Thursday, 3 October 2013

Don't Worry Be Happy - It's Good For You

Everybody suffers stress and worry at some point in their lives, some people may even get stressed and worry about things daily due to work and home life. All this stress can play havoc with your health and your weight. But why?

Lets start with cortisol. Now cortsiol is a steroid hormone that is vital to your body as it maintains blood pressure, regulates the immune system and helps breakdown proteins, glucose and fats. Our cotisol levels change throughout the day, in the morning it gets us out of bed and gets us going, if you have low cortisol levels in the morning this can lead to lethargy and depression. Cortisol becomes elevated during exercise which can help the body metabolise fats, increase performance and its what makes you feel awesome after a workout. Before bed you want to have lowered cortisol levels so you can drift of into a nice deep sleep.

 However, as well as being vital for your health cortisol is the primary stress hormone. If your cortisol levels become elevated from psychological and or physiological stress it can be bad for health resulting in increased protein breakdown, heightened appetite and could lead to depression.

Some of the effects of elevated cortisol are:
  1. Lowered immunity
  2. Poor short term memory
  3. Constipation
  4. Weight gain - especialy around the waist and abdomen 
  5. Loss of muscle
  6. Reduced hormones - including testosterone and estrogen
No mater what you do there are factors that are going to make you worry which can consume us and leave us feeling stressed. Feeling stressed can lead to over eating and loss of sleep creating a vicious cycle. The more tired you are the more stressed you feel, the more you eat the more you worry about gaining weight, the less you sleep and so on and so on. A book I recommend for stress is 'Flip It, how to get the most out of everything' by Michael Heppell. It teaches you in simple manageable steps how to cope with stressful situations and make the most of your life instead of sitting and worrying about things you cannot change.

It doesn't have to be like this: 

The good news is there are simple steps that can be taken in order to reduce stress and in turn lowering your cortisol levels. If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, the changes are your cortisol levels are too high. Try some of these simple steps to help you drift of:
  • Turn off the TV and read
  • Dim the lights, when your eyes are exposed to too much light your body will not produce the melatonin you need to go to sleep
  • List to relaxing music
  • Take a hot bath
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for and list of things you need to do tomorrow - there is nothing worse than laying in bed over thinking the day ahead
So instead of stressing about your stress try some of the above tips and allow your body to start regulating your cortisol levels naturally - as your body should. The graph below shows what your cortisol levels should do on a daily basis to aid your health. 

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