Kindness + Cortisol: Why it Pays to be Positive

I love getting older, with every year- I understand health a little bit better (or so I like to think). For us, nutrition + health is not only about how we eat and exercise. We really try to keep a healthy mind aka we like to avoid stress/negativity as much as we can.  Which, in the world we live in, can definitely be a struggle. Although the type A in me would positively LOVE to control any and all things- it’s just not possible. But we can control what we let upset us. By 28 years old (and Patrick 30) we both really only get stressed out (or try to only get stressed out) about the things that matter – family, friends, our health, etc. One thing that really, truly makes us feel so good- is just plain old being nice and trying to keep our mood positive about ourselves and others. Which takes us to (plot twist!) Cortisol. 

From the Doctor: When you feel stress (anger, jealousy, fear, etc) your hypothalamus tells your adrenal glands to release hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Cortisol increases glucose in your bloodstream to enhance your brains use of glucose (possibly increasing risk for type 2 diabetes).  Your body is in survival mode and in turn suppressing vital functions in the body; such as: the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

Typically once you no longer feel threatened (or stressed) these levels stabilize; however, when you are exposed to “long-term activation of the stress-response system” aka overexposure of cortisol for a prolonged period of time, this can cause inflammation and also put your health at risk for: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and memory/concentration impairment.

From the Dietitian: Obviously we can’t avoid stress all together. Cortisol is also necessary for vital body functions so you don’t want to do away with it completely by any means. The goal is to only stress – when it’s necessary and keep negativity as far away as possible. It takes a lot to really get under my skin (or Patrick’s) and that’s something that is purposeful. We’re by no means perfect and we all have our moods because at the end of the day we’re still human BUT we try to find the positive in people, ourselves and in situations. Not just to benefit others but also ourselves. For me, I need something more tangible than breathing exercises (works great for some) to help settle stress sometimes and showing kindness to other people has really gone a long way with keeping my anxiety/stress at bay and my environment positive. I’ve definitely been told “you’re too nice” “too bubbly” but I think people don’t realize it’s for my own benefit too. Letting everything get to you, in our opinion, is just not healthy and there are so many real things to worry about in life when they come up (health of a family member for example) to stress about the little things. Being rude or nasty or negative only takes more energy – so it pays to be kind, positive & just relax!

Happy Monday + Keep those Cortisol levels at bay!

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