Stress Part 2 – Cortisol

Many of us have heard the term “fight or flight”. This term was originally named because it is the body’s ability to fight or flee during times of severe threat or danger. When a fight or flight response occurs, cortisol and adrenaline are two major hormones that get released to give the body a burst of energy and strength. These two hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, can work in a positive way when they are secreted in small amounts at the proper time. I am sure you have heard the words “an adrenal rush”. An adrenal rush takes place to help the body accomplish an extremely challenging task which requires more strength them it normally exerts. Heightened levels of cortisol will not only provide the body with additional strength when needed but will also improve memory function, lowers its sensitivity to pain, and helps the body maintain homeostasis.

You need to maintain the proper balance of cortisol in your body. Too much or too little is harmful in your body. It is a necessary function for your body to produce small amounts of this hormone at certain times, but too much can be potentially harmful. Too much can cause an elevated heart rate, a slower digestive system, divert blood flow to different muscle groups, and change various other autonomic nervous functions. These are the immediate effects of elevated cortisol in the bloodstream. The long term effect on your body is not only physical but mental as well.