How often do you hear people say ‘I’m stressed out’ or ‘I’m overwhelmed’? Sure, we all have instances when we’re under pressure to meet a deadline, to give a presentation, or to get our kids to school on time. Occasional stress is to be expected, but it becomes a problem when the stress never goes away and it becomes part of your daily life. Unfortunately, some people start to accept this as the new normal but, it can be detrimental to one’s health. According to the American Institute for Stress, 60% of illness and disease stems from stress and 3 out of 4 doctors’ visits are for stress related ailments.
Cortisol is known as our stress hormone. It is produced by our adrenal glands which are located on top of our kidneys. Cortisol is a hormone our bodies make in response to stress and is important in regulating our sleep cycle and blood sugar. Increases of cortisol for short periods of time is necessary and will help our bodies adjust to stressful situations appropriately. However, if cortisol remains high for an extended period of time it can be very harmful. Cortisol levels may be increased due to ongoing stressful situations, prolonged illness, depression, and extensive use of some synthetic hormones. Increased cortisol levels over an extended period of time may lead to increased blood pressure, increased cholesterol, an extreme lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, reduced functioning of our immune system, and memory loss. Six months of constant stress can lead to adrenal fatigue and it can take one or more years for your body to completely heal with treatment.
Improving cortisol levels may be achieved by integrating different relaxation techniques such as walking, meditation, or deep breathing exercises into our daily lives. Plan projects accordingly and don’t procrastinate as it just leads to more stress. Supplement your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. A body that is stressed manages nutrients and hormones differently. Taking a good quality multivitamin or B-Complex vitamin like Annie’s B-Complete, could really make a difference. Use of adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, cordyceps, rhodiola, and licorice help to support your adrenal glands so your body can cope with stress better.
Cortisol plays a vital role in keeping our bodies functioning optimally. So, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above don’t put it off another day! Take a moment to take care of yourself so you can get back on track to being your best you. Only then will you really be able to tackle your other responsibilities without the constant burnout.
If you're concerned about any of the above symptoms or have questions about the supplements mentioned talk to your Annie's pharmacist. We have an in home saliva test that can check your cortisol levels. We’ll walk you through the testing process and go over your test results and treatment options with you. We look forward to working with you to improve your overall health.