Your body is constantly working to keep you in balance and when it experiences stress, it releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These are very important because they help you deal with stress, but they are only meant as temporary survival mechanisms.
During a stress reaction, the body first releases adrenaline, which speeds up your response ability so that you can for example quickly react to approaching physical danger.
After that cortisol is released which works during a longer period of time, so that you can continue functioning while in an ongoing stressful situation.
This happens by increasing your blood sugar level, which gives you more energy and also keeps you alert. As a result, your body has to release another hormone, insulin, to lower your blood sugar.
With prolonged stress, cortisol overloads the physiological systems in your body.
It also disrupts the production of other important hormones such as melatonin which is essential for healthy sleep and the happiness hormones dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters that enable information flow between the different nerve cells in the brain. They literally enable the perception of happiness and wellbeing.
Constantly high cortisol levels can cause sleep problems, a weak immune system, lack of concentration, binge eating, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
It is therefore very important to become aware of what causes stress in your life, so that you can make adjustments and create balance.
What role do adaptogens play in reducing stress?
Adaptogens change the stress response of the body and increase resistance to various stressors. There are different types of stressors including:
- physical: such as an accident, injuries, training too hard or not moving enough and lack of sleep.
- chemical: such as toxins, an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, medicines, air pollution.
- emotional: such as fear, sadness, anger.
Adaptogens help regulate the hormone system, the nervous system and the immune system, among other things.
One of their main functions is their ability to help stabilize the internal environment of the human body by influencing the neuroendocrine system (the interaction between the nervous and hormone systems).
They help increase your adaptability to external conditions and promote homeostasis of the body. Homeostasis is the balancing of the body by various internal regulation mechanisms by organs and tissues.
Adaptogens have a positive interaction with the adrenal glands, which stops excessive hormone production. In addition, they can increase cellular energy levels and help prevent oxidative damage, contributing to maintain normal adrenal function.
Adaptogens can naturally bring more balance and well-being to your life, but it is important to realize that they complement and work in synergy with the rest of your lifestyle choices.
Stress always has a cause and is in fact here to tell us something. By observing what creates stress in our lives and then making positive changes, we tackle it at the core, rather than just fighting the symptoms.
The essence lies in taking care of yourself well, which starts with listening to what you need.
Often we don't even realize that our body is experiencing stress, because we are so used to being constantly busy and "having to be or do" so much.
What helps is to be engaged with what makes you happy, an inspiring environment, healthy diet, sufficient relaxation, positive thoughts and emotions, regular exercise, time in nature and living in the here and now.