Today was a return for me to my ultra Alpha state. Not intentionally but through a gentle bit of persuasion I found myself lined up to swim for the first time in 10 or so years. Why? Obviously to support my child but also I relished the opportunity to get back on the blocks and see what could happen.
I loved it. I loved the feeling of the standing on the block, I loved the feeling of the blood being pumping around my body and I loved the high. The surge of adrenaline was so immese I felt sick but ready for anything ... to fight or flight
"Anything that gets your blood racing is propably worth doing.... "
It wasn't until the end of the event that I realised what I had done to myself. I had always assumed that this state was my norm. This was the state that I enjoyed to be in and where I functioned best. In reality this was my stressed state where my body called on all of its Cortisol or "stress hormones" which I know have had damaging effects of my body.
Cortisol (along with its partner epinephrine) is best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival. The resulting biochemical and hormonal imbalances (ideally) resolve due to a hormonally driven negative feedback loop.
In our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal.
This can lead to health problems resulting from too much circulating cortisol and/or from too little cortisol if the adrenal glands become chronically fatigued (adrenal fatigue).
Higher and more prolonged levels of circulating cortisol (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:*
Impaired cognitive performance
Dampened thyroid function
Blood sugar imbalances, such as hyperglycemia
Decreased bone density
Decreased muscle mass
Elevated blood pressure
Lowered immune function
Slow wound healing
Increased abdominal fat, which has a stronger correlation to certain health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems.*
Chronically lower levels of circulating cortisol (as in adrenal fatigue) have been associated with negative effects, such as.
Brain fog, cloudy-headedness and mild depression
Low thyroid function
Blood sugar imbalances, such as hypoglycemia
Fatigue – especially morning and mid-afternoon fatigue
Low blood pressure
Lowered immune function
Fortunately im now more in-tune with my body and mind and I recognised the need to bring my cortisol levels back down. It was fairly easy and I followed these simple 4 steps 1) a cold shower. the water running over my head was an immediate relaxant. 2) cooling breath, breathing in through clenched teeth or a rounded tongue for 10-20 breaths brought my heart rate back down 3) Yoga to stretch and Instant Relaxation Techniques and 4) Meditation. This is the balance bit of the puzzle which I never knew existed before.
You cannot fundamentally change who you are but you can find ways to bring the body into balance