Cortisol is a hormone found in the brain. Its main function is to act as a neurotransmitter. Scientists consider it to be the stress neuron, because when we are in a tense situation the body produces it so that we can cope with the situation. The hypothalamus is in charge of releasing this hormone in a controlled way when it detects that we are in a stressful situation or that it lowers our blood level of glucocorticoids.
Stress is an emotional state that makes us physically tense. This state can occur at any time, in the face of any situation or thought that causes us frustration, anger or nervousness. Stress is positive if it is in small doses, for example when it helps us prevent danger. However, when it becomes a recurrent reaction, it can be harmful to our health.
What exactly is cortisol and where does it come from?
As mentioned above, it is a glucocorticoid that is generated in the adrenal cortex (located above the kidneys). There are two elements that regulate its production, on the one hand ATH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and on the other hand circadian rhythms. The production of these two elements depends on the pituitary gland, a hypothalamus gland.
When stress appears:
The truth is that through our thoughts, beliefs and feelings, we can influence the level of cortisol released. It is scientifically proven that when we modify our way of thinking, we also modify the biochemical activity of the brain cells.
Having a poor sense of humor, being irritated all the time or feeling anger very often are factors that indicate that we have too much of it. Feeling permanently tired without justification, lack of appetite, or on the contrary, having a lot of gluttony, are also indicators of too high a dose.
Therefore, depending on our character or how we react to what happens to us in our daily life, we will generate cortisol or serotonin.
Cortisol is a necessary hormone for the human body
As we have already said, it is a necessary hormone for the proper functioning of our body. If we have a medium and balanced basal level it will help us to stay awake and active during the day. At night its levels are reduced in the blood so that we can sleep.
In addition, having moderate levels contributes to our well-being, so we are not interested in completely eliminating this hormone from our body. The ideal is to have an average level so that it helps us in our day-to-day life.
Keep in mind that cortisol levels also vary throughout the day. Usually it decreases as the hours go by to have the minimum levels at night, but some people are more active in the afternoon, after eating. Therefore, at night they will not have the minimum levels.
When we are not able to reduce our cortisol levels at night because of stress, we may find it difficult to sleep.
Having consistently high (or too low) levels can be detrimental to our health. For example, having too little cortisol can make us feel confused, listless and tired.
That’s why it’s so important to learn how to regulate stress. So that we can feel motivated, clear-minded and strong. Although it is not always easy, one of the best ways to control it is by supporting ourselves in our environment, in our family, friends, partners… Reducing alcohol or tobacco consumption also reduces levels. A good diet also influences the amount we generate and even meditation will help us.
The idea is that everyone finds the best techniques to help them manage stress and reduce it, so that we can have healthy levels to take advantage of its benefits.