We all encounter stress, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Some stress is actually good for us, such as exercise but some can make us very ill. Long term stress can negatively effect your autoimmune system, which can lead to chronic diseases (Belgrade University 2008). When the body is stressed it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which increases your blood pressure and heart rate and releases the hormone cortisol from the adrenal gland. This ʻflight or fightʼ response is an evolutionary reaction to danger and meant to be a short term response. In todayʼs times however, your body canʼt distinguish between the stress from not eating regularly or lack of money or relationship issues and being attacked by a saber tooth tiger. Therefore you can produce too much cortisol for too long. Over time can wear the adrenal gland down and you then cannot produce adequate levels of the stress hormone. This in turn can cause blood sugar issues, exhaustion, memory loss, bone degeneration, fat gain, etc (Blum 2007). If you feel over alert but tired all the time this can be a symptom but also if your mind is racing at night, especially when you want to sleep. Cortisol levels should be there lowest at night as melatonin should be released to help quality sleep.
So what can you do to help? • Blood, urine or saliva hormone tests for cortisol levels will give you an accurate picture of
whats going on in your body. • Get your diet evaluated – the food you eat can influence your stress and mood. • Exercise in short bursts regularly. This may ease aches and pains as well as lowering the
brains sensitivity to stress (McClellan and Hamilton 2010). Yoga and Pilates are also
extremely beneficial forms of exercise to combat stress. • Relaxation such as diaphragmatic breathing, mediation, shiatsu massage, aromatherapy,
reflexology, etc all help to lower stress hormones.