Cortisol is my enemy

I’ve been doing a lot of research on stress.  I am a scientist at heart.  I have a science background.  I think the human body is AMAZING!  Because I want to know as much as I can about it, I research.

I actually did quite a bit when the quad was injured.  I mean HOURS and HOURS of research.  But that’s a different topic for another day.

Today is about stress and the research I’ve done.

I think we can all agree that caregivers are stressed.  Let’s face it, EVERYONE is stressed these days but caregivers even more so than the typical individual.  On top of work, money, family and every day concerns, there’s the fact that you’re caring for someone else.  Stress on top of stress = way too much stress.

I’ll admit that my search of stress reduction has to do with my weight.  Yes, yes it does…  Over the course of the past few years, I’ve managed to drop 40 lbs.  I KNOW!  Yes, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for it too.  BUT well, I have this belly that I hate and I’ve been working out and eating not THAT terribly and am just wondering what in the hell is going on.

I’ve also been worried about the long term affects of stress.  Let’s face it, stress messes up the human body.  I have a pituitary tumor.   Yes, I have a tumor.  IN MY HEAD!  It’s totally benign…  and no longer doing what it was doing…

But it was messing up my hormones.

You know what I think caused it?  Stress.  I do.  My endocrinologist has no idea what could have caused it.  I’m fairly certain it was stress.

Hormones are CRAZY.  Seriously.  Check out pituitary adenomas sometime…  At 32, my body essentially thought it was in menopause.  Holy hell hot flashes are ridiculous.  I NEVER want to experience them again, although I know I will.  super.

I digress….  Stress.

Look up lowering stress hormones.  Know what will come up?  Cortisol.

Long story short, long term stress produces a ton of cortisol.  Your body can no longer lower it on its own because of it and you’re left feeling like you’re ready to “fight or flight” all the time.

Think about it…  The person you’re caring for calls for you.  What do you do?  Jump to attention and you’re ready to go.  At any hour of the day.  Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you’re ready to go.  Cortisol.   You are always ready to fight the good fight or run the hell away (aka flight).

Stress costs money too.  Yes, I know, another reason why our healthcare system needs to cater to preventive health and long term care…  I read (I have the article) that it is estimated that health care utilization induced by JOB stress costs U.S. companies $68 BILLION annually.

Holy F.  That’s just JOB related stress!

Stress.  The one thing that we can EASILY reduce with more exercise, more relaxation techniques, more vacation time, is costing companies BILLIONS each year.  Companies are just now starting to step up to bat to combat the problem.

However, most aren’t doing enough, fast enough, and caregivers need help now, including those NOT working.

What to do?!

Easier said than done but this is what I’m doing….

  1. Reducing my caffeine intake.  Yes, I know…  it will be the hardest.  BUT apparently caffeine increases cortisol.  Who knew?!  So, no more soda for me.  Coffee?  yes but not as much…  one step at a time people!
  2. Getting more sleep.  I’m not sure how this one will work but I’ll try to go to bed at 10.  I realized that I’ve been going to bed later and later every night…  my wakeup time hasn’t changed either.  Not cool.  So, back to the 10 pm bedtime.
  3. More yoga!  Long story short, turns out running isn’t the greatest if you have too much cortisol.  Instead, meditative exercise, like yoga is better!  Done deal.  I have a mat. I have 10 minutes. I can do yoga.  Yes, you can do yoga in 10 minutes.  As long as you’re doing something, your body will love you for it.
  4. I WILL REMEMBER TO BREATHE.  I do not do this enough nor does anyone else.  TAKE A DEEP BREATH!  Do it again.  and then one more time.  I actually have the kid do this three times before she goes to bed or when she gets upset.  Works every time.
  5. Stop snacking when I’m stressed.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is my downfall.  I’m a stress eater.  I need to stop.  I vow that when I’m upset, I will get up and walk away and get a drink of tea or water.  I will only eat if I’m hungry.  (This one will be tough….).
  6. Smell the roses.  Literally.  Aromatherapy works wonders.  I have a friend who creates blends and we have a few at home.  They are amazing and work!  I vow to use them more.
  7. Stop drinking so much wine.  Yea…  Apparently this one is not that great for your cortisol levels.  Whatever…  thankfully I don’t have any in the house right now other than for cooking so I just won’t buy any for a bit.
  8. Take Magnesium.  All right…  talk to your doctor about this one.  I’ve done research, talked to people, my doctor, and I’m going to try it.  There are studies out there but well, it may not be for everyone so take this one with a grain of salt.  Although I think vitamins are great since we don’t get enough.

That’s my plan.  What’s yours?

2 thoughts on “Cortisol is my enemy

  1. Oh my word, Erin – we have too much in common!! I had this same thing, at age – wait for it – 31! Cortisol is evil. I lost a huge patch of hair in the front of my head and more than 30 lbs (which I later found, and am currently looking to re-lose in a healthy way). I also get crazy dermatitis on my hands that is really painful. Not looking to be a martyr, 🙂 just standing WITH you.

    1. It’s TERRIBLE! Holy hell! It’s amazing how much it can mess with you. So far so good and honestly not having so much caffeine in my life is turning out to be a great thing!!! I love my coffee though… but the hair, holy crap! I haven’t lost huge patches but I did lose a ton for a while. we really do have too much in common and it might not be in a good way for us! and trust me, I know you’re not a martyr! You’re a girl I want to stand with!

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