From wanting to fit perfectly in THAT dress to just wanting to get done and over with THOSE deadlines, we’re so overwhelmed with the stress we’re living in that we often fail to realize it.
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone. It’s important because it helps your body to meet excessive demands of energy by breaking down proteins and also counteracts inflammation. Too much of it is bad, because it breaks down your body too in that scenario. It’s an essential you can’t live without, but too much of is bad for you. So how do you know if you’re cortisol levels are off the charts and that you might be taking way too much stress?
You’re not sleeping well
Normally cortisol levels drop to a low when you’re sleeping allowing you to relax and recharge your body for the next day. However, significantly high levels of cortisol cause you to become restless and make you toss and turn in bed all night as you try to catch some sleep. The result: you still feel tired and droopy the next day.
Over time, excessive high levels take a toll on your adrenal glands and predispose you to chronic fatigue. No matter how much sleep you get or how well you think you’ve been sleeping, you still feel as lethargic as a turtle. Address your sleeping woes and make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of night sleep. If you aren’t feeling comfortable with that old mattress of yours, just change it. It’s your mind and body that needs relaxing not your wallet but make sure to go through some memory foam mattress reviews before ordering one so that you get the idea of what users recommend already.
You’re gaining weight
Naturally, if you’re eating too much, you will gain weight. When you’re stressed, you’re probably nibbling over more edibles than you would normally without actually realizing it. As a result, you start gaining weight. The reality is that people under stress generally don’t have enough time to fix a healthy meal for themselves and instead rely on take outs sand ready-to-eat junk. Not to mention, high cortisol levels trigger an increase in insulin production causing a significant decrease in blood sugar levels and all of a sudden, you’re hit by hunger pangs causing you to eat even more thus adding more inches to your belly.
You’re catching more and more infections
Your cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue have a profound impact on your immune system as well. Both high and low levels of the stress hormone have opposite effects on the immune system neither of which is beneficial. High cortisol levels tend to suppress your immune system preventing an inflammatory reaction post infection, and reduced levels of cortisol prevent the immune system from reacting in time. The result; your ability to combat infections is compromised and catching common infections like the flu and a cold become even more common.
You’re having more frequent backaches and headaches
Prolactin is a common byproduct of adrenal depletion caused by consistently high levels of cortisol. And what these increased levels of prolactin do is that they increase your body’s sensitivity to pain especially in the back and the head. Like always, people under stress are often too busy to take notice of these pains either. While the backaches can be avoided, cortisol also has a direct impact on nerve cells in the brain making them hypersensitive to even the slightest signals inducing even more severe headaches.
You’re sex drive dies
There’s Viagra and there’s anti-Viagra – that’s cortisol. Particularly during periods of intense physical activity, increased amounts of cortisol tend to inhibit the secretion of steroid hormones not only disrupting the menstrual cycle but also significantly reducing libido. In fact, everyday stress that you experience has similar effects because you’re probably too overwhelmed to focus on the pleasures of intimacy. You’re sex drive pretty much goes on a long drive down a dark road leading to nowhere.
You’re all stressed up and gloomy
Cortisol causes anxiety, jitters, butterflies in your stomach, panic and in worse cases even paranoia. Your body gradually stops producing serotonin – your body’s natural mood enhancing chemical, and you eventually start to feel gloomy. And that’s when it normally hits you that you’re all stressed up!
What next? Analyze your routine and begin de-stressing yourself before it’s too late.