Xmas Countdown - Stress, Cortisol & You
Stress is an unavoidable part of life it seems and is something we aim to control to the best of our abilities. How do we control this aspect? Why is it so crucial? What effects does it have on us?
The classic stress signs; fatigue, irritable, moody, sleep problems, headaches etc.. These common symptoms are brought about through an imbalance of CORTISOL, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands to help the body cope with stress and survive.
The bad news is our stressors of life can reach such levels that trigger an increase in cortisol, causing an imbalance in our system and the symptoms that follow! One effect we don't always realise, that can sneak under the radar is muscle loss, weight and body fat gain (especially that stubborn belly fat!). So it's all doom and gloom with stress?!
Some good news, cortisol is controlled by our lifestyle, so the powers in our hands to change. What positive steps can we take to change today?
Eat Well: This is the foundation for good health and an issue I can't stress (excuse the pun) enough. Creating good eating habits of quality protein, healthy fats and vitamins and whole carbohydrates for proper meals will set you on the right path. Following trending fad diets, indulging on those processed foods and trans fats all have a negative effect on the hormone and our health.
Exercise, but in your limits: Having a solid exercise plan, that both challenges and stimulates you is a perfect remedy to control hormone levels. Balance it out with some resistance training, cardio and stretching for an all round regime. However, keep within your limits, push yourself by all means but don't over-exercise for the hope
of short term results. This can put yourself under physical stress, potentially cause injuries and throw your hormones back out of line.
Relax & sleep: Sleep is a great leveller of cortisol, getting your 8 hours in will do you wonders. Even allowing yourself that afternoon siesta adds up if you can from time to time. Relax, we're often too hard on ourselves and feel that we have to be 100mph all the time. Take a step back, have a little break without worry or guilt, you deserve it.
Little things matter: Those clichéd nerve reducers like chewing gum, deep breathes, laughing all work. They relax you and keep you in balance, try to take a few minutes to meditate each day. Sometimes laughter can be the best medicine..