Excessive cortisol can create a broad range of undesirable side effects, including but not limited to:
- Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body.
- Excess stomach fat is associated with heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Elevated blood glucose which leads to insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- The “adrenaline rush” is kept from going out of control
- Energy is released for immediate activity
- Awareness is enhanced to remember the solution to the problem
- Immune response is dampened so you don’t feel sick
- Hormones in the brain that released cortisol are turned down to terminate the stress response
Physical Signs of Chronic Stress
- Joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive problems
- Excess belly fat
Emotional Signs of Chronic Stress
- Feeling loss of control
- Craving carbohydrates
- Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
Signs & Situations for Chronic Stress
- Emotional over-eaters
- Illness after finals or completing a stressful project
- Get sick when you go on vacation
- Mental preoccupation with a stressful event
Diseases Indicated by Excessive Abdominal Fat
- Cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance
Afflictions of Obesity
- Sleep apnea
- Elevated blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Premature death
Tips for dealing with stress
- Don’t worry about things you can’t control, such as the weather.
- Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
- Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a job interview.
- Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat. Work to resolve conflicts with other people.
- Talk with a trusted friend, family member or counselor.
- Set realistic goals at home and at work.
- Avoid over-scheduling.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep.
- Participate in something you don’t find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians