Something maybe you haven’t thought about in your own personal health and well-being is having “Happy Hormones.” Your hormones influence everything you do, from the amount you sleep, to your mental state; from the size of your waistline, to the quality of your skin. So getting them in balance and “happy” will help set you up for a long day at work, standing on your feet, and dealing with your clients.
The key areas to achieve this hormone balance and get you through the day are Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, and Attitude.
1. SLEEP: When we skimp on sleep, it’s a catastrophe for our hormones. We all know good sleep makes you feel great and look better—it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing; be gone those bags!—but sleep is much, much more than a self-indulgent mood booster and beautifier. Sleep is the magic button that switches off the stress hormone cortisol, turns down the heat on your hunger hormones, boosts your metabolism, fires up your brain, and reverses aging. In short, if you don’t sleep well, you screw up your hormones and get fat, old, tired, and stupid. Your goal should be to go for 7-8 hours per night.
Establish a pattern: Try to get to sleep on work nights at the same time. Save going out if possible for when you have the next day off.
- 6 hours before bed: Have your last alcoholic drink. OK, you may think I’m being unreasonable. Perhaps you can leave it for the weekend when you can sleep in. Remember, every drink you have later than this deadline can interfere with sleep.
- 4 hours before bed: Stop exercising. A workout can leave you healthily tired, but don’t exercise later than four hours before bed. You must allow your body time to cool down to trigger natural sleep. You can do yoga and stretches before bedtime, as these help you relax.
- 3 hours before bed: Take a hot bath or shower to heat your body and then let it cool.
- 2 hours before bed: Turn off your screens. The light from TVs, tablets, laptops, and even your phone, confuses your brain, so it produces less melatonin, which is the all-important sleep hormone. Non-backlit screens such as Kindles are fine. Nothing can’t wait until the morning unless you are saving lives.
- 90 minutes before bed: Dim your lights, as low light triggers melatonin. Set up a dark, quiet room.
- 1 hour before bed: Open a window or turn off the heating in your bedroom. Sleep in a cool environment.
- 30 minutes before bed: Open a book. FACT: Reading something absorbing can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds in just six minutes. Sex and orgasms also reduce stress even quicker, so indulge! Sweet dreams.
2. NUTRITION: You are going to have a long day, standing on your feet and connecting with clients, so your body and brain deserve and need the best nutrition to get you through. So, give your body some love and stay in top form by eating clean and healthy.
- A diet rich in vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants is absolutely key to balancing and regulating your hormones.
- Your hormones control everything about you. A healthy diet will allow you to naturally keep energy up and fight off fatigue.
- Plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients that aren’t just minerals and vitamins. They are powerful antioxidants, which protect our DNA, turn off inflammation, keep our immune systems firing, and give us that extra energy.
- Breakfast like a queen or king. Start your day with a big healthy breakfast.
- Oatmeal (unsweetened) with fresh berries, eggs with whole-grain toast, full-fat, unsweetened yogurt with fruit and nuts. Didn’t your Mom tell you that eating breakfast is good for you? It’s true, your Mom was right!
- Carry nuts and fruit with you for snacking on your break.
- Use cinnamon and honey, instead of sugar, in your coffee.
- Stay hydrated, drink as much water as you can throughout the day. This will keep your joints and muscles from seizing and cramping, and minimize fatigue.
- Foods rich in potassium, like bananas, will also keep your muscles from cramping after a long day of standing.
- Avoid sugar-laden cereals and snacks. Refined carbs and sugar will send your energy levels crashing and leave your body depleted of the vital energy it needs for your demanding job.
- Eating three portions of fruit and vegetables a day makes you look prettier, but also helps to keep your hormones more balanced.
- You’re indoors most of the day, so top up your vitamin D with a good supplement.
3. EXERCISE: You are the face and voice of beauty, and part of being beautiful is being fit. Believe it or not, it’s healthier for you to be standing all day than sitting behind a desk. I know after a long day it’s hard to think about exercise, but the good news is that you can incorporate it into your daily routine, even while working. As long as you keep moving throughout your day, maintain good posture, and get into healthy, easy habits you should be able to maintain a good level of fitness. The better you are, the better you feel.
- Wear comfortable shoes that let you spread your toes out and give you some support. Shoes that are too narrow, have a high heel, or constrict the toes cause circulation problems in the feet. They can lead to cramping, tingling, and numbness. High heels, no matter how much you love them, can fatigue your ankles and muscles in your legs.
- If you can get away with it, wear support hose. The newer styles can even be fashionable.
- Good posture is exercise too. Always stand with your shoulders back and reaching down, chest proud, feet hip-width apart, and your feet pointing forward. Good posture not only protects your back, but also makes you look and feel more confident.
- A strong core aids posture and provides support for your entire body. A simple trick you can do anywhere is bringing your belly button toward your spine, while keeping your shoulders back.
- A quick exercise is to transfer your weight from your tiptoes to your heels, back to your tiptoes and back to your heels. Do this as often as you can.
- When you can, if you need to reach something at a lower level, try doing it with a squat. It’s one of the best exercises you can do if you have to stand for long periods. You can also do them at home, while waiting for your food to cook or watching your favorite program.
- Stretching while at work and throughout your day will keep you strong and supple. Reach up to the highest shelf, engaging your core as you reach.
- Touch your toes as often as possible. Interlace your fingers together behind your back, push down and backwards stretching out your back muscles, while circling your head from side to side. It releases tension in your back, neck, and shoulders.
- On your break, elevate your feet if you can, circling your ankles ten times left and right. Then, with a straight back, flex your feet as hard as you can and try to reach as far as you can get to stretch your calf muscles.
- Give yourself a massage. Get a tennis ball and put it in a long sock and use it to pummel your feet, legs, bottom, and shoulders. This will help your circulation and reduce the tension in your muscles. Then sit down, placing the tennis ball under each bottom cheek and roll it around to relieve the tension in those tight gluteal muscles
- Another must-have at home or in your bag is a foot roller. They are cheap, lightweight, and easy to use any time you can take your shoes off. They hit all the acupuncture points and are great to relieve the pressure on your feet that comes with standing for long periods.
- Breathing is part of exercise too, and a great stress reliever. So, throughout the day, when you can, breathe in slowly through your nose, lling up your chest right down to your stomach and, as slowly as possible, exhale through your mouth, emptying all the air. Make sure your shoulders are down and back.
4. ATTITUDE: By attitude, I mean the state of mind that you approach your day with and how you carry on after hours of hard work. You are the ultimate influencer in the beauty industry when you are face to face with your clients. Of course, your job is to sell them your brands, but you are also trying to motivate them to look and feel as good as they can be with your products. Tricky, rude, demanding, and negative clients are just part of the day, and it is your job to connect with them as well as to motivate them. So you ultimately have to feel good about yourself, be well nourished, rested, and remain cheerful and present for long periods of time.
Not easy, but try a few of these easy tips to get you through:
- Start your day with something that makes you feel good. Wake up to music you love and dance around as you get ready for work.
- Make your commute as relaxing as possible, with music, a good book, positive thoughts, and keep breathing. Count all the good things in your life each morning and leave all the problems behind.
- Every time you think of something negative put a smile on your face. It’s almost impossible to smile and worry at the same time. Seriously. Go on, try.
- Every time you start to think about the bad boyfriend / girlfriend / money problems / horrible manager / lack of time, et cetera, change the thought in your mind and think about something that really makes you happy. Smile when you think.
- Remember that every rude, tricky client you have to deal with probably has a problem, stress in their life, or something worrying them, just as we all do. Perhaps their hormones are unbalanced or they have had a fight with their loved one, or are just having a bad hair day. Try to feel empathy and approach them with your biggest smile. They don’t mean to take it out on you, they just can’t help it.
- Think of yourself as an actress: you have to give your best performance ever with every one of them. I know sometimes you don’t feel like it, but once you get into the mindset of the performance, it will take over.
- At the end of the day, find time for yourself if you can. Go to a class that stimulates your mind or body. Get a project. Try to have something you can look forward to, and be passionate about it.
- Never think there’s anything you can’t do. Do things that you love and that make you feel good.
- Go on, spend more time with good, positive friends, have some fun, and find things to laugh about.
Originally written for Counter Intelligence Issue 02
Photo: Imani Clovis via Unsplash