HOW THE MOON AFFECTS OUR HORMONES
WINTER IS COMING
As the days start to get shorter and nights start to get longer and colder, it is normal for people's energy to wane, and feel an uncontrollable desire to sleep-in, and hibernate under warm covers. As tonight's solstice marks the official start of winter, I realize that the moon is full and i'm exhausted and yep, it's only 4 o'clock!
A DELICATE BALANCE:
In deepening my studies of hormones and their effects on women's health this past season, more specifically how hormones impact our skin, monthly cycle, sense of smell, aging brains, sleep cycles, appetite, fertility and more, one thing has become clear: balance is vital and so is light! Cue Sean Paul...
*If you don't or no longer menstruate, you may wish to skip to the end, where I offer 5-Self Care Practices For Winter.
JUST GIMME THE LIGHT
MOONLIGHT AND HORMONES:
Women's monthly cycle is variously called 'monthly moon time'. The parallels between the moon and menses begin with the duration or 28 days that mark the duration of a moon's phases in a cycle and a woman's menstrual cycle. While many women have shorter or longer cycles at any given time in their lives for many different reasons, the 'regular' ~28 day, menstrual cycle has other significant connections to the moon, more specifically, moonlight.
Dr. Carrie Jones sheds light on this connection, clearly. Here are her thoughts on the two principle ways in which moonlight and hormones are connected:
"First, the brain hormone GnRh (Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone) is released by the hypothalamus in your brain in a pulsatile manner throughout your cycle, to signal your pituitary gland, also in your brain, to release FSH (follicle (ovum/ egg) stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). (The latter are hormones connected to ovulation and the release of the ovum (egg/ follicle) when fertilization does not occur, leading to menstruation.)
The release of GnRH is tied to the SCN, or suprachiasmatic nucleus- which is the master pacemaker of your circadian rhythm- governing the body's sleep and wakefulness.
The SCN is also in your brain and controlled directly by light and dark exposure in your eyes!
The GnRH pulses increase as you get close to ovulation, which if you follow the moon cycles, is when the moon is getting fuller and brighter! (If you ovulate on the full moon).
MORE MOONLIGHT gets the SCN increasing GnRH increasing ovulation at this time. Then the moon gets darker and darker as you get closer to your period, until it's a new moon. Now you let go and bleed on the new moon.
Second, your melatonin, release from your pineal gland in your brain, is dependent on the amount of light or dark the SCN receives.
Darkness stimulates melatonin.
Melatonin also helps control rhythms including your reproductive rhythm. So if your cycle is off or out of balance, make sure to dim lights, get off your phone, wear blue light blocking glasses, at night. This can help your melatonin production which in turn can help set up your menstrual cycle regularly.
Now, this doesn't apply to everyone. It's also called a RED MOON, if/ when you bleed during a FULL moon. Historically, those women were healers or priestesses taking care of everyone..."
Grateful for Instagram and this incredibly knowledgable doctor for sharing her research and insights.
BALANCE OF PUSH AND PULL
What eye opening insight (!) into the moon and moonlight and how it affects women's cycles! Aside from shutting our laptops and phones off a few hours before bed, what are some other things we can do to find balance? More balance? Less balance? A balanced balance?!
Below are my Top 5 Healing Practices to practice with 'Kavana' or aligned intention, this winter solstice. They are an essential part of my mental and spiritual self-care during this season, a nice compliment to physical self-care.
TOP 5 HEALING SELF-CARE PRACTICES FOR WINTER
Winter can be a hard month. As a Canadian, I've found coping mechanisms, erm, self-care practices that help get me through. Aside from the obvious bright light-lamp to fight S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder), here are my top-5, healing self-care practices:
1. ENJOY THE SILENCE & PRAY FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT: Finding comfort in the dark, sheltering night and welcoming the silence, can help us find joy with our own thoughts, imagination and dreams.
In the absence of stimulation in the form of daylight and noise, we can take time to reflect, meditate and simply do less than we might during daylight hours. Some of my favourite things to do to enjoy the silence, include: taking long baths by candlelight with my Kavana Sunday Salt Soak bath salts, snuggling with a good book, making some maca hot chocolate or doing puzzles. Directing thoughts and taking actions towards those who do not have such luxuries, is also important.
2. GIVE THANKS AND LET GO: As the sun changes course and begins to move in a new direction at the solstice, we are reminded to let go of what no longer serves us or what we can no longer be in service to, and change course or take a new direction too. Like a great exfoliation of the soul, instead of clinging to what was, we can give thanks and gently let go, lovingly, let it be.
Whether it's negative thoughts, beliefs or relationships that hold us back, peacefully and respectfully letting go with gratitude for what was and for the lessons of what could be, can help bring clarity and make space for new ideas and relationships to arise. It's definitely not easy, but maybe worth a try.
3. ENGAGE WITH NATURE: A great way to foster connection or feel connected to the natural world around us is simply, by going outside. Whether for a very short walk around the block, with or without a dog, a ski day or skating or 'toboggan- bowling' at the park with the kids afternoon, getting some movement in and fresh air, can do wonders for the body and spirit. The resistance to feeling bracing cold air on one's skin, is easily remedied with Kavana's Phyto-5 Face Cream and Phyto-5 Face Nectars!
4. BREATHE & STRETCH: Cultivating a breathing practice with Kavana, or intention, can help us tune-in to our bodies. Something as simple as setting aside 7 minutes a day to inhale and exhale out more slowly, can help our bodies relax and feel less tense. When it's cold and shoulders are hunched up close to ears for warmth, and feet are frozen and legs are tensed, trying not to slip and fall, a little intentional moment of breathing can have a huge effect on balancing the entire body.
Stretching gently, for as little as 10 minutes a day, can also help keep cold and stiff muscles limber. Rolling feet over a tennis ball (one at a time!) or an old rolling pin or dowel, or lying down on a tennis ball and rolling it between shoulders, can do wonders to release fascia and gently self- massage the body. Aromatherapy with non-toxic, essential oil based fragrances like Kavana's Perfume Poems can also be a supportive way to uplift your spirit.
5. LEND A HAND: In an ongoing pandemic, and especially during the cold months when less light shines, it can be difficult to imagine engaging with strangers, getting outside and even taking time to breathe and take care of ourselves in a basic way! It can seem hard to share light and lend a hand, when we feel depleted or burnt out, starved for these ourselves. Sometimes just acknowledging that we can or need to do less, is a way of intentionally engaging honestly with our need to rest. By replenishing our energy, we can just be more present for ourselves and that's important!
Alternatively, if we have the energy and will to share our energy, volunteering to help others, can reignite our light and re-affirm our connection to and engagement with community. Watching the neighbour's kids outside, helping a senior with groceries, cooking a meal for someone who can't, organizing a clothing drive or fundraiser, helping someone get home safely...whether you engage and lend a hand, or simply take the first step to imagine ways to engage when you feel able, you're on the right path!
What Kavana/ intention(s) do you have for the winter? If you just want to share funny winter or moon memes, that's great too! I'd love to hear from you, please email me at email@example.com
Wishing you a reflective and peaceful solstice.