Stress & what it does to our body

The word ‘STRESS’ is thrown around a lot.

‘Oh I’m so stressed’, ‘This is so stressful’ 

But what actually is stress and what does it do to our body?

What is stress?

Stress is our perception to a given event or situation.

Whether it be worry or anxious feelings towards financial troubles, a speech that we have to present, a job interview, a social event or a troubling situation that may threaten our physical wellbeing, these types of things can all change our body chemistry and alter the production of certain neurotransmitters and hormones.

I’m sure most of us have had some of these feelings before and we all perceive and deal with situations in a different way. But generally, our body chemistry reacts to them in a similar way.

So in this blog I will briefly talk about Coritsol, what is does in the body under normal circumstances and what happens when we are under constant stress.

Now, Cortisol shouldn’t be considered a bad or negative hormone. Cortisol is an incredible hormone that fluctuates naturally throughout the day depending on what we are doing and helps are body with lots of different processes. It is when we are flooded with ‘stress’, cortisol is released unnecessarily and our adrenal glands get flooded and normal levels can’t be maintained.

Under normal, ‘non stressful’ situations, cortisol is responsible for glucose metabolism, insulin release, blood pressure, memory formation and controls our inflammatory response and lots more. Cortisol is naturally higher in the morning when we first wake up and gradually declines throughout the day to allow us to go to sleep.

It’s when cortisol levels are high over a long period of time, your body can change and not function optimally. If you are in constant ‘stress’ mode, and you are in a battle between fight or flight, higher amounts of cortisol is released from your adrenal glands and it is not used or metabolised properly. In this state of stress, our sympathetic nervous system is constantly 'turned on', ready to react to the stressful situation, this isn't a good situation to be in because we want our sympathetic nervous system to be calm and bring our body back to homeostasis. 

High levels of cortisol can lead to: -lowered immune function -slow digestion/metabolism -carbohydrate/sugar craving -sleeping troubles -hormone imbalances  -mood swings/change in emotional state -decreased memory formation and concentration  -fatigue/low energy

These are some of the bodily functions that can begin to be effected by high and constant cortisol levels. 

Now, its not all bad news, there are definitely some things that can help bring our cortisol levels down and reduce stress. 

Some Chinese and traditional herbs have properties that support the adrenal glands to help them deal with the excess cortisol levels.  Meditation and mindfulness are great techniques to help change our perception on stressful situations.  And lastly, Acupuncture is amazing at giving you a sense of relaxation and calmness. Acupuncture helps awaken the body's natural ability to heal and promote homeostasis, and some studies show that it can help reduce cortisol levels in the blood.

I hope you all enjoyed this introduction to Cortisol and its effects on our body. 

Please email if you have any questions or would like more information about how stress effects you and how we can help! 

Maya, x 

*Please note: if you have serious concerns regarding your health, please see a doctor*