When a past event or recently upcoming event is overwhelming, this triggers stress.
As a response to overwhelming demands, the adrenal glands produce a steroid hormone called Cortisol as a stress-response essential for the fight-flight mode. Certain medications such as corticosteroids (used in treatments such as asthma, arthritis) can also cause an increase in cortisol levels. If the body’s stress-response is triggered too often without giving it time to return to normal, this may result in chronic stress.
Cortisol is important for the body to overcome threats and function normally, but long term exposure to cortisol can cause health issues that manifest in our physical state (Blood sugar and cholesterol imbalances, higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, impaired cognition and metabolism, inflammation, exhaustion, and other health issues) and emotional state (eating disorder, depression, anxiety, nervousness, Alzheimer and even dementia).
Stress can be measured in real-time from biological samples (cortisol levels in blood, urine, saliva and sweat) and variability in heart rate using devices. The perception of stress can also be measured using psychological assessment tests.
Here are a few essential pointers to better manage our stress levels,
- Meditate with self-enquiry, reflection and mindfulness
- Stimulate by exercising, listening to music, doing volunteer work and activities we enjoy
- Radiate positivity by learning to forgive, smile and showing gratitude
And most importantly, get the right amount of sleep.
The author is a Healthcare IT Executive and founding member at CortiqaHealth, a company dedicated to making healthcare accessible, affordable and easy-to-use.