People who suffer long-term stress are more prone to obesity. Surprise, surprise. The adrenals secrete hormones – such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine – that regulate the stress response. BUT what you might be wondering is why some people are devastated by stress, while other are relatively unaffected. Or why some people thrive in high-pressure, driven work environments while other self-destruct. The reason different people respond so differently to the same stressors is that our response to stress is largely defined by perception. That perception of stress determines how we will respond and that perceived stress is what’s linked to health problems. Because of this stress response from the adrenals, the adrenals are what determine our tolerance to stress and they are also the system of our body most affected by stress.
When we think of stress we think of impossibly full schedules, driving in traffic, financial burdens, arguments with a spouse or kids, losing a job, etc. But we often don’t consider all the other stressors that burden the adrenal glands. These include blood sugar swings, gut dysfunction, food intolerances, chronic infections, environmental toxins, autoimmune problems, inflammation, etc. All of these conditions cause the adrenals to produce more stress hormones.
Other symptoms of adrenal stress include:
When stress becomes chronic and prolonged, the hypothalamus is activated and triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day - high in the mornings when you wake up (this is what helps you get out of bed and start your day), and gradually taper off throughout the day (so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep).
Research shows that chronic stress can not only increase absolute cortisol levels, but more importantly it disrupts your natural cortisol rhythm. And it’s this disrupted cortisol rhythm that wreaks oh so much havoc on your body.
Among other effects, it:
Higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight. People tend to report overeating and 'comfort eating' foods high in fat, sugar and calories in times of stress, and the stress hormone cortisol plays an important role in metabolism and determining where fat is stored (primarily around the belly – or visceral fat). Visceral fat is very metabolically active and increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and early death. Yikes!
But this would be all so very bad news if there wasn't anything you could do about it, but oh there is...
How to reduce the impact of stress?
One way is to reduce the amount of stress you experience. This method of stress reduction is preferred, but this might not always be possible.
Some how tos:
The second step in reducing the stress experienced is to address any physiological problems that are taxing your adrenals (the medical stuff).
We may not be able to avoid stress, BUT we can influence how we perceive the stress, thus changing how it affects us.
4 key factors that determine how we perceive and, thus, respond to stress: (Think NUTS)
1) The Novelty of the event
2) The Unpredictable nature of the event
3) A perceived Threat to our body or ego
4) A Sense of loss of control
Some how tos:
If you’re not doing some form of regular stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet, exercise and supplements. Stress management is absolutely crucial to optimal health and longevity.
Hack Your Happiness in 24 Hours
We all need some MOOD BOOSTERS to get us through stressful situations and stressful seasons! Here's 24-hours of researched happiness hacks to help lower your stress…
6:30-6:35a: Stretch. Take 5 mins to practice yoga poses. Research shows yoga keeps you more resilient to stressful conditions. Yoga, meditation or simply breathing can be a great way to relieve tension.
7:00a: Add a green juice to your AM routine. Researchers found that a higher intake of produce resulted in a greater sense of happiness.
9:00a: Bring a plant to work. Research found that the presence of potted plants reduce fatigue, stress, and improve health.
12:00p: Add a shot glass of sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) to your LUNCH. Research suggests probiotic rich foods are a promising treatment for anxiety & depression.
12:30p: Activity break. Go for a 15 min walk outside. Research shows outdoor exercise lifts mood better than indoor exercise.
3:00p: Try green tea as an afternoon pick-me-up instead of coffee. Researchers found that levels of stress were 20% lower in people who drank green tea daily.
5:00p: Add Pandora's "Classical Goes Pop" station to your commute. Research suggests you’ll keep your road rage under wraps when you listen to calming music.
6:30p: Eat Sunflower Lentil Loaf for dinner. Research suggests folate in lentils boosts the happiness hormone, serotonin.
After dinner: Treat yourself to dark chocolate. Researchers found eating dark chocolate daily for 2 weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in people who rated themselves as highly stressed.
10:30p: Get a good night’s sleep. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, research shows that poor sleep increases stress. In fact, improving the quality and quantity of your sleep is the best way to manage your stress.
.Click >>>here<<< for a yoga stress management plan.
Other healthy ways to manage your stress include: meditation, self-care (massage, pedicure), journaling, reading a book, deep breathing, time with friends, getting the support you need, exercise, laughing, slowing down, relaxing, counseling, yoga, and intimacy.