Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is a chemical produced in the body when our brain perceives us to be under any kind of stress.
This can be mental stress such as taking on too much work in a short space of time or a big interview coming up. Physical stress involves stressing your muscles and/or cardiovascular system to make them stronger & more enduring.
Note this. Not all stress is bad. We need stress to improve & grow.
Bursts of stress, such as weight training, will make your muscle grow. Same can be said for stressful situations, the more your experience them the less stressful they will feel in the future. Lile the old saying ‘familiarity breeds likeness’
So why do people say Stress is bad?
Chronic stress is the problem. When you have constantly elevated levels of Cortisol you are doing a whole lot of damage to your brain & body. Without even realising it.
Stress (Chronic) is the biggest killer in the modern world. It’s a hard thing to measure but most certainly exists & contributes to ill-health. See this study on how
More and more studies indicate that chronic stress plays a key part in enhancing the growth of cancers, depression & a host of auto-immune conditions such as MS, arthritis & inflammation of the skin such as eczema & psoriasis.
Excessive cortisol disrupts the bodies most basic functions: It’s a long list, see the below list seen on Dr William Wallace
- Lower Immune Defence
- Hostility & Mood Swings
- Decreased Metabolism
Through excessive use of screens, being inside for large parts of the day & a lack of sunlight (looking at you Ireland) we are not giving ourselves the best chance to live happy, healthy & content lives.
So, what can we do to reduce chronic stress & excessive cortisol?
- Get Outside in the mornings/evening – Morning & evening light is crucial to our mood, sleep pattern & regulating our cortisol levels.
- Walk in Nature – Often. People forget we are biologically animals. We need the basic to stay healthy as much as any animal. Woods, the beach, the seaside – 15 minutes a day is enough.
- Get rid of things that cause you chronic stress – this includes people. You only live once, do it with energy & the people you enjoy.
- Self-Care Routine – As simple as scheduling time for Yoga, a Float, Sauna, Reading a Book or Sea Swimming. When is comes to stress, prevention beats the cure every time.
- Exercise – Whatever you like doing do it. Run, lift, walk, climb. Moving the body is natural & your brain releases ‘feel good’ endorphins post workout
- Supplementation – Ashwagandha, Fish OIl & 5-HTP have all shown to be effective in reducing cortisol while increasing serotonin & dopamine, the happy drugs that we all need to survive!
Dr Andrew Huberman does a great job in podcast of breaking down stress & the tools/mechanisms to reduce chronic stress – check it out here
I hope you know more about Cortisol & Chronic Stress, its impact & how to avoid it becoming a problem in your life.
When its starting to feel overwhelming it’s already time to action before stress impacts your long-term health. It truly is a silent killer.
Know some that needs self-care? Check out our stress reducing therapies. The ever popular ‘Winter Detox’ or ‘The Works’ bundles might be the reset you’re looking for.