Stress is something that is a part of everyday life, right? In some respects, this is true and your body is designed to react to stress in such a way as to provide protection from its consequences. Problems arise when too much stress is present in your life and you are constantly on alert. Adrenaline and cortisol both react to stressors to enable you to cope and then return the body to normal levels when the stress subsides. If the stress does not subside, you put yourself at risk.
In the reaction process, your body relies on the hypothalamus, which is a tiny region within the brain that will set off an alarm system in your body to react to perceived threats. A special combination of nerve and hormonal signals prompts the adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, which include adrenaline and cortisol.
When this reaction occurs, adrenaline increases the heart rate, boosts energy supplies and elevates blood pressure. At the same time, cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, will increase sugars in the bloodstream and enhance the brain’s ability to use glucose properly. It also increases the availability of substances necessary to repair tissues.
The stress-response system inherent in all humans is generally self-regulating. As a result, the system decreases hormone levels and enables the body to return to normal once the perceived threat has been removed. In the process, adrenaline and cortisol levels will drop, ensuring the heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels. Other systems within the body should return to regular activities.
Problems arise in this natural process, however, when stressors are always present. The person is left to feel constantly stressed and the adrenal glands jump into overdrive. This overexposure of cortisol and other stress-related hormones puts the individual at an increase risk for depression, heart disease, obesity, digestive problems, sleep problems, memory impairment and a reliance on illegal drugs or alcohol to deal with the intense pressure.
There are some in the medical or psychological field who suggest that activities to produce heightened levels of adrenaline can offset the effects of cortisol in the body and produce a more positive outcome. The problem does not necessarily lie in the individual’s choice of activities, but more in their inability to react to them in a healthful manner.
In other words, choosing activities that keep the adrenaline running at high levels is not going to reduce the level overall and still presents a risk to the individual. Yes, exercise and other intense activities can help to alleviate stressors that increase adrenaline levels; but the right balance needs to be achieved in both high intensities activities and those considered to be stressful. Only then can the individual achieve a steady and healthy lifestyle.