Stress and Cortisol Levels
Stress is a natural reaction that occurs when the body floods with hormones that elevate the heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels to help prepare for the "fight-or-flight" response. During the fight-or-flight response, a chemical (ACTH) is released to trigger the adrenal glands, which then releases cortisol and adrenaline. Released cortisol results in a burst of new energy and strength that causes you to fight or flight. Cortisol also suppresses the growth process, digestive system, reproductive system, and the response of the immune system, which is why too much cortisol release can become dangerous.
Tips to living a stress free/corticol-balanced lifestyle:
1. Make time for enjoyable activities
2. Identify the stressor: monitor your state of mind throughout the day, and write down when you're feeling stressed along with your thoughts and mood. From here develop a "way out," or a plan to prevent this from occurring often.
3. Build strong relationships: research shows that negative, hostile relations with your spouse, friends or family can cause immediate changes in stress-hormones. However, relationships can also act as stress-buffers.
4. Walk away when you're angry: re-group and count to 10, then reconsider how you are going to respond. Walking boosts Endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, so when they say "walk away" it really is to calm you down! Try to commit to 30 minutes of daily exercise (walking, running, weight-bearing, yoga, Zumba, etc.)!
5. Rest your mind: stress keeps more than 40% of adults lying awake at night. To ensure 7-8 hours of sleep per day cut back on caffeine, remove distractions such as television and cell phones from your bedroom and go to bed around the same time each night. Yoga exercises also help reduce stress and boost immune functioning.
6. Get help: if you are too overwhelmed consult with a psychologist to help you manage your stress levels effectively.