Uncovering Unseen Sources of Stress: Identifying and Dealing with Unexpected Stress Triggers
Do you ever feel exhausted and overwhelmed, yet have no idea why? Stress can crop up in many unexpected forms and come from areas of our lives that we don't even realize.
From trying to keep up with your sleep cycle, to feeling pressure from society, there is a wide range of unseen sources of stress lurking beneath the surface.
In This blog post, we shed light on some of the little things that might apply to you, causing undue stress.
Stress Isn't All Bad
As humans, we have always had to deal with stress. It's a natural response to events or situations that we perceive as threatening or challenging. Our bodies produce the hormone cortisol in response to stress, and it serves an important purpose: it helps us to cope with the stressful situation. Cortisol helps us to stay alert and focused, and it gives us the energy we need to deal with whatever is causing us stress.
In small amounts, cortisol is a helpful and necessary hormone. However, when we're constantly exposed to stressors, our bodies can overproduce cortisol. This can lead to a range of negative health effects, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Our ancestors didn't stand a chance if this response was absent. In the face of imminent danger, survival wouldn't even be a priority.
So, the important thing to remember is that not all stress is bad. Some degree of stress is actually necessary for optimal functioning. In fact, moderate levels of stress can even be beneficial, providing a motivating force that helps us achieve our goals. It's only when stress becomes excessive or chronic that it becomes harmful.
Smoking And Alcohol Consumption
The negative effects of smoking and alcohol consumption on cortisol levels have been well documented. Smoking can increase cortisol levels by as much as 50%, while alcohol can increase cortisol levels by up to a massive 300%. This is because both smoking and alcohol consumption are stressors on the body, and when the body is stressed, what does it do? It releases more cortisol in order to help deal with the stress.
The negative effects of elevated cortisol levels are well known and might include a suppressed immune system and an increased risk of stroke.
This doesn't mean that everyone will experience these negative effects of smoking or alcohol consumption.
They are often even regarded as "relaxants", although this is most likely to only be a psychological effect.
Regardless, it is important to remember that everyone's body is different, and what happens to one person's body might not happen at all to another.
It's important to note that this doesn't mean you can never drink or smoke again — it just means that you should do so in moderation, and be aware of the potential health risks associated with overindulging.
If you are concerned about the effect that smoking or alcohol consumption is having on your cortisol levels, talk to your doctor about ways to mitigate those effects or to devise a plan for quitting.
Poor Sleep Habits
Poor sleep habits are a blanket term that includes not sleeping enough, staying up too late, or not maintaining a predictable sleep pattern. All of these adversely affect you and cause cortisol spiking.
Chronic lack of sleep can lead to chronically high levels of cortisol, which can have a range of negative consequences on both mind and body. Poor sleep habits can also disrupt our natural cortisol rhythm, in turn making it harder to get to sleep. You can see how the two play into each other's hands and make it increasingly difficult to sleep the longer it goes on for.
But, one of the most concerning things about chronically high cortisol levels has to be the fact that it can actually lead to changes in the brain that make it harder to get good sleep- permanently.
This creates a vicious cycle in which lack of sleep leads to higher cortisol levels, which leads to worse sleep, which leads to even higher cortisol levels. This cycle can be extremely difficult to break, so it's important to address any sleep issues as soon as possible if you want to keep your cortisol levels in check.
There are a number of strategies you can use to improve your sleep hygiene and help get your cortisol levels back in balance. First, try to establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid staying up too late, and too often. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, and avoid using electronic devices or watching television in bed.
Finally, if this difficulty persists for more than a few weeks, do not hesitate to try an all-natural sleep aide like DREAMZZZ for help.
The formula will not cause you to become reliant, and instead, works by fixing your circadian rhythm so things get back on track.
Money is often seen as a taboo subject, but the reality is that finances can be one of the biggest sources of stress for many people. Although it may not always be obvious, our financial worries and anxieties can have a real effect on our physical and mental health.
In fact, studies have shown that worrying about money can lead to increased cortisol levels in the body - which can cause all sorts of problems as we already mentioned. So if you're feeling overwhelmed by your finances, it's important to take steps to manage your stress before it gets out of hand.
Hiring a financial planner or consultant is one great way to help you get back on track with your finances. They can provide valuable advice and guidance, as well as practical tips to help you stay within a budget and reach your financial goals.
Another helpful strategy is to create a detailed budget that takes into account all of your expenses and income. Sticking to this budget will help you better manage your finances and reduce any unnecessary stress. Additionally, having a clear picture of where your money is going can help you prioritize your spending and make more informed decisions.
For too long, finances have been the reason why people don't get enough sleep at night.
Time pressure is a common source of stress for many people. When there is a sense that time is running out, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.
One way to combat this is to change your perception of time. When you feel rushed, take a step back and remind yourself that you have all the time in the world.
This may not be easy to do, but it is possible. You can also try to create a more relaxed environment for yourself. This might mean taking some time for yourself each day or setting aside specific times when you will not be working.
Even better, whenever possible, don't put off work. Spreading something out over many days will definitely feel less painful than cramming it all into one day. Taking the time to plan ahead and spread out your work will help you manage your stress levels more effectively.
Finally, eliminating unnecessary tasks can also make a huge difference in how much stress you feel. There are plenty of things that we do each day because they seem like “the right thing”, but they may not actually add any value to our lives. So take the time to identify which tasks are truly necessary and let go of anything that doesn't serve you.
Frequent Exercise Sessions
When it comes to exercise, more is never better. Your body needs rest in between sessions, especially when it comes to weightlifting. It is important to give your body time to recover and repair between workouts.
One of the main primary that cortisol levels can be elevated is via exercise. In general, exercise does lead to an increase in cortisol levels (even transiently). This is especially true for frequent, long, and intense sessions, which can cause a significant spike in cortisol levels.
This increase might seem beneficial for athletes who are looking to increase their performance in the short term, but it will also be harmful if done incorrectly or too frequently.
Your body will fail to respond to any exercise after a certain point, leading to fatigue and exhaustion that might take weeks to resolve.
Low Protein Diets
Unknown to many people, low-protein diets can also affect cortisol levels. Studies have shown that low-protein diets can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which in turn can cause weight gain and other negative health effects. Low-protein diets are usually likely to affect vegans and vegetarians, who are already at a greater risk of having low levels of dietary protein.
To prevent elevated cortisol levels and maintain good health if you only eat plant-based foods, it's important to make sure you're getting enough dietary protein from the sources available. Nuts, legumes, and grains are all excellent sources of vegan protein, so be sure to include them in your diet.
The amino acids leucine especially has been shown to help stimulate muscle growth and reduce cortisol levels. Eating foods such as soy, chickpeas, quinoa, or sunflower seeds can help to make sure you're getting adequate amounts of leucine in your diet.
A protein powder such as Radiance is also recommended for non-vegetarians to help meet recommended intakes and support optimal health.
An Imbalance Of Omega-6 To Omega-3
While the world knows the merits of Omega-3 consumption, less is known about Omega-6. It is extremely abundant in our diets, and sadly, that is what causes the problem.
Omega-6 is a pro-inflammatory fatty acid, while Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. When we do not have a balance of the two in our diets, it can cause an increase in cortisol levels via inflammatory processes.
To maintain a balance between these two fatty acids, try to focus on eating more Omega-3-rich foods such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Additionally, you should minimize your intake of processed and fried foods, as these are usually high in Omega-6.
A lack of key micronutrients, including Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vit A can cause increases in cortisol. This is due to the fact that these micronutrients play a key role in hormone metabolism and regulation, meaning if we are lacking in them, it can create imbalances in our hormones.
If you suspect you might not be getting enough of these nutrients, it is in your best interest to ensure that you supplement with a high-quality source like Fortify.
Your mental state and emotional health can have a profound impact on your stress levels and subsequently, cortisol.
Feelings of anger, sadness, rejection, or anxiety will also cause an adrenal response, which includes the release of the fight-or-flight hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
That's why it is important to manage your stress and try to maintain a positive outlook on life. If you are finding it difficult to get a hold of it by yourself, a cognitive behavioral therapist can help temper your responses and allow you to be in greater control of your emotional state.
Social pressure is at an all-time high. The rise of social media is to be blamed in part since it has created an environment of comparison and competition that can cause people to feel overwhelmed and ultimately, stressed out.
Indeed, this spiral of feeling inadequate can lead to worse outcomes, such as depression and substance abuse.
That is why it is important that we take active steps to manage our psychological health by creating boundaries when it comes to use of social media, setting aside time for ourselves, and making sure that we do not get too caught up in the rat race.
Ultimately, focusing on yourself is key to helping you relax your mind and controlling your response to stress.
There are many more stress triggers, some well-known, and others not so much. As such, identification is a necessary first step in order to help you manage and reduce your overall stress levels.
Once identified, appropriate stress management techniques should be employed to help you maintain balance and better control your cortisol levels. These could include exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes such as meditation or yoga.
The key is to look after yourself first so that you can be in a better position to take on the day-to-day challenges that life throws at us.