The Importance Of Harmonizing Cortisol For Optimal Health

Stress is important for normal functioning and like many things, the "poison is in the dose". Managing a happy balance of stress in our lives is key for optimal health and longevity.

Cortisol - The Stress Hormone

Often referred to as the stress hormone, cortisol plays a pivotal role in our body's stress response system. Optimal levels of cortisol can result in happiness and productivity by regulating our energy levels throughout the day and contributing to positive emotions.

However, when faced with a stressful situation, the brain triggers the release of cortisol (along with adrenaline and noradrenaline) which prepare the body for the "fight or flight" response. As such these chemicals increase our heart rate, boost our energy levels, and sharpen our focus, all to help us deal with imminent threats.

When stress is prolonged and cortisol levels remain high we see adverse effects on physical and mental health.

Some of the problems associated with high cortisol levels include:

  1. Increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  2. Impaired and weakened immune function making individuals more susceptible to illness.
  3. Mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, memory and decision-making problems.
  4. Sleep disturbances due to disruption of the natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia and poor sleep quality.

Dopamine - The "Feel Good" Neurotransmitter

Dopamine, on the other hand, is known as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. It plays many important roles, particularly in mood regulation, motivation, pleasure, and reward mechanisms. High cortisol levels can result in low dopamine levels which influence our overall health and wellbeing. So it is important to harmonise cortisol in a way that is balanced with the other hormones and neurotransmitters, and optimises how we feel.

Personalising stress

Understanding what brings stress into your unique body and what lowers stress is a fundamental concept to getting the most effective outcome.

Everyone is different. We have different genes, and we have different lifestyles. Stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and spending time in nature can help regulate cortisol levels. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and a supportive social network also contribute to maintaining cortisol equilibrium.

There are small nuisances with each of these strategies though. The what, the how, the when, the where, and the why all differ from individual to individual and understanding the best strategy for you can be a game changer for your health and longevity.

By adopting stress management techniques and embracing a healthy lifestyle, we can harmonize cortisol and optimize our health and quality of life.

Keen to know how to personalise your stress hormones?

Discover which hormones are the dominant influencers of stress in YOUR body and what to do to keep them in balance.

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