A Couple of corners ago I mentioned stress in regards to fertility. Stress however, relates to everyone and their health, no matter what brings it on. Bits of positive stress are healthy and leave you feeling euphoric. Healthy stress is short term like during exercise or a deadline for work or school. But when stress is long term you will experience adverse affects; as chronic fatigue, loss of interest or motivation in things you enjoy, irritability, headache, stomach-ache, or other pain…. You may have heard the word cortisol thrown around relating to stress. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” it is released in the body during times of stress or when using stimulating substances like caffeine. Cortisol is released along with other hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine – the “fight or flight” response we get when we sense danger. Normally after the danger or threat or whatever is creating the stress is over, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels return to normal. Cortisol on the other hand can remain high for a period of time. The trouble is when you are subjected to chronic stress and never get a break from it, then cortisol remains high never having a chance to dip back down.
Cortisol is important however, and has many actions in the body. The main goal of cortisol secretion is a production of energy for the body. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, as well as insulin release and steady blood sugar levels. The goal or result of this = an increase in appetite. You can see if cortisol remains high, how weight gain could be an issue as appetite is consistently stimulated. Not only weight gain being a problem but how what this gain is turned into and how it is stored. This gain turns unfortunately to dangerous fat and storage in the abdominal area which is toxic. This leads to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Ways to destress are to laugh lots, exercise, eat well, practice positive thoughts and certain targeted stretching exercises like in yoga or slow controlled exercises as in Taiichi. Below are a few examples of exercises you can do to destress and calm your hormones. While doing the following exercises breath long and slow. In through your nose and out through your mouth is best for a count of about 3-5 seconds each.
Lie on back with your buttocks to wall or closest to the wall as you can get. Start on your side get in close then lift one leg at a time up onto wall as you roll onto your back. Using a pillow, bolster or rolled up blanket under pelvis may be easier on the back for some. You can also move legs apart for a mild inner thigh stretch. Women should not do this exercise with bolster or any type of lift during menstruation.
This pose calms the nervous system and helps reduce blood pressure and helps balance endocrine system, which is a huge hormonal regulatory system. Practice this pose with knees apart to allow belly to relax.