The rapid heartbeat, the chest pain, the upset stomach, do they sound familiar? Did you experience them lately while you had a problem at work, home or school? All are symptoms of stress, or as it is sometimes called, ‘The disease of the 21st century’. This condition is mainly triggered by cortisol, a hormone essential to the wellbeing of our metabolism. Below we have put together some basic information to help you better understand how cortisol works and how it impacts our overall health.
You are Probably asking, what is Cortisol?
What you should know is that cortisol is a hormone produced within the adrenal gland and has various effects in our body, which are explained in this article by Dr. James L. Wilson. Whenever our brain perceives to be in a dangerous situation, our hypothalamus will send signals to the adrenal gland to release hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol. This is where cortisol tries the best to make our body respond to stress, it regulates the blood sugar levels, the blood pressure, the central nervous system activation and much more. These are very important as a higher amount of glucose means more energy in our body, which is what we need to handle those stressful moments.
I can hear you, another question, – then why is it Bad for us?
Well this hormone’s levels vary during the cycle of 24 hours, sometimes reaching a peak and sometimes a bottom, but it is crucial that they always come round their normal state. Considering nowadays, a time in which we are constantly facing stressful situations, this might not happen. Such a thing leads to unbalanced levels of cortisol as the adrenal gland can experience chronic fatigue syndrome. After this several effects appear such as:
- Weight gain cortisol is a hormone produced within the adrenal gland and has various effects in our body
- Weaker immune system
- Cardiovascular disease
- Fertility problems
- Thyroid problems
- Lower bone density
These side effects vary depending on your specific problem, as you can have an excessive level of cortisol or have a deficiency and it is understandable that each has different impacts. The good news is you can improve* the cortisol levels by applying few simple steps.
Managing Stress through Strategies
These are so important and can have a huge impact on our health. For those who might need more information there are plenty of books out there on the topic, but we are mentioning here some popular techniques suggested in Today’s Dietitian, which are not difficult to incorporate.
- Getting Enough Sleep
This one is heard over and over again, but there are so many studies proving the importance of sleep that you should seriously think twice before sacrificing it.
- Mindfulness Meditation
This technique only requires few minutes of your time and you will see the benefits not long after you start, different experiments have showed. You will feel more relaxed and more peaceful in general.
- Physical Activity
You should not be surprised that benefits of exercising helps to balance hormones as well, doesn’t it help with almost everything? Find something you enjoy doing and move your body to get those benefits every doctor or dietitian talks about.
- Acupuncture (alternative medicine originally Chinese)
It is especially helpful for the physical symptoms that follow cortisol imbalance like muscle pain, headaches, etc.
- Listening to music
This has been discussed widely but in the end studies have showed it is true and listening to instrumental music in particular can help you with your cortisol levels, this way reducing* stress. How amazing is this? If you still feel sceptical, you can have a look here for a full experiment accompanied with all the data.
Talking to a specialist
We could give you general guidelines but in the end they are hard to follow as everyone has a specific issue and needs those advices adapted to his metabolism. Therefore if you feel like you are experiencing serious problems we highly suggest you look into it more carefully. You could start by doing some research one more detailed information like this publication. Then if you believe you find something appropriate to your situation you can consult with a specialist to double check the information before you implement any drastic decision.
Cortisol’s functions are of a high significance for our general health, but our surrounding environment can cause instable levels of cortisol this way bringing serious consequences into our life. Therefore we should be careful and try to incorporate some small actions into our daily routine which can have a huge impact on improving* this issue. Set a challenge for yourself and follow one of the upper techniques, you can thank us later.