Thursday, December 19, 2013

Taking Charge of your Families Daily Hormone Flux

When you come to think about it, humans are either in a state of hormonal equilibrium, or are in pursuit/desirous of it. If you don't feel ok, the basic ingrained desire is to want to feel ok.  How we get there with the best interest of our families is the subject of this article.          

 An inordinate amount of distractions, jobs, tasks and futile pursuits which can fill our day. Through the  course of this day. If we were to get a "read-out"  of our daily hormonal flux we would be astounded by the up and down roller-coaster/stock market graphing of it. Given this hormonal flux, what is one big hormonal trap for kids and adults, and what are some concrete actions that are practical, engaging, and easy to integrate into one's life, and/or family life?

To start with, spending an inordinate, unbalanced amount of time on technological gadgets manifests anxiety, stress, uneasiness and studies are showing it is physically bad for your health. Do I need to check my email 12x's a day? Do I need to unwind each evening with surfing the Internet for 1-4 hrs? Is television viewing week in and week out, month after month, year after year the only way we can unwind at night? 

How we deal with our daily hormonal flux shows kids how to deal with life. I believe that this underlines the need for parent-awareness on executive function skills development.  Kids today tend to grow up on a steady media-technology diet and find it difficult to relate to others, have weak empathic-awareness, and low threshhold of emotional and impulse control. This makes for poor conversation and poor relationship-building & sustaining skills.  Sounds like the opposite of contentment, and not the hormonal-regulation path we should be on. 

Just like the sugar from candy and dessert triggers choreographed hormonal reactions within you, a cell phones pings, tweets, email honks, and notifies you about stuff sending low-level gratification. Each ping and notification is a little surprise of gratification, however small and short lived. It is like one is present in the physical reality, but is able to briefly escape away with 'news' from abroad.  Do these notifications fight and win taking precedence over whatever action is going on in real life? Are their hormonal effects that are manifested due to the constant notification-access, and constant exposure to electromagnetic charges?  I believe that good solid science is showing this to be evident more and more.  

Doing a family 'happy hour' can be an end of week tradition that is appealing to everyone. I say this, because self-regulation, an executive function skill that has a whole set of industries catering to it, does not always have to be one doing something on their own to calm down, vent, and relax, but can be a group effort that week by week builds stronger family bonds. During happy hour, Mom and Dad can relax a bit more, and the family dynamic gravitates around them. Kids should be enocuraged to put on shows, and agreeable relaxing music can be played or listened to. Media devices like smartphones and tabletshould be turned off. Make it the happy hour law! Turning it off also turns off a mindset in your mind, allowing you to focus and be more present. Is this not a skill we want to teach our kids?
Happy hour need not be about alcohol, Ipads and football with kids running around in the background, but about engaging conversation, soothing music, and eye to eye family interaction. This can do a great deal to regulate hormones. Kids who are given healthy parameters that allow them to vent and express themselves feel a strong sense of family and end up having fewer behavioral issues down the line. What's more, you will end up raising kids who can initiate, sustain, and end a conversation well. 

This takes a modicum of emotional intelligence and executive function skills.

Here are some other activities you can consider using to regulate hormones: 

Swimming is low-impact, and can be used to trigger human growth hormone in people naturally. Endorphins are also released and help regulate mood, and contentment. Interval training is how ancient man use to operate, rather than exercising for endurance over long stretches of time. Also, endurance training wears you out, it wears out your joints, and it regulates your metabolism after you pass the five minute exercise mark so that your not even hardly burning fat.

Interval training, or speed burst training requires 30 seconds of all out speed burst, followed by a 90 second rest break. Repeat a total of eight times. Do once to two times a day, but not on consecutive days, thus you work out 3-4 days of the week. It is okay if you only train 1x/day instead of two... Don't worry, I won't tell on you, and the Interval Training Gods will not penalize. After each session your body is hormonally regulated for the next 4-5 hours. 

Long-term Interval swimmers sleep soundly at night and tend to have strong executive function usage, and hemispheric connectivity. Likewise, sweating brought about by the exercise secretes heavy toxins which tax the body, including the hormonal balance.

The following activity for hormonal regulation and executive function skill strengthening is for parents and couples. Dancing requires functional balance, is a self-regulation activity, and entails following sequences, using your short and long term working memory and very importantly, foresight and pace.

Couples, or parents who dance often will be able to work relational issues much better than those who keep their dancing shoes in the closet. The closeness and proximity disallows grudge holding which would stand in the way of genuine harmonious dancing. Children who see their parents have a good healthy time reap greatly. Families can effect the hormones of the family simply by parental dancing. Dad's need to take charge here. 

I think Michael Buble's music works well, as does Jack Johnson's new family friendly album, Johnny Cash, Fats Dominoes, and Bebel Gilberto's 'Tanto Tempo' are easy to listen to, but get what works. Think outside the box.  Dance with your spouse at home in the morning with the kids, or during happy hour. 

In the end, with greater family emphasis on hormone regulation, or the emotional well-being of the family, those up an down rollercoaster hormone fluxes will taper off according to consistent parental pro-activeness, and kids will have a myriad of tools to take care of themselves independently.

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