Ever come home from work and no matter what you do to “chill out”, you don’t feel chill? In fact, maybe you feel even more stressed by the time you go to bed no matter how much Netflix-watching, face mask-ing, or bubble-bathing you’ve done. There’s actually a hormonal reason for what makes for restful “me time” and what doesn’t.
Testosterone matters to women! It isn’t just a man thing, although we women have much lower levels. We use it to get into go-mode and get stuff done. It keeps us energized when engaging in masculine activities like work.
You see, when we women are in the workplace — or working on projects or participating in the masculine role of bringing home the bacon — we’re immersed in a high-testosterone interpersonal environment, even if we’re surrounded by women. After producing and using higher testosterone during the day, we need “me time” to feel happy, balanced, and rested. Basically, we need our own version of “man cave time” to rebuild testosterone.
Women make testosterone out of progesterone, so self-nurturing activities rebuild the progesterone supply such that more testosterone can be made as needed. Stress depletes progesterone, so if we don’t get this relaxation time, we start to feel super zapped, fast!
Biologically Impossible Rest
It sounds simple, right? Just prop your feet up and relax after work. You even have a biological excuse! So then why is it just not that easy to shift from “work mode” to “restful me time”? Like I said before, there’s actually a biological reason for this.
If our testosterone is too high, it blocks our ability to produce progesterone. It is essentially biologically impossible for a woman to shift from making testosterone to making progesterone without a surge in oxytocin. We women are just not wired to skip from work to pleasure without injecting some major happy hormone.
The Oxytocin Key
Oxytocin is produced when we engage socially with others in a pleasant way. This could be a hug from a partner, a chat with a girlfriend, or snuggling a puppy.
Often known as the “happy hormone”, this hormone is particularly important for women to keep their other hormones in balance. Without enough oxytocin, we get upset (or hangry) more easily.
Women have different oxytocin needs throughout their cycle, so you may feel like you need a long cuddle with your parter or a few short bursts of affection might be enough. Keep in mind that too much oxytocin can raise estrogen levels too high, so get what you need and get out.
Oxytocin lowers testosterone levels in women and allows us to more easily produce progesterone. When we’re pumping out the progesterone we need, we can actually enjoy restful me time. If we skip the oxytocin step on the way to our chill time, we’re almost guaranteed to be left unfulfilled by any restful activities.
Intentionally engaging in activities in the proper order to balance our hormones becomes particularly important if our work is stressful. When we stress, our body converts progesterone into cortisol. As long as we stay stressed out, we deplete our progesterone stores and any new progesterone we make gets dumped into the stress-related processes.
Restful Me Time
Learning how to leverage oxytocin in the manner that best suits your needs to shift into happy hour is critical to overall wellbeing for us as women. It’s time to stop beating yourself up for needing some down time or feeling guilty for not feeling rested enough after taking time for yourself and make the best of it by understanding our biology.