your body.
- Give yourself time-outs! Practice intentional, healthy self-care – maybe it’s a hot bath, maybe it's reading a book in a sunny chair, maybe snuggling into a comfy spot with something hot and chocolaty. Whatever kind, healthy self-care looks like to you, give yourself permission to enjoy it!
- Consider supplements, vitamins D, E, and B have all been shown to help ease hormone symptoms.
Spiritual Steps: I can’t tell you enough that this is the biggie! When it’s renewed, refreshed and powered by truth, your mind is your greatest asset! However, if we’re not careful, our minds can also be our strongest adversary! Learning how to use your thoughts powerfully for victory will change your life!
- Protect your thoughts from isolation! One of the most dangerous places can be in the isolation of our own minds. So many (SO many) times we suffer within the confines of our own thoughts unnecessarily. There is indescribable power in the discipline of speaking out (confessing) our thoughts and struggles to a trust worthy person under the protective covering of the Holy Spirit. Almost immediately upon speaking it out, the struggle loses power. Having been exposed to the light, its faultiness is revealed. There is a loosing of its grasp in both the spirit and physical realm.
- Remind yourself this is temporary! When you’re in the thick of hormonal challenges, it is easy to feel like it’s going to be that way forever. Intentionally remind yourself that the way you feel, and the thoughts you’re taking captive, are not your “new normal” - they are just momentary. When we remind ourselves that it’s just a few uncomfortable days, but it will pass, we gain endurance. I even put a reminder of this truth as my screensaver so I see it over and over again!
- Worship! Praising and worshiping God are like a protective covering over us. Worship covers us in a shelter, a fortress, a fortified place for us to receive solace, peace and reassurance. When we worship the Enemy can’t reach us.
- Above all else, when the battle rages, we must (MUST) use the single defensive weapon we’ve been given. We must speak the Word of truth. The only way to truly have victory over the tormenting thoughts is to renew our minds. We do that by speaking truth. I know it feels hard when we are weary, but God WILL give you strength and you will be amazed at how the darkness is dispelled in the light of the Word’s powerful truth. Below I’m sharing my top ten go-to verses to speak and pray when I’m struggling. I pray these empower and bless you!
Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2 AMP
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. Romans 12:2 (AMP)
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NLT)
But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT
For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP)
But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope. It is because of the Lord’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23 (AMP)
In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (AMP)
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22