Are you a fantastic combination of enthusiasm and zeal tempered with a strong sense of responsibility and an eye on achieving the hard stuff? While this might be a boon for any employer, when talking about your adrenal system taking on the role of the workaholic, it’s a whole different matter.
What’s Up With Cortisol, Anyway?
“Cortisol” has become a buzzword among not only the most reputable healthcare providers but also with the fly-by-night, miracle-cure supplement companies that promise a thinner body and more balanced life. Unfortunately, reining in high cortisol is a lot more complicated than simply taking a mystery capsule. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal and pituitary glands. Before life became so hectic for the average woman (or man), it wasn’t a problem. Without constant stressors and stimuli, cortisol would retreat back to its corner and wait for a time when it was really needed. The problem with cortisol is that it affects your body on many different levels; it can cause weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and immune system deficiencies. So just how does this happen?
Symptoms of Cortisol Excess
As with many things in life, pinpointing physiological problems isn’t always easy. You may be worried you’ll be called a hypochondriac or prescribed medications that may or may not work. Here are some common symptoms that can be found with either Cushing’s disease or excess cortisol in your bloodstream:
Weight gain that includes fatty tissue development. This is seen particularly around the upper back and midsection, as well as between the shoulder blades and legs.
Slow or decreased healing of common cuts, scrapes, and insect bites
Pink or purple stretch marks that are typically found on the legs, arms, thighs, and abdomen
Thin skin that tears or bruises more easily and takes a longer time to heal
Irregular or completely missed periods
An abnormal amount of facial or body hair that grows in more thickly and visibly (also known as hirsutism)
Depression, irritability, and anxiety
What You Can Do About Excess Cortisol
While there isn’t a magic cure, excess cortisol can be managed in many individuals through more prudent food consumption and a few small lifestyle changes.
One of the easiest ways to work on reducing stress-induced cortisol release is through calming your autonomic nervous system. This can be anything that calms both the mind and body. For instance, many people find yoga or meditation to be extremely helpful in achieving a more balanced and relaxed state throughout the day. If you aren’t the yoga type, consider something such as painting, knitting, getting a pedicure, listening to relaxing music or a leisurely nature walk.
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