SMART HORMONES: Taming The Stress Monster
Have you ever had the feeling someone was watching you? I don’t mean the dude-across-the-room-is-about-to-come-over-and-say-“how you doin’?” kind of feeling.
I mean the childhood anxiety – the a-monster-is-in-my-closet-waiting-for-the-right-moment-to-jump-out-and-eat-me kind of feeling.
You know what I’m talking about.
And guess what?
You’re being stalked right now.
But the monster of adulthood that’s constantly around the corner, waiting for just the right time to wreck your hormones, give you heart disease, and make you chubby is not the boogie man of your childhood.
It’s a beast named Cortisol, and he’s one bad mamma jamma.
What Is Cortisol And Why Does It Matter?
Cortisol is a hormone that is essentially the chemical version of stress on your body.
When it’s tamed, Cortisol wakes you up at dawn, helps you run from tigers, and makes you feel incredible on a sun shiny day.
Not a very scary monster, right?
When it’s running wild in your life, Cortisol can sap other hormone systems (like testosterone and estrogen) while causing anxiety, exhaustion, cravings, weight gain, and even heart disease.
Unfortunately for many, the Cortisol in their life is less like a well-trained border collie and more like a fire-breathing dragon!
In a world of tight schedules, traffic jams, angry Facebook memes, and caffeine consumption, our nutrition and lifestyle habits have allowed Cortisol to be the beast that wreaks havoc on our hearts, minds, and bodies – And it’s time to get it under control.
How Do We Take Cortisol To Obedience School?
You don’t need a degree in endocrinology nor do you need hours in a day to make it happen. 4 simple things in your nutrition and lifestyle as outlined in step 2 of the hormone pyramid will make a profound difference!
Caffeine – Stop Fueling the Beast
Are you fueling the stress monster?
Caffeine does a number of things in the body, but one of its primary effects is to boost Cortisol.
Remember how I said that Cortisol helps to wake you up in the morning? Do you also reach for a cup of coffee? You’re taking advantage of the little boost!
There are two instances when caffeine can be a big problem.
First, if you are consuming too much caffeine (300mg or so) daily, you may be exposing your body to an INTERNAL stress that you could otherwise avoid. That’s approximately 3 cups of coffee per day.
However this amount can be hiding in other things aside from your morning coffee like pre-workout supplements, energy drinks, tea, headache medicine, and even chocolate!
And secondly, caffeine consumption after 2pm can disrupt deep sleeping patternsbecause it can take up to 12 hours for the effects of caffeine to be completely removed from your system.
Is it time to stop feeding the Cortisol beast by setting limits on your caffeine consumption?
Foundational Supplementation – The Building Blocks for Maximum Recovery
Cortisol was once our single most important survival mechanism. Once upon a time, fight or flight kept us from falling prey to tigers, famine, or other threats that would take us down.
It’s not all bad. It’s healthy and natural.
The crux is that we need RECOVERY from CORTISOL fight or flight episodes.
And in our world where we are constantly revving our Cortisol beast, one of the things we can do to support maximal recovery is to ensure the body has the building blocks it needs to facilitate recovery.
An everyday fish oil, multi vitamin, and magnesium is a good place to start. Vitamin D (especially in the winter), a good probiotic (especially through the holidays), and Protein (especially if you’re running low on grams today) are all solid foundational adds that will help you recovery from stress as well!
(You get what you pay for. If you do invest in supplements, go with Thorne. Over 30 years in business, GMP stamped, pharmaceutical grade, and no sexy marketing.)
There are several things to take into account when picking up supplements. Learn more here!
Is it time to commit to a solid supplement regimen to help you tame the stress monster?
Sleep – Adults Need Bedtimes Too
Speaking of recovery, guess when you’re supposed to get the most time away from the stress monster?
Yes, when you’re catching some ZZZ’s you are also recovering from the effects of Cortisol.
However, it is estimated that 40% of the American population do not get enough high quality sleep most nights.
To remedy this for yourself
- Set a consistent bedtime and wake time
- Make your room as dark as possible
- Cool your bedroom between 69 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit
- Refrain from sugar consumption within 2 hours of your bed time
Implementing these changes for a solid week will find you with better energy, a shrinking midsection, and less anxiety through the day.s
Since quality sleep is such a struggle for so many, I've even put together a quick and dirty 101 for you! Check it out!
Is it time to commit to better sleep to give yourself a break from the stress monster?
Decompression – A Stress-Free Sanctuary
Last but not least you need daily time away from the stress monster.
Whether it's an intentional 15min of meditation, a 30min yoga session, a quick moment listening to your favorite song, or even a casual stroll around the block, any time away from the stress monster is time well-spent.
Although any moments you can salvage for decompression will do wonders to mitigate the negative impact of stress on your body, the best times to carve out for yourself are directly following an exercise session (to maximize recovery) or an hour or so before bed time (to unwind fully and boost healthy sleeping patterns).
Whenever you are able to work that time in, minimize the impact of any persistently stressful thoughts by focusing intentionally on deep, full breaths in and out (This video can help you understand this practice better and of its effects).
Is it time to commit to some decompression in your day?
Tame the Beast
The wonderful system that is supposed to help you wake up, be energized, and save you from life-threatening situations has been hijacked in the lives of many causing anxiety, overly rotund bellies, cravings, and exhaustion.
No matter how terrorized you have been, it’s never too late to make a change. Mind your caffeine, be diligent about your sleep, take your supplements, and set aside some time to decompress.
Don’t let the Cortisol-monster run rampant in your life.
It’s time to tame the beast.
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This information is meant to be actionable information to promote health and well-being and not to be used to diagnose or treat medical symptoms or conditions.
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