Our hormones and our moods are amazing things. It’s time we gave them the respect they’re due, and help them help us.
We’ve been raised to either try to ignore our hormone cycles – to associate them with an uncontrollable aspect that we want to distance ourselves from – or we’ve managed to breeze through adulthood so far without giving them very much thought.
But actually, hormones are amazing. They are vital little chemical messengers that control every function in the body. And moods are so much more than about being a bit snappy. They are key to understanding our bodies and our brains. “Our brains and our bodies work in sync in various different ways,” Araceli Camargo, cognitive neuroscientist and lead scientist for Moody Month says. “What we’re looking at is how these two systems, the brain and the body, communicate and create transactions from the perspective of overall health.”
As we can’t see our hormones racing around our endocrine system, the only way we can keep track of them (without testing in a lab) is to keep track of our moods and physical feelings, especially any changes. “They are clues about how your system is reacting or in communication with the external world,” Camargo says.
When it comes to our health we have to take all the clues and hints we can from our bodies in order to optimise our lives. Which starts from a place of knowledge. Lots of us don’t really know when or how long our next period will come and last for, especially if we’ve been on a hormonal contraceptive; our next period begins purely when the pills in the packet ends. Only relatively recently have we even been able to track our periods with basic period trackers apps. But by paying attention to our menstrual cycle – the whole of it, not just when we bleed – and logging patterns of ups and downs, cycles, and changes – we can unlock huge mental, physical and social benefits.
Imagine, for example, knowing the precise best day of the month when you might be feeling supercharged with oestrogen and feelings of joy; or if, for you, the oestrogen cocktail actually leads to feelings that tip into anxiety. “What these patterns allow us to understand is there a symbiosis, or a form of communication, with all our systems in our body,” Camargo says.
“Moods and hormones have patterns and therefore they are trackable as data,” Moody Month CEO Amy Thomson says. “By reflecting these patterns back to women, we are using data technology, not as a sales tool but as a tool for empowerment. When you understand your patterns, you can optimise your month, from how to schedule our week to what type of exercise at what times of the month. Using your moods to maximise motivation; they are our biggest asset when we listen to them.”
We can even learn where we need more support: either on a small scale from nutritional supplements to support our endocrine system, or better sleep routines to boost our quality slumber, to knowing when things aren’t quite right and we need external help. “If for example you have big changes in your mood, such as you’re not socialising as you normally do, then that’s something to take note of,” Camargo says. “And if you’re concerned, you can take it to your GP.” By logging, tracking and paying attention to the patterns our body delivers, we can try to work out whether what we’re feeling is within our own parameters of normal, or something that needs more examination. “My hope is that by becoming more personally aware of their health by using Moody Month, women can feel empowered and take a more proactive role in their healthcare," Dr Megan Leonard, a GP who works with Moody Month, says.
Because becoming more aware of our bodies is to understand that our hormones should be respected, but that they’re not solely responsible for our moods. As we understand more, we can start to get greater clarity on how we are feeling at different times and where this is coming from – is it our situation, our mindset, or our hormones? This knowledge is empowering. We realise we’re not totally governed by our hormones. Instead, by understanding what they are, we can manage and override our hormonal responses.
So why call ourselves Moody? It’s not often used as a compliment, but we believe it should be. We all have moods, that are ever changing through our days, months, years, lives. Being moody is natural, it’s brilliant, it’s our body’s way of talking to us and the external world. We need to reclaim our connection to our hormones, and to our moods.
“By listening, watching and giving our bodies the respect they deserve, we can plan our lives more efficiently,” Amy says, “from the micro-level (but still important stuff) to getting on with taking over the world.”