When you experience stress, your body shifts into a fight-or-flight state (aka the “sympathetic” nervous system response), and your physiological resources get focused on short term survival. Your body starts pumping sugar out to your muscles, quickening your breathing and heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, and dilating your pupils… all so you can fight or flee the dangerous threat.
When that stressor ends, you can then shift back into rest-and-digest (aka “parasympathetic” nervous system) which is where your body can turn its attention back to longer term functions like digestion, wound healing and IMMUNE FUNCTION.
Unfortunately, at times like these it can seem like the stress is never ending and we can get stuck in fight-or-flight.
When we are stuck in fight-or-flight we are literally
cut off from our body’s ability to heal!
Right now, it’s more important than ever to downshift your nervous system into the parasympathetic mode where your immune system can be the most effective at protecting you.
And when you are in a more relaxed parasympathetic state, there are many other benefits! You can think more clearly, respond more calmly (anyone feeling irritable lately?) and be more creative in your problem solving. When your stress is under control, that helps you cope with everything going on, and your hormones will work better, too!
If you tend to experience hormonal issues of any kind, you may have noticed that they tend to be worse when your stress is high. Why is that?? Well, it has to do with the many effects of the hormone cortisol.
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys in your mid-back, produce the hormone CORTISOL. This hormone is the key regulator of your stress response and is highly active when you are in fight-or-flight.
Taxed by acute or chronic STRESS, dysregulated adrenal function can also disrupt your thyroid, your blood sugar (insulin) and your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) among other effects.
As you can see in the graphic above, so many other hormones are impacted by cortisol!!! And these other hormones impact so much of you how you feel on a day-to-day basis…. your energy, sleep quality, mood swings, weight gain, brain fog, hot flashes, skin health, digestive function and even your IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Calming your body and nervous system, and balancing your hormones overall, will reduce the impacts of stress, help you feel better in your body AND help your immune system to work better.
Your stress management practices are critically important,
now more than ever!
If you could use some expert guidance to help you find your balance, we’d love to help you. Sign up for a complimentary Vitality Discovery Call here so we can learn more about you and help to figure out the best next steps in your particular situation.