The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
Written By Derek Walcott
Notes on Stress hormones
When we think about the stress hormone, cortisol, we often think we need to lower it.
The body produced cortisol during times of stress in order to give us the push to get away from danger— it’s a function of the ‘old brain’
Cortisol isn’t evil, but we’re really meant to only experience short surges of it. In a perfect scenario, cortisol would take away focus from our regulatory systems such as digestion and good sleep, in order to put all the energy, focus and blood flow into our extremities and raising blood sugar so we can run away, and then, as soon as we’re safe again, cortisol steps aside and makes way for regulation and repair once again
Unfortunately, evolution has not yet caught up with the fact that we live in a society in which we experience a different kind of stress— one that’s often more low-grade but long term. This causes a slow, steady drip of cortisol
When this happens for an extended period of time, the body, in its wisdom, tries to find balance by lowering cortisol, sometimes almost to nothing.
This is often referred to as adrenal fatigue, but this is a misnomer. The adrenals aren’t really responsible for cortisol being over or under produced— rather, it’s the HPA axis— the brain. The brain perceives stress and sends the signal out to the adrenals. Think of the adrenals as the factory where cortisol is produced and the brain the factory boss.
When we burn the candle at both ends and are under chronic stress for a long time, it’s like we’re borrowing energy from tomorrow. Once we decide to get in front of the situation and take measures to allow the body to heal, we will first feel very very exhausted. That’s because our energy bank account is in the red and we need time to save up more energy currency.
This was exactly my experience…
During this situation, we have to implement stress management practices on a regular (daily) basis. Things like yoga, naps, breathwork, time with loved ones, laughter. We also need to prioritize sleep and good nutrition.
And, of course, there are herbs and supplements that can support us through this.
One of my favorites, and one I’ve personally been working with daily for the past year or so, is eluethero.
Eluethero, aka Siberian ginseng is actually not related to true ginseng as it has different constituents
It’s an adaptogen that boosts immune function and has antimicrobial and chemoprotective properties. As you may recall, adaptogens help support you by offering more resilience to stress.
But the reason I work with Eleuthero is because it has pantothenic acid, which is known to raise cortisol levels.
I started this topic off by saying that most people, when they think of cortisol, think about lowering it. But once you’ve been chronically stressed for so long that cortisol has flat lined, it can cause depression, a lack of motivation, and extreme fatigue & weakness.
There are adrenal support herbal combinations that include Eleuthera. Gaia makes one called adrenal health. It’s usually a good idea to take a combination of adaptogens, as they each offer something a little different.
I personally have Eleuthera powder (be warned, it tastes awful on its own), that I combine with one of my favorite adaptogenic mushrooms— reishi. I put this combination in my hot water for my Yerba mate every morning. You may recall that mate helps assimilate other herbs into your system.
Remember that things aren’t as black and white as we often want them to be. Cortisol is villainized, but really, like everything else, what we really need is balance.