How Your Body Reacts to Stress
Do you find yourself restless after a long day? Tired from your mind running constantly? Feeling under pressure? It’s a common issue for many and you are not alone. There are so many stressors that arise in life from trying to please everyone and be perfect to being unhappy and unsatisfied. Is there a way to change this? While there is no magical cure to being stress-free, there are ways to manage it and change your body's reaction to it.
What is the Adrenal Gland?
Your adrenal glands (adrenals) are two triangle organs that sit above your kidneys and are part of the endocrine system. The adrenal cortex is the outer region, while the adrenal medulla is located inside and produces stress hormones along with adrenaline. The glands produce hormones that in turn help to regulate blood pressure, metabolism, the immune system, and stress. Overstimulation of the adrenal glands (or “adrenals”) by long-term stress could lead to an inconsistent level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the bloodstream.
Causes of Adrenal Dysregulation
There are a variety of factors that can cause adrenal dysregulation from what we eat to how we feel inside. Our diet affects our bodies tremendously and we have to be mindful of what we consume as it can make us feel weighed down. Sleep goes hand in hand with our diet. Lack thereof can lead to a variety of health issues and can induce stress. Other factors of adrenal dysregulation include, but not limited to:
- Toxins and pollutants
- Stress due to financial hardship
- Negative thinking and emotional trauma
- Dependence on caffeine or sweeteners and Chronic conditions.
Just how can you be for sure if you’re experiencing adrenal dysregulation? Here’s common symptoms to take note of:
- Always feeling tired
- Sweet or salty cravings
- Hair loss
- Decreased sex drive
- Moodiness or depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite.
As for symptoms you may experience, it is best to consult with a health care provider for more information.
Adrenals Response to Stress
When your brain recognizes a threat, whether it’s emotional, mental, physical, or a combination, the adrenal reacts. It releases cortisol and adrenaline to react to the threat, rushing blood to your heart muscles and brain. This is the fight or flight response we are all familiar with. The adrenals also release hormones to slow processes like immune response and digestion that are not necessary for survival.
Best Ways to Deal with Stress
Stressful circumstances can seem unbearable to deal with in the moment. Still, there are coping mechanisms that you can practice to help calm your mind, center yourself and move forward. This includes:
- Exercise (cardio/yoga)
- Spending time with loved ones
Practicing mindfulness is one of the best ways to deal with stress. This is generally done through meditation. In practicing this, you become intensely aware of your surroundings and how you feel. Meditation reduces stress, boosts energy, positively affects your overall health.
Journaling is something many have drifted from, but it’s a great stress reliever. Research shows that keeping a journal can boost your mood and increase productivity. Take time to write not only how you’re feeling, but what you’re grateful for. Sometimes getting our thoughts on paper is the remedy to lightening the load.
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe