All Revved up and No Place to Go: Thanks Stress and Cortisol

cortisol play it out stress Apr 25, 2022

Cortisol can make you blow a gasket in your heart, brain or G.I. tract.😳

Watch this video to see what happens when your stress system is stuck in high gear and how you can downshift it.


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What is cortisol?

I want you to think of stress and cortisol as the race car driver of your system. Every time you experience stress and cortisol, your entire system revs up. It is designed for immediate and intense action.

Your heart rate speeds up.
Your breathing increases.
Your blood pressure rises.
Your muscles are fueled for action.
It is all systems go. Right now!

The problem is that your vehicle, your body, is stuck behind a computer waiting for that never ending string of endless Zoom meetings to finally come to a close. And every day, it's another series of stressors.

Your kid interrupts your virtual meeting for the third time that afternoon.
And what can you do about it?
Not much.

Another person in your department resigns.
What can you do?
Not much.

Oh, dinner needs to be made again, and there's no food in the house.
Guess what?

When your engines are revved up and stuck on high for long periods of time, things wear out or seize up physically. You have high blood pressure. You are at an increased risk for stroke, cancer, premature death. Psychologically, you're anxious, you're depressed, you're overwhelmed, or you shut down.

You have got to downshift.

You cannot be revved to the max all of the time. And in fact, you really should be in idle most of the time with the ability to shift in and out of high gear. So here's your service notice.

What is one thing that you can do to downshift today?

Maybe you go for a walk. Maybe you go to bed on time or even early. Maybe you hang out with friends. Perhaps you respect and enforce your own boundaries. Maybe you set a certain time to stop work every day. Or maybe you set your phone and electronic devices out of sight so they're out of mind. Be your own mechanic and take care of your vehicle. It's the only one you’ve got.

Want to know more about what’s happening in your brain and body under stress?

An excerpt from Jenny's book, The Resiliency rEvolution:

I have referred to the stress response as a stress tsunami: a release of hormones that sets off a powerful wave of chemical events that change our physiology. In reality, this tsunami is actually made of two waves that happen almost simultaneously. The first wave targets immediate, short-term issues, whereas the second wave deals with longer-term concerns.

A portion of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining constant body states, such as food and water intake, temperature regulation, hormones, and mediation of emotional responses. The hypothalamus signals a part of the adrenal glands called the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla pumps out the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline as the first wave of defense in a stressful situation. This first wave happens in a matter of seconds.(1)

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are also known as epinephrine and norepinephrine. The difference in the terminology is mainly geographical: Americans use the terms adrenaline and noradrenaline, while many other countries use the terms epinephrine and norepinephrine.


The second wave of the stress response begins over the course of minutes.(2)

It’s referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis. It’s a feedback loop between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. The hypothalamus stimulates the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn induces the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone. This hormone then stimulates the adrenal cortex (another part of the adrenal glands) to pump out cortisol.

The stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol signal rapid changes to the entire body. They are all good changes, perfectly designed to help us meet the challenges of stress—so long as we follow through with the next step of the cycle. We do that when we fight or flee, or more realistically in today’s world, when we Play It Out.

That’s the good news. As you will see later in the chapter, there’s a lot of bad news about these stress hormones when we don’t hold up our end of the deal.

10 Micro Strategies to Boost Your Energy & Resilience

Instead of reaching for that candy bar or cup of coffee, here are 10 QUICK & EASY WAYS you can increase your energy and resilience by changing your chemistry and physiology.


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