Oh, be quiet!

Yes, I said, “Be quiet.”

Ok, I didn’t mean YOU. Not the you that you call “I.” But your mind you. That constant chatter in your head, the ongoing commentary and evaluation of everyone and everything around you.

You know, that nattering!

How often do you let yourself be quiet? Other than that chunk of time some of you meditate, when are you quiet?

In times of major transitions or crisis, the first things to go for many is meditation, healthy eating and exercise. The first thing to arrive is the incessant mind chatter. Or it gets louder and more incessant.

Recently, a wise man I know said, “Men have their quiet room. Women don’t.” He meant a quiet place in their minds where they can just sit and stare. I’d been reading up a lot lately on how men and women cope so differently under stress so I didn’t bother to argue. Here is a small window on how men and women’s hormones impact stress so differently:

Women’s Hormones – the bad news: Most women know that we naturally produce oxytocin, the feel good hormone, when we’re in love, holding a baby or with our girlfriends. Did you know that it’s also part of the stress response and activated along with adrenaline to counter its affect? That’s good news because when we’re overwhelmed or in a crisis, the oxytocin triggers us to surround ourselves with people who care about us.

Here’s the challenge. Oxytocin falls when we feel unsupported, ignored, abandoned, lack trust, feel we don’t matter, even when expectations of support aren’t met. We also have a constant list going in their head. The reason we can get so overwhelmed at times is that the treachery of the lists is that they CAN’T ever be completed.

The Good News:

Although our brains are not wired to enter a quiet room naturally, we can create one. An easy way is to reduce our stress by building more oxytocin. For the introverted women soothing or nurturing activities like nature walks and baths, movie or talking to one good friend are helpful. For the more extroverted women, team activities, partner dancing, talking on the phone, as well as, the quieter activities. For women, there is a need for the quiet room to be shared (at least for a while) so she can rebuild her oxytocin levels.

Men’s Hormones – the bad news: Testosterone has a natural tendency to decrease as the day goes on particularly with the sunset. Well, that’s not so bad. When men are stressed their testosterone decreases. That’s wouldn’t be a big deal either if he could rebuild it naturally by resting. However, if he doesn’t have the opportunity to relax and rest so the stores rebuild he become grumpy, irritable, moody, and even passive. And of course, has less libido.

The really bad news for women who live with a man when his testosterone is low is that her need for oxytocin (talking, cuddling) actually causes it to lower more!

The Good News: When men come home and plop in front of their computer or TV, it is actually a biological imperative. Guys, if you don’t have a lifestyle where you have a space for a quiet room, then carve out a cave somehow in your life. Do your restful activity before you get home or explain the need to those you live with. “I need an hour of alone time when I get home”…or whatever it might be. But give it to yourself.

Women who have a relationship with a man, a son, or a male colleague, give him opportunities to have quiet time in his way. Go get your oxytocin hit from your girlfriends, masseuse, nail salon, local park. When his testosterone has been rebuilt you’ll both benefit.

Quiet time for all: There is much joy to be found in the world, in our lives and our relationships. Without understanding our hormones and making choices accordingly, it can be hard to quiet the inner voices.

Without that quiet mind, we won’t as easily access that still, small quiet voice inside. The one that says, “It’s going to be alright, dear.”

Note: For my readers who are living with anyone of the opposite sex, I recommend you read John Gray’s Why Mars and Venus Collide, Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress.