Do you know what cortisol is and what it does to your body when you feel stressed?
Do you know that something is going on in your body when you get upset and lash out at someone in the office, when you fret about not meeting the monthly sales target, when you are about to start on a new job in a new company, when you have a heated argument with your spouse about the children, when you grieve over the loss of a loved one, or when you are losing sleep over an unpleasant incident that happened earlier in the day?
When you feel stressed, fearful, anxious, angry, discouraged, depressed, distressed, frustrated, you are stirring up cortisol, a stress hormone in your body associated with the "fight" or "flight" response to negative emotions. This stress hormone is essential in maintaining a sense of equilibrium when encountering extreme stress, such as fright, trauma or severe physical exertion. However, when it's maintained at excess quantities, it has various negative impacts on the body including the following:
1) It becomes a hormonal signal to the fat cells in the abdomen to store as much fat as possible, leading to weight gain over the long run. This explains why cortisol has become a diet buzzword today. You might notice that some people tend to gorge on food compulsively when they are under stress as their appetite increases. Also, some people find it so hard to see a breakthrough in their dieting results no matter how hard they try.
2) It weakens your immune system so you'll be more prone to infections than others. That's why people who are suffering from prolonged depression tend to also have other health issues such as acne flare-ups, and persistent coughs and colds.
3) It slows down your thinking and response. Interestingly, according to some research, our stress hormone level increases with age. Also, a young person's cortisol levels rapidly go up under stress but decline to normal within a few hours, whereas, in older people, the levels rapidly rise during stress and do not return to normal for days. When circulating at a high level, these stress hormones can damage brain cells. Thus, it's also known as the "death hormone" and associated with brain shrinkage in old age senility.
Personally I find it both very interesting and enlightening to read and learn about cortisol and what it does to our body. Let's avoid these deadly hormones. Learn to deal with the demands and stresses in life and cultivate an anti-aging lifestyle through regular workouts or physical activities, time-outs for relaxation and personal reflection, healthy balanced diets, and maintaining a positive attitude to life on a daily basis.
Here's one "Relaxing Sign" technique which I find it rather useful. It helps increase your lymphatic flow and let go of undesirable tension -- Take in a deep breath. Hold it briefly and sigh it out deeply, letting out a sound of deep relief as the air rushes out of your lungs. Let the new air come in naturally and sigh it out. Take a moment to repeat this a couple more times, you will feel a sense of relief as you let out each sigh.