What’s the use o’ howlin’
Tho’ the grind is long and hard,
The path to happiness never was
A well kept boolyvard—
Jes’ forget about yer troubles
That get ye riled and vexed,
Why—the spice o’ life is guessin’
Jes’ what’s comin’ next.
— an old poem.
We all understand “stress” in terms of the dictionary: urgency; strain; pressure; force; importance; weight. Few of us consider what stress really is…
Stress is cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone. Endocrinologists call it the “stress hormone.” Aptly so, since our endocrine system secretes the hormone in response to situations the dictionary defines as stress.
Cortisol readies us for sudden physical activity. It provides us a blast of energy and sharpens our awareness. It is our natural fight-or-flight response. It is wonderful for sudden stress.
Prolonged stress, however, is another story.
As a hormone, cortisol is involved in many of our bodily functions, including regulation of our blood sugar level, maintenance of our immune system, and promotion of our anti-inflammatory response.
Prolonged stress causes our cortisol level to remain elevated.
Bad things start to happen when our cortisol level remains elevated: our blood sugar becomes unstable, our blood pressure skyrockets, our immune system depresses. Even our digestive system goes out of whack. We may also suffer headaches or psychological problems, like absentmindedness or indecisiveness.
Stress may be inevitable and even exciting. But, limit its prolongation.
Use meditation, yoga, deep-breathing, or other relaxation techniques between periods of stress. As the old poem says, forget about your troubles. Keep your cortisol level in check.
You can do it.
This article written by Campbell Venn