How to boost your feel-good hormones
Guest post by Hannah Dixon, founder of pip & expert in all things feel-good hormones, hair, and women's health.
We’re living in a new reality. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives and that includes the balance of our hormones.
It feels like an understatement to say that the world is pretty overwhelming at the moment.
Social distancing and isolation from the activities which normally bring us joy are having a significant impact on our mood, sex lives, and mental wellbeing. Of course, the internet immediately jumped on stories such as a nationwide increase in masturbation and the post-coronavirus baby boom. But several weeks in, these ideals are becoming harder to imagine.
Without adding to the pessimism out there; the catastrophic job changes, relentless media reporting, and loneliness can make the best of us feel down. So think of this as a vibe check (pun intended) on your mental and physical health. Let’s take a moment together to understand how our attitude can help us feel better and release more of that ‘love hormone’ oxytocin for some much needed happy vibes.
Staying happy and healthy during quarantine season
It’s likely we are all suffering from spikes in our stress hormones (such as cortisol) at the moment as we’re apart from our friends and loved ones, further impacting our emotional wellbeing. Stress can wreak havoc on your skin, hair, fertility, and weight so it’s vital we understand how we’re feeling.
It is important that you recognize the importance of your wellbeing. To do this, you can try some of our top tips for boosting your happiness:
Video time with loved ones - schedule calls with friends and family as often as you can. The hours you spend talking with people will boost your happy hormones and help lift your morale, adding a rosier tint to everything else you do during the day. Try virtual dinner parties, brunch catch-ups, or evening chats. For an extra boost, try playing games together virtually on apps such as HouseParty.
Set aside quality time with your partner - spending every waking moment with the same people can take its toll. Try to keep some level of normalcy by continuing to do your own activities. For example, perhaps you work out separately at different times, read in different rooms for an hour or have phone calls with your different friendship groups. Recreating date nights or special moments together will feel that little bit more exciting if you haven’t been on top of each other all day (no pun intended). If you don’t feel in the mood for love-making, even a cuddle will release oxytocin and help you feel that bit more nurtured and content.
Camaraderie, community and volunteering - when we help people, we feel better about ourselves. It puts our own plights into perspective and reminds us that we have the ability to help others and make them happy. Community spirit can be seen everywhere around the globe and reading these news stories and being inspired is a heart-warming way to feel fuzzy. If your street doesn’t have a group What’s App, maybe you could be the one to start it? Drop notes in people’s doors and add them to a group message so you can help anyone in the area self-isolating and in need of support. Creating a local trivia night is also a great way to meet your neighbors with less pressure and a bit of healthy competition gets your adrenaline going.
Make yourself laugh - laughing is a great way to get your feel-good hormones high and smiling is known to make you feel better even if you start out not really meaning it. There are so many wonderful comedians to watch and listen to, try switching some more serious programs for light-hearted tv (or spend 15 minutes giggling along to Tik Tok).
Take the time to care for things - it could be a pet, a plant or your belly! The act of cooking a meal, baking a cake, getting crafty or just looking after your plants is a nurturing act that will stimulate the production of feel-good hormones.
Treat your body with extra care - the nutrition that you feed your body with has a huge bearing on how you feel emotionally as well as physically. For example, carb-heavy meals will make you feel sluggish - something which doesn’t help when we’re currently limited to the activities we can enjoy. Fuel yourself with lots of healthy snacks, proteins, and fresh fruit and vegetables so you feel more energetic and your mind is set up to positively approach each day. If you drink alcohol, try to be mindful of the number of units you’re consuming. It can be a slippery slope when you’re at home with more time than normal, especially if you’re feeling low. If you’re a smoker or vaper, now is the time to try and give up.
- Practice mindfulness - one huge positive of COVID-19 has been that so many companies have opened up their online programs for free. Set aside at least ten minutes a day for mindfulness. The prolonged stress many of us are feeling can trigger existing anxiety or create a base level of stress. Managing stress is vital for our mental health and the quality of our hair, skin, and fertility. Social distancing does not need to mean you can’t socialize and being ‘always on’ at home, doesn’t mean that you can’t also switch off. Phone calls with friends as well as exercise and a digital detox (think books, music, cooking) are the perfect antidote for stress.
We hope the Stix and pip communities are staying healthy and safe — and be sure to let us know in the comments what other self-care practices you’re currently enjoying and recommend!
Hannah is the founder of pip, a modern and sustainable hormone health brand on a mission to support women with better education about their hormones. After 10 years in Marketing, building some well-loved sustainable beauty brands, she is now sharing her hormonal health journey and creating content and products to empower women - be it connected to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause.
A bit about Hannah:
I was born in England, and studied Geography at University College London and lived in London until moving to Brooklyn in the summer of 2017. I’ve been in marketing since I started my career, working in a mix of categories including alcohol and pet food before specializing over the past 7 years in professional hair and skin care.
I love traveling and spent months at a time exploring Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Arctic. My love for travel is founded in a love for observation, taking in new cultures and places - be that in a coffee shop in Williamsburg, or a supermarket in Peru. My partner and I felt a pull to live abroad and experience a deeper and lasting connection with a place we could call home and the bright lights of New York spoke to us.
Story of pip’s founding
I struggled with the contraceptive pill for many years, and ended up stopping taking it completely in my mid-20s. I was then diagnosed with PCOS and it was a big shadow over my life for a few years. Just after that, I spent a year or so suffering from hair loss. And throughout this hormonal health and hair roller-coaster, I couldn’t find information I trusted or understood and I wasn’t taken seriously by doctors.
Once my hair was healthier and I felt happier, I finally opened up to my friends, and I was amazed to hear similar stories connected to hormones which we’d all been silently struggling through. I don’t think many brands support women with the psychological impact of the daily and life stage hormonal changes we go through and I hope pip can be part of the solution by providing women with knowledge and support.
How did the idea develop?
The idea was born at New York’s Botanical Gardens and several months later, the name came to me while I was on a flight back to New York from vacation in New Orleans. Through conversations with friends and strangers, pip has continued to evolve and adapt to provide digital and physical solutions for women to help them on their hormonal happiness journey, be it connected to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause.
Why are you focused on hormone education?
As wonderful as it is to have the internet to turn to for all our questions, the quality of the content and the sheer scale of it can be overwhelming to sift through. Googling your symptoms to try to understand what is going on, especially with something as complex as hormones, can lead to more anxiety. The many myths and misinformation on the web can cause more harm than good and I want to help women understand themselves better with accurate information. I’ve built an advisory board that includes OB-GYNs, Nutritionists, and Doulas to ensure the content we share is verified.
What I’ve learned about hormones and hair loss
Our bodies are in a constant state of flux or homeostasis. Our lives as women can be thought of in cycles, transitions, and life stages. Yet most women don’t understand their cycle fully, many women don’t know much about what to expect with the menopause and we shy away from talking about miscarriages, periods and hair thinning. I’m learning to be more open with my emotions and share my journey publically and I hope this will help give more women the strength to do the same. Breaking taboos and sharing knowledge with our peers will go a long way to helping us understand our cycles and life events much better. One final thought is to remember to be patient with your body and stick to a routine if you’re looking for change. For example, for hormonal hair loss or acne, it is vital, and many of us give up or switch regimens before we’ve had a chance to see the fruits of our labor.