One of the most popular words in the world, stress refers to an intense feeling of emotional or physical tension. It often results from being in or anticipating an unfavorable situation for an extended duration of time. It can leave you frustrated, angry, or nervous and can severely increase your reaction time.
Caused by a hormone called cortisol, stress or nervousness is helpful in short bursts because it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. However, its positive uses are not too many and this hormone can cause more harm to our health and well-being.
A higher rate of production of cortisol hormone can cause more anxiety and tension, thus hastening you to gain weight besides acting erratically. With regards to weight management, it may pose many difficulties for you to lose some pounds even when the situation that made you tense is long past over.
When we are under the pump, our body produces a stress hormone called cortisol. Whilst we do need cortisol in small doses to be able to function appropriately in emergencies, having it consistently running through our bodies can have some serious negative consequences.
This stress-producing hormone is important in several conditions too. Starting from primitive times, cortisol was important to keep human beings on their toes so they didn’t just freeze and get eaten, but rather had the endurance and energy to run for their lives.
Did you know that too much cortisol can make you ill?
The mal-effect of stress manifests itself in low energy levels, loss of appetite, headaches, cramps, pain in the stomach, irregular sleep patterns, and just about a feeling of everything being swamped. This is scarier than it reads out and this is the least that cortisol does to most of us to varying degrees.
The problem is, our bodies don’t know the difference between the dangers of a tiger chasing us, and modern everyday stressors such as crazy deadlines, personal crises, tests and exams, and racing to meetings on time. However, its long-term effects on our health are just as horrible.
All of these situations cause the same spikes in our tension and nervousness as that of running from a tiger. For some people, this cortisol keeps on running through our bloodstream all day around, wreaking untold havoc on them. If you are stressed, you can neither relax nor get the rest you need, which further spikes cortisol levels to create a vicious cycle.
Effects of high cortisol levels or stress in the human body:
1. High blood pressure
2. Increased heart rate
3. Digestive system disorders
4. Lower levels of energy
5. Weight gain
6. Overactive thyroid
7. Mental disorders
8. Reduced sex drive
9. Pain in head and stomach
10. Tense muscles
12. Anger and annoyance
13. Fear and apprehension
14. More vulnerable to infections
15. Trembling of hands and legs
17. Being jittery all the time
19. Serious behavioral issues
20. Hopelessness and despair
There are several easy methods you can follow to live a carefree and happy life. There are also various herbs that you can take to nourish your nervous system- depending on whether you want to strengthen and restore it, or to induce some calmness to it.
Try adaptogens such as ginseng or holy basil, or relaxing herbs such as chamomile and lemon balm. You can often brew these herbs into a relaxing tea. We highly recommend drinking such fragrant teas while taking a breather and relaxing during an otherwise hectic day. They would help you lower your anxiety levels by a small margin almost immediately.
You should also go for meditation or Yoga, especially if you are battling with depression for quite some time now. Ignoring this stage might make you overly fat or skinny, but would offer you no positive benefits. Mental ailments are less spoken of but they can cause a huge dent in your self-image.
PS: You should especially consult a mental therapist if you are suffering from mental disorders like depression, general anxiety disorder, PTSD, etc. You may also switch to an on-demand video conferencing session with a professional in complete privacy through a smartphone. Here’s a link to it.
Yes, stress can just as easily cause weight gain too. It disrupts the metabolic system and triggers an excess of cortisol in the human body. However, in most cases, such mental disorders only lead to weight loss and persistent weakness in several biological processes in the human body.
For those that are affected by an increase in their weight and flab due to stress, here are some simple ways that can help you reduce cortisol levels and live a stress-free life.
Prolonged exposure to highly stressful situations can cause your cortisol levels to rise, thus interfering with your capability to think and work clearly. You may increase your intake of calcium and reduce that of caffeine.
It can also be beneficial to get plenty of calcium, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Calcium stores can be depleted by cortisol, so it is a good idea to load up on calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens or bone broth during dinner.
It is also recommended that you avoid caffeinated beverages as much as you can as these can affect your sleep patterns and your overall nervous system function. The same rings true for consuming alcohol or eating junk foods or being an emotional eater too. All these habits can prove detrimental to your health in the longer run.
Going for herbal and green teas and trying Yoga can put you at ease with your life and reduce your anxiety levels. These water-based teas ease up your psyche and metabolic systems, thus helping you regain your inner strength.
Tip: Drinking premium green tea with unbroken leaves is a better choice as compared to coffee.
Consulting a mental therapist or psychotherapist is the best way to get the issue of mental disorders and abnormal weight gain or loss over some time. As an expert, she would be the best judge of your predicament, and given her proficiency, she can help you stop looking for ghosts under your bed.
If you are struggling with weight loss and know that you also lead a stressful life, then finding ways to minimize stress and maximizing relaxation opportunities would be the key to being successful in your journey. Doing yoga at home would help just as much, provided you do it under an expert’s guidance.
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