How to Balance Hormones and Calm the Mind
by Amanda Box, N.D.
You can feel it rising. Like water it begins to pool around your feet. Then it slowly rises up your body until you are fully submerged, unable to breathe, drowning in your own fears.
This is how I describe my experience with anxiety. It is a feeling that I am too familiar with and one that many of you have suffered as well. Many people face regular bouts of anxiety that can profoundly affect their lives. They may be unable to work or have healthy social lives. For others, anxiety may be brought on by high pressure situations such as taking a test.
The good news? You can beat anxiety in 5 steps! You can cut the chains that bind you and set yourself free for a life full of positivity and success!
There can be many underlying factors behind anxiety. Traumatic life events such a death of a loved one or financial problems can trigger anxiety in people who formerly led a happy productive life! This stress induced anxiety can snowball and disrupt the body to the point that hormonal changes and body imbalances begin to occur. Once specific hormones such as cortisol are out of balance, it is much like throwing gasoline on a fire. The frequency and strength of anxiety begins to increase and take over a person’s life.
Many people also struggle with anxiety, but because the symptoms don’t manifest in the more obvious ways such as irrational fears or impending doom, they don’t realize that anxiety is the culprit behind their health problems. When we stuff our feelings and don’t let them out, the built up stress can lead to anxiety which manifests in ways such as:
- Digestive issues
- Difficulty focusing
- Sleep disorders
These symptoms often resolve themselves once the underlying stress and anxiety is properly addressed. Stress itself is the cause of 75-90% of all disease! It is imperative to address and relieve stress in order to live a healthy long life!
The Role of Cortisol with Anxiety
Addressing the root cause and imbalance behind anxiety can calm the mind and body to bring true relief from symptoms. One of the most common body imbalances that occurs with anxiety has to do with cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of the fight-or-flight reaction.
Often referred to as our stress hormone, cortisol is responsible for three major functions that keep our body in balance during times of stress:
- Raising blood sugar
- Increasing blood pressure
- Regulating inflammation
Cortisol and anxiety have a cyclical relationship. When you experience anxiety, which is a form of stress, you automatically release cortisol. However, having excess cortisol in the body can cause anxiety and contribute to anxiety attacks! Your cortisol imbalance may have caused your anxiety, but your anxiety may also have caused your cortisol imbalance.
When cortisol levels build up in the blood, your mind and body are profoundly affected. If you struggle with anxiety, I’m sure those symptoms sound very familiar!
- High levels of cortisol can lead to a nervous stomach, jitters, feelings of panic, and even paranoia.
- High levels of cortisol also suppress the production of serotonin, which leads to feelings of loss of hope and depression.
Failing to manage stress in your life will lead to increased cortisol production and ultimately cause anxiety.
Cortisol is typically released in a regular, timed fashion or rhythm that repeats daily. In a healthy person, cortisol is highest in the morning helping us to wake up and be alert and energetic. It begins to taper off throughout the day and by evening melatonin is released which helps us to sleep.
When anxiety sounds the alarm, our body releases cortisol and becomes ready for action. However, without an actual release of a physical flight or fight action, cortisol builds up in the blood. Over time, chronically high cortisol levels begin to negatively affect our bodies. Some of the most common symptoms of high cortisol levels include:
- Digestive issues
- Impaired circulation
- Disrupted sleep/wake cycles
- Extreme fatigue
- Low sex drive
- Depressed mood
Lowering Your Cortisol Levels Naturally
Bringing your cortisol down to a healthy, balanced level is key in overcoming anxiety.
There are 5 steps to lower your cortisol levels that are both safe and extremely effective. Adding even one of these steps into your daily routine can make a big difference. However, incorporating all 5 of these steps will help you achieve maximum anxiety reducing results.
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