The Physiological & Hormonal Impact of Stress

We’re likely all familiar with the concept of stress

Familiar with the feeling of it and the effects

But it’s not just about mental and emotional – it’s useful to understand the physiological and hormonal effects

Stress is a survival response – when there is a threat real or perceived body goes into stress mode

Some stress is useful for performance and we individually have different optimum levels for performance.

An experienced actor about to take the stage to a full house will experience nerves. This stress. translates into peak performance on stage.

If you were pushed onto stage in front of an audience right now and told to perform, chances are the stress would lead to a less than optimum performance.

So individually we have differing levels of stress tolerance and will experience different situations in which stress can be useful, or a hinderance.

However, for all of us, over the long terms consistently raised stress has major negative effects on our wellbeing

The problem is that in evolutionary terms we are not capable of responding differently to real or perceived – so that idiot you argue with on facebook is giving the same stress response as if you’d just seen a tiger running free….

Think about road rage – how angry and shaky you get – yet most of the time the incident is mere seconds and then gone – yet the stress persists – often for hours.

We’re designed this way in case the threat was not dealt with effectively the first time.

Our threat centre is in the oldest part of the brain the amygdala which is ruled by emotion. When stressed this threat centre takes over and overrules the newer reasoning area.

This is why in stressful incidents like a crime or an accident, witnesses will often have differing views of what happened – one effect of stress is to narrow focus and confuse critical thinking.

Just to add to the mix, hormones are chemical messengers from the limbic system and neurotransmitters are from the nervous system and they’ll interact and affect each other too.

I’m going to focus on sustained low to medium level stress for this article, but if you operate at high stress levels continuously and/or you have a trauma event, your adrenalin and norandrenline can keep firing, resulting in adrenal fatigue, which is the next step up if daily stressors aren’t dealt with effectively.

So what are the effects of cortisol the stress hormone if it stays raised?

Well, its useful to understand that hormones don’t act in isolation, they have a cascade effect and when one changes it will affect another.

Let’s take a look…

In the case of cortisol it shares the same mother hormone progenolone as our androgen or sex hormones. What this means is that if our progenolone is being utilised for cortisol there is less available for production of oestrogen and testosterone.

So, as cortisol stays raised, estrogen and testosterone are lowered. We’re likely to experience weight gain, increased abdominal fat, fatigue, loss of libido, loss of concentration…

As we gain weight you will notice the effects of increased levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone) and insulin (hormone needed to lower blood glucose levels), as well as decreased leptin (the fullness hormone) levels. Meaning we’re likely to eat more, particularly sugary and starchy carbs- see how the negative cycle starts to gather momentum?

Remember we mentioned neurotransmitters? If you’re stressed this can tip into depression with means you likely have low levels of endorphins, which are feel-good neurohormones.

So you see stress can have quite the impact and many elements are outside of our direct control.

What can you do?

Here’s 5 practical, actionable tips….

Minimise stressors in your life – negative news, negative social media, even negative friends and situations.
Practice stress management techniques – meditation (it doesn’t need to be still, it could be running or another practice) and getting out into nature. Japanese studies show that immersion in a natural environment lowers cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate.
Exercise – exercise release endorphins boosting mood and alleviating stress. It’s nature’s anti-depressant.
Practice individual spirituality – cultivate a practice that connect you with your self – like affirmations, gratitude, morning grounding and positivity rituals
Seek support, find feel good groups to be part of on line community to feel supported. Our evolutionary need to feel part of something is strong, as is our need to feel understood and heard.

These are just some of the things we work on with our clients (both individual and corporate) to help them reduce stress, feel more positive, be healthier, be happier and connect with a purpose and each other.

If you’d like to talk to us about individual coaching or our corporate wellness programmes please get in touch.

Transformation Is An Inside Job

We all know that a big part of losing weight or maintaining our health comes down to things like exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.

But did you know that what you think and believe also affects how your body looks and feels?

There’s a strong link between what you believe and the outcome you achieve in any area of your life because of this sequencing…

What you think affects how you feel.

What you feel affects how you take action.

And ultimately, how you take action (or not) creates your result.

The result then feeds back into your thoughts & beliefs…

So – we need to work on the internal as well as the external

You cannot outperform your self-self-identity. Your self-identity is underpinned by your beliefs…

Have a think….

  • What beliefs do you currently have about yourself that are helping you towards your goals?
  • What beliefs do you currently have about yourself that are not helping you towards your goals?

We cannot erase beliefs, we must replace them with a new belief…

Only when we start adopting the new beliefs and nurturing them with aligned action will we get sustained success.It really is an inside job. I’d love to hear what new belief about yourself you’d like to start living….

It All Starts With The Mind

We love the physical results our clients get, and unsurprisingly, so do they.

While those body wins are gratifying though, it’s the mindset success we love and that our clients value more than the physical.

Shifting your mindset locks in your success for the long term. You face life with more positivity, more optimism, more confidence, and that permeates through into everything.

When you have a winning mindset geared for success things become easier.

When your beliefs are aligned with your goals, when you’ve shifted your habits to support you, and when you are stepping into the new self-identity you designed, then life is just so much better.

I was reminded of this on our last group coaching call when we were talking about that slight festive weight gain, and the feelings associated with it.

All of our clients said that in the past they’d have had feelings of guilt, that they’d undone their good work, that they’d fallen off the wagon so badly they didn’t know how to climb back on, or if they even wanted to…

Now, they all said they’d enjoyed the holidays, over-indulged, but they had no guilt, no feelings of beating up on themselves, no “I’ve blown it”.

Instead they were all brimming with confidence, knowing they’d shift the excess easily, keen to get going (if they weren’t already) and generally feeling great about themselves and life.

You see, once you shift your mindset and allow yourself to believe in yourself, more and more becomes possible. Goals become achievable, you start to like, then love yourself more, and you’re ready to meet life with a smile…

If you’d like to learn more, just reach out, we’d love to connect with you.

I Really Want To Change But How Do I Get Started?

Getting started is the hardest part.

You feel lost, you’re not sure if you’re doing the right things, you’re not sure if it will work.

You don’t trust the process, you don’t trust yourself and your sub-sub-conscious is screaming at you to stop and go back to your old ways (or to not even start!).

I get it. I’ve been there. It’s scary, it’s depressing, it’s daunting.Often making the decision to launch is the hardest part.

Once you’re going, it gets easier.

Momentum breeds momentum, and one good habit cascades into another.

It starts to feel easier, then it starts to feel second nature, your sub-conscious relaxes and comes on side to embrace the new you…But how to take that first step?

  • First trust yourself. Trust yourself that you can do it, if that’s too much, that you can at least try.
  • Find a proven method or system you know has worked, so you can trust that.
  • Break your big goal into small steps and celebrate the small wins.
  • Make sure you have accountability along the way, with a buddy, coach or mentor.
  • Finally, find your emotional connection as to why you want this change for yourself. And it has to be why you want it for yourself, not for anyone else, or society….
  • Peel back the layers on your “why” until you have the strong emotional connection to your goal that will get you started and keep you going when it gets tough (because it will, but you’ve got this).

If you want some guidance then check out our last podcast episode on motivation.

https://link.chtbl.com/HFOBh2sH

If you’d like some help getting started (and seeing it through) then reach out, I’d love to hear from you.

The Midlife Method

The Midlife Method: How to lose weight and feel great after 40 by Sam Rice is a new diet book aimed at midlifers.

We haven’t managed to grab a copy yet but we’re flattered the publishing house named the approach after our Midlife Method transformational programme.

However, those of you that know us will know that diet is only a part of the weight loss solution, and in fact, not the most important part.

Good eating needs to be combined with movement to create not only a healthy calorie deficit to aid fat loss. Note, fat, not weight – we actually want to add muscle at midlife to offset the natural physiological changes of ageing.

This needs to be supported with a change in habits, beliefs and mindset to make this a true lifestyle change that is sustainable.

Meaning you can lose the fat, AND keep it off, without spending hours exercising, pinging from diet to diet or making big sacrifices.

This is exactly what we coach on our 8 week Midlife Method 8 week programme which is also gives you accountability and support via a private group and regular group calls.

To hear about the fantastic results it’s got for our clients read and watch what they’re saying here: https://themidlifementors.com/happy-clients/

If you’d like to learn more, then please book a call with us here: https://calendly.com/themidlifementors/30min

Self Doubt Is Normal

I know, you scroll through social media, you see someone, you think, “wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to be that confident and positive all the time…” or something similar.

Let me tell you a secret, chances are that person has doubt and insecurities just like you.

In fact, I know they do, because we all do, it’s part of human nature.

So it’s okay to get up some days and feel like you just can’t do it. That you don’t know why you’re even bothering.

I just want to let you know that you’re not alone.

We all fear failure.

It’s what keeps us trapped where we are. Our sub-conscious is programmed to keep us in the familiar, to avoid risk.

But you can’t be comfortable AND grow. They’re opposing states.

That’s why some days it can feel so hard.

So hard you don’t even want to start. But starting is often the hardest part of success…

So take that small step. Because over time those small steps become giant leaps.

Over time those small steps build self-belief.

And when you have self-belief you have those days where you wake up feeling confident and KNOW you can smash your day.

The more we can practice that, the more we can experience it, the better we can move towards our goals, our success.

My message for you today is that you are not alone.

Knowing that, start believing in yourself and what you can achieve.

Take that small step, make today your day.