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Effects of chronic stress on performance
- Ishika Sachdev

April 23, 2017

Think of the endocrine system as the hormonal hard drive. All the organs that make up the endocrine system, produce, store, retrieve and communicate with hormones that control and coordinate processes or activities all through the body. When this system is in balance, our hormones go on doing their respective jobs to maintain homeostasis.

Now what happens in the presence of a stressor?
Our blood sugar levels crash -> our adrenal glands fire cortisol (aka the stress hormone) -> our livers produce and release more glucose -> our blood sugar levels rise and our blood sugar balance is maintained.

Now what happens in the presence of constant stress?
When we are subject to any form of constant stress, environmental, financial, chemical, emotional and lifestyle related stress (intake of nutritionally deficient foods, digestive stress, diet high in refined sugars, lack of sleep, dehydration, pollution etc), our adrenals switch on their emergency mode and respond to this chronic stress with a chronic output of cortisol. When our adrenals keep trying to extinguish the fire with the production of more and more cortisol, they eventually tire and Ďstealí from their endocrine counterparts. Why? Because the adrenal functioning takes precedence over our reproductive functioning, metabolic rate and other endocrine functioning. So when the cortisol supply eventually runs low, nutrients and hormonal precursors from other parts of the body are brought to the adrenal glands to help fight the fire, taking away from their own respective jobs. But because the fires (constant stress) donít stop showing up, our hormone troops eventually fall over each other leading to the endocrine cascade.

How does this affect performing arts?
Our endocrine system is like an orchestra, all participating glands and organs have to work together, in harmony, for smooth functioning. When this harmony is disrupted, the resulting consequences are many and are all interconnected. Consequences can include: blood sugar imbalance, chronic fatigue, impaired adrenal health, impaired pituitary functioning, impaired thyroid functioning and imbalance of sex hormones. Itís quite simple, when our bodies are unable to function optimally, we cannot expect to perform optimally.

How do you prevent and treat chronic stress?
Practicing deep belly breathing, meditation and affirmations are wonderful ways to deal with chronic stress. The mobile application Headspace is a great tool that explains how, when and why to meditate.

Wishing you a healthy and happy week!

Ishika Sachdev is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and a health, wellness and beauty blogger. Reading packaging labels is her favourite pastime, skin care is her religion, food is her medicine, and red wine and chocolate cake are her therapists.

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