Our bodies are under-performing and overly stressed because of our lack of getting in nature and syncing with the natural rhythms of creation.
Our bodies are built for stressful events. When our ancestors were chased by predators, the sympathetic nervous system responded by switching the body into fight-or-flight mode. During this stress response, the adrenal glands release cortisol, which increases blood pressure and blood sugar for faster response and better survival. When the predators were gone, cortisol decreased, and so did blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Normal balance was restored. However, ongoing stress (that feels like predators to your brain) doesn’t turn it back off.
I don’t know about you but I always like knowing WHY?!
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, making your blood more likely to clot, damaging your brain’s memory center, increasing belly fat storage, and generally wreaking havoc on your body. If the stressor is life-threatening, this response is actually a good thing, because it causes your body to prioritize one thing: survival. However, feeling this way all of the time is clearly not good for your health or your sleep. People with insomnia often report trouble falling asleep due to worrying and overthinking about stressors affecting them.
One issue with long-term stress is it can cause chronically elevated cortisol levels. Now, I mentioned before that cortisol isn’t necessarily the bad guy, but if you are experiencing constant stress and focusing on the negative impact, the high levels or cortisol can cause anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, weight gain, brain impairment, and of course, chronic sleep issues.
And unfortunately, people are living increasingly stressful lives. It feels entirely unavoidable at times. When you factor in how stressful it is to hear about the damaging effects of stress, it can be overwhelming and feel hopeless.
Because stress is inevitable, and we can’t avoid it (many people get stuck in avoidance) we need to shift from asking WHY to HOW, so how can we reframe our stress to benefit our brains, bodies and sleep?
I’ve already talked about the physiological response to stress: our bodies release cortisol and norepinephrine to stimulate epinephrine and your “flight or fight” response. This includes increasing your blood pressure, output of blood from the heart, increased blood sugar levels (also shunts blood away from your digestive system) and fatty acid levels, and alerts your immune system. Essentially, during this time you are supercharged with a boost of energy, speed, strength, and even heightened senses—all good things.
Here are some other good things about cortisol:
• Cortisol is also elevated during fun, excitement, sporting events, and thrilling adventures—it is responsible for enriching your experience.
• Cortisol helps boost energy, make you feel more alert, and reduces fatigue.
• You can experience a sense of calm following a cortisol spike.
• Cortisol can boost the formation of memories.
• It can help to increase your focus, concentration, productivity, and brainpower.
• When you experience something really traumatic or deep grief, cortisol can help ease the negative emotional response.
Remember that cortisol, oxytocin, and stress response are there to help you, make you rise to the occasion, make you kick into overdrive, and make you reach out for support and connection. These are all good things, we just have to use them appropriately instead of constantly. If we aren’t allowing our bodies to recover, this is when these hormones go rogue and continuously and negatively impact the body, brain + sleep.
Reducing Stress Starter Pack:
-GO OUTSIDE multiple times throughout the day, our bodies are under-performing and overstressed because of our lack of getting in creation and syncing with the natural rhythms of creation.
-Breathe Deeply through your nose
-Do NOT drink coffee on an empty stomach
-Swap afternoon coffee for an afternoon matcha latte
-Eat a carrot salad everyday
-Eat enough baseline calories
-Step off the insulin rollercoaster, balance your blood sugar with proper macronutrient balance of protein, fat and carbs
-Get more sunshine to heal your circadian rhythm + incorporate red light therapy
-Do 30 min. weight workouts with plenty of recovery windows in-between sets
-Overexercising can be the sole reason you can’t kick stress because you’re running on cortisol
-Consider coffee enemas + castor oil packs to support your liver + balance your liver
-Look into Cognitive behavioral therapy for mental/emotional side of sleep
-Sleep is the biggest antidote for anxiety but sleep anxiety can cause an aversion to sleep, identify your triggers
Recognizing that the mind + body aren’t separate
My Favorite Daily Stress Management Tools:
Eating a macro bar upon waking
Making King Coffee with Raw Creamer
Making a list of what I need to accomplish for the week/the day
Cleaning, Organizing and Decluttering
Exercising + Movement
Setting a caffeine curfew
Setting my phone down and going on a walk for 20 minutes uninterrupted