Stress and depression is sweeping the world. 1 in 2 people experience anxiety related disorders.
Stress however is not always the enemy, and in small doses may be good for us.
How is this so? During times of stress our body produces cortisol. In small doses cortisol increases our mental alertness, preparing us for a flight or fight response. In the hunter gather days, this allowed us to escape predators. However in today’s world, we don’t have the imminent threat of being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger.
Whilst some stress can be seen to have a positive effect on the body, prolonged periods of stress do the complete opposite. Over long periods of time, cortisol weakens our immunity, making us more susceptible to illness.
Have you ever been sick after exams, or at the start of your holidays? You can thank cortisol for that.
Over the long term cortisol can increase waist circumference, which is a key risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. Prolonged stress also impairs our ability to think clearly and make decisions. This can have a significant impact on our home and work life.
So how do we keep our cortisol levels in check?
• Meditate daily: Meditation has been clinically proven to produce more of the brain waves that relate to a calm and relaxed state of mind, switching off our bodies release of cortisol.
• Exercise at moderate intensity: By exercising at moderate intensity, we allow for the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters switch on learning centres of our brain and help improve concentration and learning ability.
• Breathe deeply: When stressed we often breathe more shallowly. This is often caused by our accessory muscles breathing for us. As opposed to our diaphragm, which is key in supplying the right amount of carbon dioxide output helping us regulate our breath. When we take time to breathe deep and slow, it sends a message to our brain to relax. This relaxation helps us reduce stress, and provides us with super fun happy times!!!!!