Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cortisol and Stress

Before getting into epigenetic changes associated with stress, I thought I would delve a little deeper into the bodies response to stress. It is recognized that stress causes the human body to prepare for “Fight or Flight”, actions which our ancestors would have considered when threatened. When stressed, the human body secretes cortisol to enhance the bodies chance of surviving an attack - small increases in cortisol give us a quick burst of energy, helps us remember things, reduces our sensitivity to pain - all good things if a lion is about to make you the main course.

For a short time, these are all valuable responses in a crisis. The problem is that people today tend to be stressed all the time. At that point cortisol levels are elevated for longer than is good, causing a number of problems:

•Impaired cognitive performance
•Suppressed thyroid function (feeling tired all the time is one impact)
•Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
•Decreased bone density
•Decrease in muscle tissue
•Higher blood pressure
•Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing
•Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with heart attacks, strokes, increased “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and reduced “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels

Cortisol has been termed the “Stress hormone” - perhaps a better name would be the stress killer.

OK - raise your hands - how many of you are stressed most of the time.

I think I see one person who has their hands in their laps - ooops, he’s asleep. Lean over there and wake him up.

Cortisol is a healthy hormonal response to stress - provided it is a short term response. So, how do you get your stress levels back in synch? Here is a short list of actions which will help:

•Exercise
•Yoga
•Listening to Music
•Breathing Exercises
•Meditation
•Sex

To this list I want to add: Doing things that generate satisfaction and happiness. As in fixing little things around the house before they bother you. Taking a moment to help someone who doesn’t quite get how to do something. Thinking about the things that went right today, and putting together a plan to take care of those things that didn’t.

If you want to read more on stress and cortisol - check out this article

Tomorrow we will dig a little deeper into the impact of stress on our bodies.

13 comments:

  1. Hello! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask. Does operating a well-established website like yours require a massive amount work? I am completely new to blogging but I do write in my diary every day. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!
    Heart Healthy Diet

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just added your web page to my bookmarks. I enjoy reading your posts. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great items from you, man. I've be aware your stuff prior to and you're just extremely magnificent. I actually like what you have bought here, really like what you are stating and the way in which you assert it. You make it entertaining and you continue to take care of to keep it sensible. I cant wait to learn far more from you. This is really a great website.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello, I simply wanted to take time to make a comment and say I have really enjoyed reading your site.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Do you people have a facebook fan page? I searched for one on facebook or twitter but could not discover one, I'd really like to become a fan!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Superb tips! I have been hunting for everything such as this for quite a while now. Excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for your kind words.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  9. I will have to ask Kelly to set one up - so far I figure I am doing well getting the blog started!

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you very much - I am very pleased you find my writing interesting!

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you - it amazes me how many things I have to post about...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Best advice is to write a number of postings before starting a blog, and put together a list of topics you want to write about - if you can come up with enough for perhaps 30 posts you are on the right track.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for your kind words.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete