Stress hormones are behind your panic jolts or periods of anxiety, the sympathetic nervous system creates an automatic “fight or flight” response in our body whenever we feel fear of any kind or are in a stressful situation, and it has many unpleasant symptoms. The adrenal glands present on our kidneys produce endocrine hormones that include adrenaline and cortisol. When your brain receives a message of a stressful situation, adrenaline increases in the blood stream, in a stressful situation it can cause sweating and an increase in heart rate. Adrenaline hormone prepares you for an emergency situation and activates the CNS.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone of the adrenal glands, cortisol is not immediately released in stress, Cortisol is basically not the bad guy, it prepares body for survival mode by maintaining blood pressure and regulating heart beat, it tends to drive blood to the vital organs. But, when there is chronic stress present, too much of cortisol can be a problem, it can suppress the immune system, increase blood sugar, and can even lead to obesity. Regulating stress is crucial, the body’s natural survival mechanism makes use of these two stress hormones, but your lifestyle could be messing up with the intricate balance of these hormones in the body.
If you are always stressed out, high levels of cortisol can create many problems, insomnia and digestive disorders are among them. Your cortisol can spike in any stressful situation, such as fretting at a new bill, or a complex work assignment, the evolutionary hormone mechanism that used to help people flee a predator is creating a cortisol overdrive in your blood. Just the way chronic inflammation is bad for your body, chronic stress is debilitating and has many harmful outcomes. It is important to learn relaxation techniques and control the stress hormones, this is the problem why some people feel anxious even in an apparently non-stressful situation, their stress hormones are in an overdrive.
So, what can you do to control or balance these two major hormones, first you need to figure out what is creating a lot of stress in your life, make a journal and write down your worries everyday. Breathing exercises, such as meditation bring about immediate relaxation and evoke the parasympathetic nervous system that produces reverse effects of the stress hormones. A study showed that 10-15 minutes of meditation everyday can lower the levels of cortisol up to 20%, meditation can help lower cortisol due to chronic stress. Listening to classical or any form of soothing music has been shown to lower the levels of stress hormones. So, if you experience with sleep problems, calming music can help you doze off.
Sleep has a major effect on stress hormones, if you can sleep for 7-8 hours everyday, you can lower cortisol up to 50%, lower cortisol also suppresses your cravings for unhealthy food, so it’s a win win!