Stress Can Be A Killer!
Chronic stress puts your health at risk, wreaking havoc on your mind and body. Stress engages cortisol levels. Normally, it’s present in the body at higher levels in the morning and at its lowest at night.
Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it’s often called
“the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. It is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
Heightened memory functions
A burst of increased immunity
Lower sensitivity to pain
Helps maintain homeostasis in the body
“While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.” (Stress.about.com)
The Mayo Clinic staff describes that your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and aggressors. The Clinic describes the process so eloquently I wanted you to read it verbatim:
“When you encounter a perceived threat — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.”
Information is power. It’s difficult to make changes when you feel pressure at your job, school or in your family life. Understanding the neurological effects that stress has on your body, may be the impetus you need to demand changes to positively impact your long-term health. So what can you do?
-Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
-Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation
– Attempt to keep your sleep schedule consistent, even on the weekends
-Organize your work and personal environments to help you remain focused
-Creating laughter in your life.
-Seek professional counseling when needed
Take the health concern connection seriously. Changes can be scary and difficult; but make the effort. Your long term health is worth every effort made!