Have you ever felt like you were so stressed out that you just wanted to crawl into a hole and hide?
And then, when you finally had a chance to relax, your mind wouldn't stop racing about the stress factors, and you couldn't get to sleep?
If so, congratulations! You've experienced the “joys” of cortisol.
Cortisol is often called the "stress hormone" because it's secreted in large amounts during stressful situations.
And while cortisol has some essential functions in our bodies, too much of it can be dangerous.
In this post, we'll take a look at the effects of cortisol overload and what you can do to avoid it.
The Stress Response
When we experience stress, the body responds by releasing 'stress hormones' like adrenaline and cortisol.
These hormones prepare our body to deal with stressful situations by increasing heart rate and blood pressure.
The increased heart rate and blood pressure allow the body to pump more blood into and mobilize the extremities, so you can run away.
Why does it do that? Well, because evolutionarily, stress would usually come in the form of something in your environment trying to kill you.
And so, when that happened, the body would need to run or hide, and this is why the classical stress response is called “fight or flight.”
So essentially, this hardwired stress response is not just something that’s giving you anxiety.
It is, in fact, the body’s most ancient defense mechanism…
The Megapolis Era
So from what you learned thus far, we can say that the stress response is something that developed when our ancestors were still running around butt-naked and picking berries.
Naturally, in that raw environment back then, there would be many things trying to chase those people down and eat them.
However, in the era of huge cities, the risk of death by predation is slim to none.
Nevertheless, the stress response is still activated, even more frequently than it did back in the days.
In fact, certain modern-day factors lead to CHRONIC stress, which in turn impacts our day-to-day lives in a significant way.
Recovery, Immunity & Growth
We’ve all experienced it - Our boss at work says, ‘we need to talk.’ Or maybe, the cashier at the store had a bad day and decided to take it out on you.
All of these human factors cause us to feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed all. the. time.
And while one may think that this stress is just something mental, the truth is, it is far from just that.
This is because cortisol, by nature, shuts down the recovery, immunity, and growth of the organism so that the body can solely focus on surviving.
And while normally stress would last until you escape the danger, that is not the case nowadays - Stress has become a constant.
So really, when stress is constant, your immune & growth functions are hindered for the most part.
Not only that, but the heart, the brain, and your entire system are out of harmony.
And really, when your organs are working incoherently, and your immune system and recovery are down-regulated, you are practically on the highway to disease.
How To Deal With It
Okay, so constant stress and anxiety isn’t really something that’s ‘just mental’ - It’s a predisposition for serious health issues.
With that in mind comes the logical question - how can one deal with stress, really?
Well, there are quite a few ways, and you’ll often see a variety of calm-inducing supplements and products being marketed.
But really, we want to tell you about the most important practice…
Respond, Rather Than React
One important thing to acknowledge in the context of stress management is that we tend to react to stress factors automatically… And emotionally.
For instance, if a close one comes screaming at your face, more often than not, you’ll react to that, mirroring their behavior and escalating the situation.
And that’s normal - Our brains are wired to act from memorized patterns.
However, in each and every day of yours, try to recognize and stay conscious of stress factors.
Whenever you recognize you’re starting to react, take the wheel and choose to respond instead.
It’s all about self-observation - Take some time to think everything through. Take the time to CHOOSE how you want that thing to impact you.
Because after all, stressing means robbing yourself of vital energy and health.
And really, you wouldn’t want to do that for the cashier at the local store, nor your boss or co-worker.
Stay conscious, stay aware, control your reactions and stay healthy!