What do you think about stress? Does it apply to you? Is it merely a coverall phrase for any mood / energy / personality disorder?
The stress response is vital to our staying alive. Without it, we can’t be arsed to make a decision about whether to fight or flee a drastic situation. So stress is good. But too much stress, and specifically too much continuous stress over things we can’t escape from, is bad.
This continual over production of cortisol every time we feel stressed has been shown to be detrimental to us. Here are a few ways how…
- destroying muscle tissue (which lowers resting metabolism)
- thereby increasing ability to gain weight, specifically abdominal weight (and not easily lose it)
- disrupting sleep
- disrupting moods and memory
- increasing your risk of heart disease
- increasing your risk of diabetes
- increasing your risk of cancer
- reduced immune function (ill more frequently)
- increased signs of early ageing
- reduced libido
- poor gut / digestive function
- increased risk of osteoporosis
- increased desire to eat and eat junk carbohydrates
Sounds like a pretty poor mix doesn’t it?
It’s not the end though, no need to think you’re done for.
I’ll share more ways to improve your stress response and lower the risks associated with over production of cortisol over the next few days.
Here are three to start with:
- Make sure you are hydrated. Boring, but true. Being even mildly dehydrated is stressful for the body and it therefore produces excess cortisol. Maintain your hydration with water, fruit / herb teas and fresh salads, vegetables and fruit.
- Get enough sleep. Research has shown that people who miss an hours sleep a night getting about 6.5 hours suffer with a 50% increased cortisol exposure compared with people who get between 7.5/8 hours each night. It’s also worth noting that not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase appetite for cheap, junk carbs.
- Exercise can help. But it can also hinder. If you are over stressed with work, over stressed with finances, families and in-laws then you want to be avoiding high stress activities and sports like bungee jumping or marathon running. Less is definitely more in this case. However if you are not exercising then starting to exercise will help with the redistribution of excess cortisol even if the cause of the stress hasn’t disappeared.
I’ll share some more tips tomorrow. Until then, step away from your desk (exercise) grab a drink (hydration) and set an alarm on your phone to tell you when to go to bed (sleep).