Ever feel like your responsibilities at work are bogging you down rather than making you more efficient? It could be that your hormonal levels are mismatched with your duties. A wide range of hormones affects your brain and subsequently your behavior. For example, norepinephrine influences risk-taking, testosterone influences aggression, and prolactin influences caretaking. The levels of these hormones in your body will affect how you relate to others in the workplace and how well matched you are to the work that you do.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these, and how you can work with your natural talents, rather than against them.
Risk-taking: Humans naturally evolved to release hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine in response to the fight-or-flight reflex. Fight-or-flight is an evolutionary reaction to situations of stress and threat, triggering heightened adrenaline production, increasing heart and breath rates, and stimulating the production of cortisol. In any stressful situation, we will rapidly assess the level of risk involved and determine the likelihood of success in a potential confrontation.
In typical daily life, assuming you’re not facing off with a prehistoric beast, fight-or-flight is triggered under stress and when risk-taking is asked of us. Understanding your natural tendencies in such situations can help you manage even the most difficult moments of communication or disagreement both personally and professionally. Managing stress will help keep your body and mind healthy, and allow you to shine in your own unique way.
Aggression: Testosterone is an endocrine hormone, the levels of which vary greatly in both men and women. Yet testosterone naturally influences our inclination towards aggression. If you find that you’re quick to a temper, you may have higher levels of testosterone in your system. In this case, it’s possible to eat foods that affect endocrine production, help balance testosterone, and keep you a bit less feisty than normal.
At the same time, working with your body’s natural tendency is important: If you know you’re inclined towards aggression, find ways to channel this towards productivity rather than external conflict at work.
Caretaking: The hormone prolactin is one that spikes during pregnancy and after birth, helping women to lactate and care for their newborn child. Yet men—and women who aren’t lactating or having children—also have prolactin in their systems, and to varying degrees. Prolactin is a critical factor in producing feelings of inclination for caretaking, making it ideal for people interested in professions like teaching, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, and many others.
If you feel you have a natural inclination for supporting the wellbeing of others, you likely have healthy amounts of prolactin pumping through your body at any given moment. Embrace the caretaking hormone and your thoughtful ways, and you’ll find yourself happier than ever.
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