Fun fact: many psychologists believe that survival is the reason humans tend to focus on the negative. Why? Because being vigilant and noticing the stuff that’s wrong kept us alive back in the day. The person who dropped her berry basket and ran for the hills because she assumed that rustle in the bush was a bear probably outlived the person who ignored said rustling, closed her eyes and immersed herself in the beauty of the moment.
The thing is that although the threat to our physical person has greatly decreased since our caveman days, we still experience psychological distress, which can also trigger that “fight or flight” response we hear so much about. In “fight or flight”, our bodies pump out stress hormones like cortisol, which signals the liver to release glucose for the additional energy we need to handle that whole bear scenario. Definitely a good thing if we’re about to be eaten! However, in a world where many situations are not life-threatening, all this additional glucose tends to leave those of us who must manually control our blood sugars in a bit of a pickle. A sweet pickle. because our blood sugars skyrocket. Sugar is sweet. Okay I’ll stop.
But because there are no hard and fast rules for how to adjust insulin to stress levels, staying on top of it all means more blood sugar checks and, if you talk to any therapist, being mindful to up your self-care game. Also true for most of us is that when our stress levels go up, our bubble baths, quiet meditation time and resolve to put our own needs first goes out the window.
Stress can often be alleviated with lifestyle changes. I know we’ve all heard many things about the importance of stress management, but I’m curious: what works best for you? Things that can affect your stress tolerance level include (but are not limited to) your
- Sense of control: The more you believe you have the knowledge and capability to influence events in your life and its trajectory, the better!
- Mindset: Embracing challenges, having a sense of humor and accepting change make you more resilient to stress.
- Ability to handle emotions: Being able to identify what’s bothering you and cope with your emotions can reduce your susceptibility to stress.
- Support network: A strong network of family and friends to support you is a very powerful way to reduce stress and great way to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming.
What practice or activity helps you to keep cortisol and other stress hormones at bay? Please tell us below in the comments. And for extra points, tell us how you stick to those practices!