Stress is more prevalent today than any other time before. There are physical stressors, quarantines, varying opinions about all ways to care for ourselves, political arguments everywhere, threats to medical freedom, job insecurities and so much more. Stress is inevitable and unavoidable so the questions is how is all this stress affecting our bodies?
Hormonal shifts during stress.
In response to stress, the body creates various hormonal changes. One of the reactions associated with with stress is an enhanced secretion of a number of hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin. This happens for the purpose of increasing mobilization of energy sources and adapt the individual to its new circumstance.
Activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis is one of the most common responses to stress that affects both the neurological response and endocrine response. Stimulation of this axis results in the secretion of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF then stimulates the pituitary to adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), 8-lipotropin and 3-endorphin. Plasma levels of these hormones can increase also - to fivefold during stress in humans.
Stimulation of the pituitary-adrenal axis is associated with release of catecholamines. This leads to increased heart-rate, increased blood flow, sodium retention, slowed digestion, increased glucose, changes in breathing patterns and behavioral changes.
Acute stress leads to rapid release of vasopressin from the hypothalamus along with corticotrophin releasing hormone CRH. Vasopressin can stimulate secretion of ACTH from the pituitary by acting on the V1b receptor, potentiating the effect of CRH. When chronic stress is experienced these effects and the subsequent hormonal imbalances greatly increase.
Thyroid function is usually down-regulated during stressful conditions as well. T3 and T4 levels decrease and TSH is inhibited leading to potential occurrence of thyroid disorders.
Insulin may decrease during stress. This along with increase in its antagonistic hormones can contribute to stress-induced difficulty with regulating sugars and even lead to an increased risk of diabetes.
These are just a few of the shifts and potential hazards of stress.
Research has shown that stress can increase the risk of all of the following disorders.
- Thyroid Storm
- Gonadal Disfunction
- Psychosocial Disorders
- Mood changes
- Memory Loss
Stress Reduction Techniques
While stress can wreak havoc on your hormones and ultimately your life the important thing to remember is this is all within your control. You are not a victim, you are in full control of your circumstances.
Exercise is a great way to address stress, clear the mind and feel accomplished. Research indicates that just 30 minutes of physical activity each day can not only reduce stress hormones but also improve sleep quality which is known to help to manage the effects of stress.
Caffeine is proven to increase the effects of stress so reducing the amount of caffeine is essential in the battle against stress. However, a great replacement is 1 liter of water in the morning. If drank before anything else it can wake up the organs, increased digestion, increase alertness and supply long lasting energy.
Mindfulness simply put is bringing attention to yourself. When you feel stressed take a moment to think about what you're feeling, why you are feeling it and helps to give direction to a solution. There are many mindfulness techniques you can use but to simply begin to think about only the moment you're in and stop thinking into the future with worry and anxiety will immediately reduce the stress response.
Schedule a Session
If you feel too overwhelmed or fear you are unable to effectively reduce your own stress to benefit your endocrine system you can schedule a session with me to clear the stress energy and support the subconscious mind with positive energy, positive reinforcements and get individualized recommendations for optimal health. BOOK HERE.