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Stress is virtually unavoidable in today’s modern world, and the more we learn about how stress can impact our hormone levels the more worrisome this can become. A recent study on stress and hormones has shown that stressful situations can have a significant impact on the endocrine system, and even contribute to conditions such as Graves’ disease.
While everyone has stress in their life at some points, learning to identify the triggers as well as symptoms you might be experiencing related to elevated stress is critical for long term health. The body has several major hormones, all of which are impacted by day to day stressors. In most cases stress suppresses the production of hormones causing symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, muscle loss, memory problems, and even immune suppression. Some of the specific ways that hormones wreak havoc on our bodies are listed below. You may find yourself in one or more of these categories.
|Increased Cortisol Levels||Infections, high blood pressure, weight gain, increased belly fat Increased cravings, eventual adrenal suppression & fatigue|
|Catecholamines||Increased cardiac output, blood sugar spikes|
|Decrease in Insulin||Stress-Induced Hyperglycemia|
|Thyroid Hormone||Decreased production of major thyroid hormones, activation of autoimmune thyroid disorders|
|Growth Hormone||Suppressed w/long term stress, causing fatigue, weight gain, Memory loss & premature aging|
|Testosteorne||Suppression causing infertility, fatigue, muscle loss, low libido|
|Estrogen & Progestoerone||Suppressed production causing infertility, early menopause|
There are, of course, other hormones which are affected by stress and can have a dramatic impact on your day to day health. Avoiding and managing stress in order to maintain hormonal balance is key to long term health and happiness. Try adding one of these 5 practices to your daily routine to begin to manage stress in your daily life:
1. Keep music close – Music can actually change the brainwaves to a more relaxing state. This phenomenon has been studied, and perhaps this is why so many people resonate with music on such a deeper level. Music therapy has been used for decades to treat anxiety, depression, and attention disorders in both adults and children. Make a daily practice of listening to at least 30 minutes of soothing sounds to literally relax your mind.
2. Take up dancing – It may sound trite, but dancing is a way to both relax the mind and stimulate the body. It lubricates the joints, releases endorphins, and loosens the muscles. The best thing about dancing is that you don’t have to be a pro to move your body to music. It may feel unnatural and even contrite to some, but the next time you are feeling a little up tight, put a little tune on and dance like no one is looking… because likely no one is!
3. Exercise at least 3 times a week (but aim for 5) – Whether it’s a casual stroll in the woods or an intense kickboxing class, getting your body moving is a great way to let off some tension. Engaging in intense physical activity, will give you an endorphin release for a nice euphoric feeling that helps you to release the tension of the day. Exercising also warms and loosens the muscles, lowers cortisol levels and strengthens the immune response and heart.
4. Meditate – Meditation comes in many forms and can be done virtually anywhere. Some think that meditation means sitting cross legged on the floor chanting (and sometimes it is), but meditation is really just the process of focusing the mind on a particular thing or activity. This can be as simple as a deep breath or two or a short walk in a quiet place. It can also come in the form of repetitive hobby like knitting, painting, or gardening. Meditation lowers the blood pressure, increases the immune system, and improves peace of mind. Sometimes just sitting still in silence clearing the mind is just what you need to reset your day. For a little treat visit this link: for a 6 minute relaxation that can be accessed anytime:
5. Enjoy a little intimacy – Sex is an often overlooked part of normal & balanced well-being. A great stress reliever, it incorporates a little exercise and hopefully ends with total relaxation. Physiologically, during orgasm males and females experience intense and momentary muscular contractions, which is then followed by relaxation. In women, the hormone oxytocin is often released after sex, which gives the women the urge for physical closeness (also known as the cuddle hormone). There is also a release of endorphins with orgasm, giving that euphoric feeling afterwards.
While stress can affect hormones if gone unchecked, ultimately we have the ability to manage our stress keeping our hormones (and our bodies) healthy and happy.
Please see Dr. Clairbornes website at http://mbswellness.org/