How to Relax
Stress is two things. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Stresses can be positive or negative. It could be something like a work deadline, having to give a public speech. It could also be something like entering a marriage or a new relationship or changing jobs.
Then we also have the way that we respond to that challenge — that’s also called stress. And our response to that challenge has a physiological component which basically affects our body. When we’re in the face of a challenge or a threat, our body mobilizes all of our resources so that we can protect ourselves. So for example, if you’re in the woods and you’re walking and 20 yards away from you there’s a bear, you want your body to mobilize all of its resources so that you have enough energy to either run away from that bear, or fight that bear.
These are the Hormones your body will release when you’re under stress:
Commonly known as the fight or flight hormone, it is produced by the adrenal glands after receiving a message from the brain that a stressful situation has presented itself.
Adrenaline, along with norepinephrine (more on that below), is largely responsible for the immediate reactions we feel when stressed. Imagine you’re trying to change lanes in your car, says Amit Sood, M.D., director of research at the Complementary and Integrative Medicine and chair of Mayo Mind Body Initiative at Mayo Clinic. Suddenly, from your blind spot, comes a car racing at 100 miles per hour. You return to your original lane and your heart is pounding. Your muscles are tense, you’re breathing faster, you may start sweating. That’s adrenaline.
Along with the increase in heart rate, adrenaline also gives you a surge of energy — which you might need to run away from a dangerous situation — and also focuses your attention.
A hormone similar to adrenaline, released from the adrenal glands and also from the brain.
The primary role of norepinephrine, like adrenaline, is arousal,. When you are stressed, you become more aware, awake, focused, he says. You are just generally more responsive.” It also helps to shift blood flow away from areas where it might not be so crucial, like the skin, and toward more essential areas at the time, like the muscles, so you can flee the stressful scene.
Although norepinephrine might seem redundant given adrenaline (which is also sometimes called epinephrine), imagines we have both hormones as a type of backup system. “Say your adrenal glands are not working well,” he says. “I still want something to save me from acute catastrophe.”
Depending on the long-term impact of whatever’s stressing you out — and how you personally handle stress — it could take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of days to return to your normal resting state.
A steroid hormone, commonly known as the stress hormone, produced by the adrenal glands.
It takes a little more time — minutes, rather than seconds — for you to feel the effects of cortisol in the face of stress, , because the release of this hormone takes a multi-step process involving two additional minor hormones.
First, the part of the brain called the amygdala has to recognize a threat. It then sends a message to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH then tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Whew!
In survival mode, the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure, while regulating some body functions that aren’t crucial in the moment, like reproductive drive, immunity, digestion and growth.
But when you stew on a problem, the body continuously releases cortisol, and chronic elevated levels can lead to serious issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and more.
What happens to you your body when you relax
True relaxation marks the body’s ability to regulate the stress hormones properly. Hormone regulation is affected by many other factors than just mental or emotional stress. The body comes well equipped to deal with danger (or stress if you will). In an instance of danger, the central nervous system (CNS) kicks into gear, releasing a hormone cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol. In an actual danger situation, such as the proverbial pulling a car off of a small child or preventing someone from walking in front of a car, the hormones serve their necessary purpose of heightening our responses, and are used up by doing so.
Lower level stress causes a similar release or adrenaline and cortisol, but often without the accompanying ability to release the stress. Think, for instance, when you actually got to slap the rude commenter in the grocery store or take a baseball bat to the headlight of the car that cut you off in traffic (not that you would want to do those things or anything!). This lower level stress reaction is a completely unconscious one, and one that can cause problems if we don’t have an outlet to deal with it. The presence of stress hormones in the body initiates the “fight or flight” response, causing muscles to tense in preparation of exertion, breathing and heart rate to increase, and non essential functions to cease.
hat whole “non essential functions to cease” part is the most worrisome in non-life threatening situations. In a real life or death situation, we would be glad that we didn’t need to take a potty break, stop to grab a bite or go into labor (should we be pregnant at the time). The interruption in digestion, excretion, immune function and hormones is not beneficial when this stress is low level and prolonged, as it can cause serious issues with other hormones and bodily functions.
In modern life, many people are also either not exercising enough or over exercising, and both increase stress. Physical exertion (heavy lifting and really fast movement) help use up stress hormones in the body, but extreme exertion tells the body that the stress is still present. Our poor adrenals try to keep up with the constant fluctuations in stress hormones, but eventually, even these super glands get tired. Prolonged stress can lead to adrenal fatigue (a cause of infertility) and many stress related conditions.
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