Stress has had quite an impact on all of us this year. Who knew we would be dealing with a virus so dangerous it would affect our ability to work, play, or go to the store to buy bread?
Now More than Ever
Of course, we dealt with stress before COVID-19 invaded our lives, but most situations came and went. We could usually work out strategies for our problems in a matter of days or weeks. Most of us felt we had workable plans for situations that might arise. Perhaps most significantly, we weren’t staring death in the face every day.
Okay, maybe “staring death in the face” is a little overstated, but COVID-19 is a mean son-of-a-gun virus for us to deal with. It’s sent shockwaves through our lives and escalated our stress.
How the Body Copes
How does the human body deal with elevated stress? It adapts, but not immediately, and in that time, the body produces excess substances. These aren’t necessarily beneficial, and one is cortisol.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Cortisol at healthy levels properly regulates many bodily functions, such as blood sugar levels, metabolism, inflammation, and memory. It helps regulate salt and water balance and blood pressure, too. But if the body produces too much cortisol, the opposite effects can set in.
Because most body cells have cortisol receptors, an excess of cortisol is “grabbed up” by those receptors. Suddenly our metabolism is less efficient and we begin to gain weight. Joint inflammation increases and we feel more pain. Skewed by excess cortisol, our salt and water balance deregulates, and we can develop high blood pressure. Our memory can be altered, too, if there’s too much cortisol circulating in our blood.
Seek the Help You Need
In our world today, we need to make a special effort to handle abundant stress. Instead of holding all of our problems in, if we talk to friends or relatives about what we’re dealing with, we may find some relief. Moderate exercise and health care (including chiropractic adjustments) are important, too, for mental health, pain management, and optimum function, to help you meet life at your best.
So don’t just sit there. Ask for help—you’ll be glad you did.