These days, it has become a fashion to blame the stress for whole lot of ills and worse is, attribute it to the deadlines at the workplace. There is not much truth in it, because our bodies are well equipped to deal with short lived stress, which the deadline related stress ought to be, unless a person keeps accepting new targets even when he knows that he is pushed for time.
What our bodies are not equipped to deal with is intermittent stress which is wrongly called chronic stress. To understand the intermittent stress, let us learn about the physiology of stress. Two systems in the body respond to the stress. They are – (a) Hormonal System by way of Cortisol release and (b) Nervous system by releasing noradrenaline. When stress occurs, the nervous system kicks in within seconds and also ceases equally fast after the stressor is over. On the other hand, cortisol is released well after the stressor sets in and also it lingers on for a while after the stress is over. If another stressor occurs, before the cessation of cortisol, body continues in the stress mode which means chronic elevation of cortisol. This is not what body is designed for, and this occurs mostly due to anger and ego like getting irked at red signal or getting angry at a vehicle that overtakes you during traffic jam. If we appreciate the ill-effects of chronic high cortisol levels, some of which are listed below, probably we will appreciate the truth in the adage – “Anger is like a eating a rat poison and expecting the rat to die”
Some of the ill-effects of chronic elevation of Cortisol:
- Interferes with the production of thyroid hormones and the conversion of T4 to T3 which means less calorie burn.
- Plays havoc with Digestive System by shutting it, reducing the assimilation of nutrients on one hand and increasing the craving for comfort foods on the other hand, most of which is high caloried and nutritionally imbalanced.
- Disrupts the reproductive system which also means less testosterone and this has negative effects on training and fitness goals, besides conception problems.