This coming week (May 10-16) is National Women’s Health Week!
It feels extraordinarily important for me to write this relevant post. My BrainCurves wellness community was founded on the hope of creating awareness around the fact that men and women have different minds, bodies, and brains, and therefore, need equally unique mental health guidance.
Even just as recent as the last few decades of the 20th century, scientists legitimately thought that women were just smaller versions of men in all ways, except for in their ability to reproduce. This idea was most blatantly manifested in all-male basic research studies. Female mice and rats were almost never used for clinical trials, because, as many researchers have said, “the menstrual cycle would just create confounds”. If this isn’t a red flag that specialized women’s wellness information was not only scarce, but also clearly needed, then I don’t know what is!
It is exactly that menstrual cycle “dilemma” which speaks to our differences. Menstruating means a cascade of different and uniquely feminine hormones that contextualize our brains throughout our development. In her book, The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, M.D. emphasizes the “What we’ve found is that the female brain is so deeply affected by hormones, that their influence can be said to create a woman’s reality.”
Yes, her reality. That is no small thing!
Our hormone’s can literally create a shift in the way we feel about our world, our futures, our relationships, and ourselves. A brain that has just felt grounded and centered, can switch on a dime to feeling irritable, and frustrated, and engaging in negative self-speak and discourse.
Now, imagine that this switch doesn’t happen merely once a month, but also throughout a woman’s lifespan: from girlhood, adolescence, possible motherhood, to menopause, the latter of which then exposes an entirely new traversable terrain. Differentiating hormones are so potent, that as a girl enters puberty, rates of depression relative to boys begin their 2:1 ratio ascent.
Here’s the bottom line. Different is more than OK. Yet, that difference needs to be recognized so that we can all cultivate an increased sense of compassion and sensitivities for what our neuro-hormonal milieu can elicit. Ultimately, with awareness of difference, more precise and fitting treatment for the plethora of mind-body-brain difficulties we all endure can be a reality.
Here are Five Actions That Will Help You Through Difficult “Hormonal Realities:”
- Self-Compassion: Above all, have some compassion for what your mind-brain-body endure. You are NOT your hormones, and the ability to be kind to yourself will help you ride the waves.
- Self-Care: Listen to your mind-brain-body and heed its call! Need more rest today? Take it!
- Self-Advocate: Talk to your doctor and other health professionals thoroughly about how you feel and how your mind-body-brain health seems to fluctuate in synch with hormonal changes. Ask questions, ask for holistic guidance, and if you are not given the space for this, think about seeking out a practitioner that listens.
- Self-Soothe: Stress reduction techniques will be particularly important during a time when you don’t feel balanced. Mindful-breathing is just one of many ways to relax mind-body-brain so that you feel more grounded. From this more grounded place, you will have a clearer vision of how to take care of yourself, advocate on your own behalf, and generate self-compassion.
- Connect Your Self: Allowing yourself to reach out to others who understand and have experienced similar difficulties is one of the best ways to foster any kind of mind-body-brain wellness. Community is a place where healing is made possible by connecting oneself to others.
How do you cope through more difficult times? How do you think the uniquely feminine brain impacts upon mind-body-brain wellness?
Please share your thoughts or story in a comment or email DrJen@BrainCurves.com
Happy Women’s Health Week. Let’s Thrive!